I’ve been fooled at times, thinking the friends I had would last. Like when I worked with a woman in clinical research trials. We seemed to get along so well and have a lot in common. During that time, I was struggling through chemotherapy and working on one of her company’s studies. She was the monitor and was so thoughtful—never pushing too hard, always considering how it was for me to work and go through treatment. We even enjoyed a day exploring Napa Valley when we attended a research conference. But later, after I finished treatment and we completed her study, the friendship fizzled out. I’d learned that her mother had breast cancer and I guess part of her friendship with me was working through that. She was a friend for a season.
There have been other friendships like that—when you shared things for a time in your life then moved on, leaving that relationship in the past. The older I get, the more I know the value of friendships that last a lifetime. Yesterday, I realized that when my friends honored me with a ‘Grandma Shower.’
Our plan was to gather the five of us—friends that had been together since our freshman year of college. But before that, I’d been friends with two of the women. I’d known Donna since first grade when our desks were side-by-side and we collected colored glass on the playground—back in the day when we drank sodas from glass bottles and no one thought of recycling. Then Pam became a friend in ninth grade when she saved me from Algebra. Donna, Pam, and I shared a large dorm room across the hall from Debbie and Kay our freshman year. From that time on our bond was formed and now when we’re together, we go from talking about our struggles to laughing until we cry about the pranks we played in the dorm.
How good it is to be with friends from the same era, all knowing the same music, the same references, sharing the same core values—of faith, kindness, creativity, and the love of laughter. These are women I trust, and when I look at popular shows about groups of women, like the Housewives’ shows, I can’t relate. My girlfriends are not women who are catty and competitive, back-stabbing and superficial. They are women who see beyond the surface and value the things that last.
We were disappointed that Debbie and Kay had to cancel but vowed to schedule another get-together as soon as possible. At our age, we see that you must be intentional about time for friendship. Meanwhile, Pam, Donna, and I went out to lunch then returned to Pam’s for my shower. How nicely she’d decorated, from the “It’s a Boy” sign in the yard, to the banner across her mantle, to the party table. Everything was thoughtfully planned and color coordinated. I appreciated the time and energy Pam had put into this special honor for me. She has known the joy of being a Grandmother to her grandsons and is so happy that I’ll understand that bond.
Donna provided the Prosecco to toast the event and to drink with the sweet homemade cake. Instead of ‘shower games’ we did an art activity—something we’ve all enjoyed over the years. Donna in retired-art teacher-fashion had a plastic bin full of craft supplies to make treasure boxes. We decorated them with jewel pieces, ribbons, shells, and flowers. But the best part was sharing our responses to questions about sensory memories that we’d written down and cut into pieces and placed inside our box–reminders of what we treasure.
We had just talked about things we learned about Donna’s mother through stories people shared at her funeral service last November. While we three had known each other for a long time, we’d never done this activity together. Some friends might play games like Trivial Pursuit and challenge each other; we did this activity to know each other.
I learned that Donna associates the sound of the wind through pine trees with Easter at her Grandfather’s. Pam loved the sight of her Grandsons’ faces, and I think that will soon be my favorite sight, as well. We took our time sharing each of our responses, dwelling in that place of learning things we didn’t know about each other.
Too soon we had to go.
“It’s a shame we can’t have more time like that,” Donna said on our way back to my house. “Seems that life goes by so quickly and we don’t have enough of those moments.”
But we are lucky that when we do have time together, it is well-spent, encouraging one another, building each other up and knowing that we’re in it for a lifetime.
How about You?
How do you make time for nurturing your friendships– whether they’re for a season or for a lifetime?
How can you be more intentional in building your relationships?