Old friends are a steady spring rain,
or late summer sunshine edging into fall,
or frosted leaves along a snowy path—
a voice for all seasons saying, I know you.
The older I grow, the more I fear I’ll lose my old friends,
as if too many years have scrolled by
since the day we sprang forth, seeking each other.
Old Friends by Freya Manfred
* * *
Last Sunday I gathered with twenty or so old friends to celebrate the 80th birthday of an old friend. I remember when “old friend” only meant “dear friend.” Now it actually means old—as in, well, doddering.
(We have met the geezers and they are us!)
We may be old, but old ain’t dead. We old people number our days and then forget the reason. For us, when I’m 64 is no longer future tense. It’s past pluperfect. Vera, Chuck, and Dave are married, with grandchildren on their knees.
We came by invitation to honor our old friend who was (I think) the oldest old person there. She could have made the rest of us look younger, but she didn’t because even though she’s every minute of 80, she looks 60.
It’s a marvel if not a miracle.
And here’s the thing: She of all people should look haggard, worn, and broken. She’s had more grief in her life than the rest of us there combined. Somehow the weight of the world has not crushed her.
She radiates joy.
We’d all hate her if we didn’t love her so much. She’s a hero. Our hero.
We sang “Happy Birthday” and then chanted “Speech! Speech!” We didn’t have to. She’d come prepared to say a few words. And she did.
She mentioned each of us—her old friends—by name, in turn, and said specifically and individually how over the years each of us in different ways had stood by her, lightened her burdens, made her laugh, made her way less difficult.
I know that life is hard, she concluded. Sometimes it’s very, very hard, but grace abounds. And I know that because of you.
Silence. Sighs. Sniffles.
She smiled and then thanked GUS.
GUS, she told us, is the “Great Universal Spirit.”
We cheered and clapped.
(To GUS all praise and glory!)
We were told not to bring presents.
No one did.
But each of us left with a gift.
See Paula’s “Cascade of Love” on the home page. Posted December 11, 2022
“We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Joni Mitchell
Some of us are older stardust, but we all have a path back to the garden.
Simply, utterly beautiful. Your gift has gifted us today. Thank you. And cheers, GUS!
The gift of friendship is a precious one. Camus said, “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” In friendship we walk together, side by side, through storms and sunny weather, tough and tender moments, and challenging and pleasant circumstances. Let us be grateful and joyful for these sacred relationships, ones full of support, resilience and hope. I, too, celebrate this courageous and joyful woman, whom I admire and respect, and is the youngest 80 year-old I know!
Esther is at our house today. As you know, she’s 95 and a delight to be around. My favorite thing to do with her is watch old movies she didn’t have the opportunity to see when she was young. (Her father was a minister, and you know how underpaid they are.) Last night was “The Shop Around the Corner” and we (and Deborah) laughed ourselves silly.
As an 80 year old who is still very active let me say the 80s are the new 60’s.
I’m with you! I, too, am 80. In February I’m going to Thailand to visit my granddaughter. I’ll turn 81 while I’m there.
I have old friends that I have known since my youth and teenage years. One who I speak to almost on a daily basis. I have old friends that have passed on, and old friends that are much younger than me or that I have just recently met. Friends from the Camino walk, friends from my short years at SPC, and an old friend who I share breakfast with once a month. What makes these people old friends is the deep, immediate connection that we share. One that arises without seeking or effort. It just arises and is, for as long and short as it may be. Some call it a karmic connection. They are all threads that are woven together to form a cloth that covers me in this “sweet and precious” life.
Go in peace, Go in kindness
Go in love, Go in faith
Leave the day, The day behind us
Day is done, Go in grace
Let us go, Into the dark
Not afraid, Not alone
Let us hope, By some good pleasure
Safely to, Arrive at home – Sam Baker
Thank you all for sharing the Journey
I told the beautiful 80 year old birthday girl that last Sunday’s party was the best birthday party I have ever attended. (Apologies to my children and grandchildren)
Thank you for this beautiful sharing, & for all the words shared by others…reminds me of a saying I have in our kitchen: “With myrth & laughter let old wrinkles come!” Walking beside you all each week brings peace & joy to my aging body & my ageless spirit… GUS!!!
Old friends connect us to our former selves and former lives, especially those of us who’ve outlived our siblings. They understand some of our weirdnesses which we now call eccentricities. They know what we got from our parents and what we still rebel against. They shared more than family those changes that made us who we are. They may be the only people in our lives capable of unconditional love of us.
Ah – To GUS.
Last night we met with old friends, 40+ years of knowing them. We have grown, aged, grown-up (me 😄 well sort of) then apart by distance and together again. ❤ It is some of life’s gifts we look at, either up close and together or from afar and separately. We 4 wonderful people choose to stay in sporadic contact and it is good.
Some years ago, my mom came to visit from the west coast, and on a sudden impulse we decided to drive up to her home town in upstate New York. She hadn’t been back in about 35 years. It was midnight when we arrived, after driving many scary miles with water on both sides of the road–we hadn’t known there had just been a flood! We stopped at a pay phone (remember those?) and she called her girlhood best friend, Nina, whom she’d kept in touch with by letter (remember those?) and rare phone call, and Nina said “Come on over!” I’ve had (& sadly lost) 3 old friends that I could surprise at midnight after a flood–they were priceless.
And these comments remind again why “in my life” is one of those songs that resonates with me so much. Your web host, Randy, and I have been friends since age 15. These posts are so heart-warming.