When I pictured old age, I imagined my best friend Madeleine and I sitting on a porch in comfy chairs talking as we always did throughout the day. Perhaps we’d be talking about our children or grandchildren, perhaps our husbands if they too made it to old age, or we’d be reminiscing about events in our lives we had shared over a friendship that lasted 60, 70 or even 80 years. Sadly, we got to have just 40 years together. While I’ve learned to be grateful that we had those 40, I surely would have loved a few more decades on that porch.
Recently my friend Marty sent me a clipping from the Washington Post about four women who will all turn 100 this year who have been friends since childhood. The women grew up together in Southwest Washington. As girls they played jacks and jumped rope. At one point, two of them lived in the same house and three of them had babies in 1933. Through the ups and downs of their lives their friendship endured. As the article notes, “They can still send each other into hysterics. And they share memories of places and people no one else remembers.”
Sharing memories is an important part of long-time friendships. You can’t recreate that with newer relationships. Judith Schmidt talks about her old friend Shirl as her “old country” in her Friendship Dialogues story about her two best friends who died from cancer—Shirley Glickman at 65 and Nina Liebman at 50. Old friends know your past and they know the people you have loved who are no longer alive. This connection gets more important to you as you age when there are fewer people around who knew you when.
You can read more friendship stories at Friendship Dialogues and share a friendship story or photo of your own.