FRIENDS

How many friends does a grown up actually need?

It’s interesting that this subject has come up now since Garry and I had a long talk about this just the other day. We had turned down an invitation to a party because the truth was neither of us wanted to go. There were a lot of reasons. One of them sounds strange unless you understand Garry’s hearing issues. These people talk really softly. It’s almost like loud whispering. Garry can’t hear them at all and I have to strain to hear them. They are nice people. Kindly people — but for no discernible reason, they aren’t our people.

1952

Maybe we are just getting too old to start over with new friends. I don’t honestly know. I really want there to be a real connection. We could use some local friends, but the spark’s not there and no amount of trying has made it happen. We have three couples and some individuals who are great (and close) friends. No one is really local, so seeing each other is at best occasional and always planned. As much as we don’t like driving, they don’t either. Age is not just a number.

We both used to have a lot of “work friends.” After we retired, it turned out we had very little in common except work. Ten years into retirement, looking back on work has an interest factor of about half an hour. After that, we want to go home. Watch a movie or a ballgame. Read a book. Write a blog.

Meanwhile, a lot of friends have died and many more have moved far away. Others are past the point where conversation is viable. Dementia is an ugly disease. Every time I can’t remember why I’m in the kitchen, I wonder if this is the beginning of my own dementia.

Neither of us is particularly sociable. I was — a long time ago — but it has been many years since I was considered “popular.” More than 40 years.

Garry is not sociable now and never was. I think he married me because I’m the only woman he knew with whom he could have a real conversation. He has a lot of problems with conversation anyway because of his poor hearing. Even with a cochlear implant, conversation is more work than fun. If there are a lot of people talking at the same time, he can’t hear anything. Plus, he has some a phobia about interrupting, so he feels left out of group chats.

A lot of people he thought were close friends turned out not to be. For him, work was his life, so talking about work was talking about his personal life too. But other people were married, had kids and relationships unrelated to their jobs. They were congenial colleagues, but not real friends. They shared common experiences which gave a sense of closeness, but it was outside of their “real” lives.

I don’t have more friends than Garry does. We have exactly the same friends.

The way we were

Meanwhile, we have all grown old. We have started to think of people in their 60s as youngsters. Traveling is tiring. The idea of dealing with airplanes and airports is a non-starter. Long drives and airplane flights are not appealing.

There’s no one we can just visit in an afternoon and I’m not sure we would do it even if we could. We had a few very good local friends, but they passed away. They were older than us, so I suppose we should have expected it, but you never expect friends to die. They are supposed to live at least as long as you do.

Do we have enough friends? I don’t know what enough is. I don’t feel abandoned, but I still have Garry and we are each other’s best friends. Owen’s living with us has given us a new lease on life.

I have no idea what we’ll do without each other. It’s the thing that frightens me most.

As for being grown up? I always wondered when I would feel grown up. I think it was a gradual thing, around the time when I realized I was one of the oldest members of my family. When my parents, aunts, and uncles were gone, I never felt like a kid again.

As for mature? I’m working on it.



Categories: Anecdote, Friendship, Relationships

9 replies

  1. I HAVE NO SIBLINGS, SO FRIENDS ARE PRECIOUS. HOWEVER, NOW AT MY AGE, MOST OF MY FRIENDS HAVE PASSED, EVEN THOSE YOUNGER THAN i, I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU AND GARRY AS CLOSER FRIENDS.

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    • I had an older brother who died ten years ago or is it longer? Maybe closer to 20? My sister vanished into a world of drugs a long time ago. I’m assuming she is alive because I haven’t heard otherwise and I figure someone would tell me — assuming they knew. Effectively, I have no siblings either. I miss my brother a lot.

      I had more friends, but many died, some have gone into a world of their own, and many more have moved to “homes” after which we lost touch. So we have three couples and a few individuals — but we are SO spread out all over the country. It is hard to stay in touch and sometimes doesn’t seem worth it because I know I’ll never see them again. They don’t travel and neither do I.

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  2. Wonderful!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We can relate, friends are wonderful. I have older friends (as in, known for years) and younger friends too. I think older friends are great because they know you, and that is such a relief. Younger friends we get to know as we go, most seem to work out over time, becomes old friend.
    There are a few things we prefer to not have in friends, such as smoking and excessive drinking as in everyday and always. Also the religious and moral beliefs they have, friends that don’t believe in a higher power as well as they don’t like animals, we can’t be friends with them.
    We were invited to a holiday dinner last year, (newer friends) there was excessive drinking and no religious theme, or dinner prayers, this person does not believe in a GOD, why do you celebrate the holiday? We had a good time, but it felt like it needed GOD, and maybe a bit of gratefulness expressed for all you have, friends, health, security, family. Maybe those things are taken for granted, as they were not mentioned by host. That is fine, but we decided we didn’t enjoy being with drunken people celebrating holidays.. The host fell off his chair and his wife escorted him to his bed. The rest of the guests remained and drank some more. We decided it was time to go.
    Unfortunately many people, young and older have drinking problems, we enjoy a glass of wine, or beer, perhaps a mixed drink at times, but when drinking becomes unmanageable and people act stupid, display inappropriate behavior and make comments, its time to leave the scene.
    Old friends: you just know them and feel comfortable just being yourself. We can stay at their house, fall asleep and feel secure.
    How many friends do we need? Every single one! They are gifts, we’re older, middle 60’s and 70’s, our friends are a bit younger 40-50’s, and older 70’s 80’s.
    My husband is my friend and I can’t see life without him, I think about it, especially since pandemic, and know that if I am alone it will be difficult, but I will try to make my time count. I try to be grateful for what is now!
    My friends are doing their thing, some work, some retired. Nobody wants to travel at this point related to pandemic and expenses mostly. I don’t want to leave my home either, but if we don’t get out and enjoy the weather before the season is over the dreaded cold/flu pandemic issue gets closer. I put effort into keeping in touch with friends and family, some say I am “pain in ass” related to calling and trying to makes plans. Well, when I am dead and you are sitting alone in your house you will recall, and wish there was someone who cared enough to call you, and try to make plans to see you. All you will have then are memories, how will you fell about them?

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    • I AM the older friend at this point. I try not to make friends a lot older than I am because the casualty rate is so high.

      I have believing friends and non-believing friends. I’m willing to deal with both and I expect everyone to be at least polite no matter what they personally believe. What I don’t want to deal with are drunks or right-wing ranters. If you are with people who you KNOW agree with you or are at least comfortable about it, fine. If you KNOW this is not true, let it go. It’s just one night. We don’t need to make dinner a battlefield.

      Everyone is sick right not — not with COVID, but with colds, sniffles and things we avoided because of the lockdown. The first thing I did after we finally went out after being vaccinated was go shopping for groceries. Of course I picked up a stomach bug. Instantly. No one got sick during lockdown because we were so careful, but going back out, all the usual stuff was waiting.

      I’m am seriously prejudiced against people who bring mobile phones to dinner. I find it incredibly rude. I don’t care if it’s an adult or a kid. Unless you are an MD with emergencies, the phone is OFF during dinner. If that’s too much for you, stay home with your phone. The point of a celebration is to be with others and enjoy their company. I have zero patience with this.

      We’d get out more if it didn’t rain most of the time. We had almost 2 days of sunshine, but now it’s raining again. It gets depressing. At least we got a couple of sunny days, which is better than last week when it rained all 7 days.

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  4. you pose such a great question? I’d say each of us has a very personal answer, but I know for myself, I have a few great friends and the rest I feel are either work related or acquaintances.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a lot more friends, but I also lived in two different countries and two separate states. Some people are too far away to have a functional relationships and too many have died. I’m always terrified that the next call I get will be that someone is deathly ill.

      The friends we do have are great but we aren’t getting any younger. It’s hard to find ways to spend time together. With the best will in the world, I doubt we’re doing anymore flying and long drives are getting difficult too. I used to enjoy driving. Times have changed a lot during that past few years. The past five years have made a big difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As the population of people we can call “friends” diminishes, this question becomes way more of a problem.., not to mention frustrating. Staying personally vital under less than ideal conditions, like a lack of mobility, means we indulge in hobbies and pursuits that, sort of, keep us alive, knowing full well that that the concept of borrowed time is a prominent factor.

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        • It’s one of the reasons I have kept the blog alive. Aside from whatever wisdom I might try to convey, it also helps keep me in touch with a lot of people. The year of lockdown came at a bad time for us. We were getting old anyway, but it stole a year from us and we don’t have a lot of years. Every year is a gift.

          We miss you, you know? If there were anyway we could get there to see you again, we would, but there’s no way I’m getting on a plane and finally, reality screams we are too old to take such a long drive. The funny thing is that I always wanted to drive cross-country — to see the world from the ground rather than the sky.

          Let’s hope there’s something to this rebirth business. Maybe we can be friends again next time around.

          Like

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