What makes a friendship last a lifetime?
I dunno, but I’ve been lucky enough to keep tied to at least a half dozen people since my teens, in relationships that lasted longer than many of our marriages.
Maybe we've been separated by miles -- or even continents -- but the six or seven of us have kept the conversation going, while some changed partners, careers and even sexual orientation.
As Gertrude Stein (must have) said, a friend is a friend is a friend.
Antoinette and I have known each other 40 years, but she’s spent more than half that time in Central and South America. Someday I'll publish our very rich BI (before-Internet) correspondence. Good to have you home, Chica!
Some of us have noted that more and more seniors and not-so-seniors are “early adapters,” turning to the Internet for support and social interaction. Now Harvard and others are studying the phenomenon.
Read all about it in the Technology section of today’s New York Times:
Online, ‘a Reason to Keep on Going’
Like many older people, Paula Rice of Island City, Ky., has grown isolated in recent years. Her four grown children live in other states, her two marriages ended in divorce, and her friends are scattered. Most days, she does not see another person.
But Ms. Rice, 73, is far from lonely. Housebound after suffering a heart attack two years ago, she began visiting the social networking sites Eons.com, an online community for aging baby boomers, and PoliceLink.com (she is a former police dispatcher). Now she spends up to 14 hours a day in online conversations.
“I was dying of boredom,” she said. “Eons, all by its lonesome, gave me a reason to keep on going.”
That more and more people in Ms. Rice’s generation are joining networks like Eons, Facebook and MySpace is hardly news. Among older people who went online last year, the number visiting social networks grew almost twice as fast as the overall rate of Internet use among that group, according to the media measurement company comScore. But now researchers who focus on aging are studying the phenomenon to see whether the networks can provide some of the benefits of a group of friends, while being much easier to assemble and maintain.
Don't miss "At Card Table, Clues to a Lucid Old Age"in today's New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/22/health/research/22brain.html?_r=1&hp
The story reveals new information from research on 90-somethings, especially those who have no signs of dementia. Of course, we'll all be in that pool, right?
Two factors keep showing up as important, if you want to keep those brain cells accessible. One is regular social interaction with friends or family, and the other is the use of grey matter. Wonder if today's young seniors, like us, will benefit from the use of the Internet, which provides both mental stimulation and a virtual social life? Would make an interesting doctoral dissertation, but the candidate might have to wait 20-30 years for the degree.
Friend Karen, who participates on this blog, came up north to visit while we were in the Oakland area. This was our first visit in several years.
Karen and I went to junior high and high school together, part of a group of girls who hung out together in those halcyon days and have kept in touch ever since, even if only occasionally.
Unlike your relatives, I guess you really don't need to contact close friends very often. When you know someone from the very beginning of your and their adult life -- as we did -- you more or less can pick up the conversation where you left off, whether that was last week, last year, or 40 years ago. We know how each one of us operates and what makes us do the things we do, so we don't need to hear the details.
All in all, the 8-10 of us still standing have moved all over the place, married, had kids, divorced, had cancer, have found new ways to live, but otherwise we're the same people we were almost 50 years ago. Our hair may be mostly grey or white these days, but when we get together, we see only blonds and brunettes. That's what friends are for: They remember your best days for you.
Karen is an artisit with a beauful, gentle and somewhat wild soul. You can probably tell that just by looking at her picture. We spent a couple of hours this afternoon walking and talking along Piedmont Avenue, some of that time with her lovely daughter, Jenny.