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Submitted by: Patricia Bubash

“Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.”

I am sure that former Girl Scouts will remember singing this song. Arms locked around each other, circled around a campfire, enjoying the camaraderie of the moment.  Did you think about what the words meant as you joined voice with the other girls?  My guess is that you were more concerned with the depleting number of s’mores than the words of this song! (Or maybe that was just me…)

 Funny how certain words return to you at the most unexpected times.  These words from the Girl Scout song came to me on two occasions last week.  A “newer” friend emailed asking if we could meet for lunch. This is friend is a former colleague.  Our friendship did not evolve until after we both left the real work world- our world as school counselors.  Our status as close friends is a mere ten years old.  This time frame classifies her as “new” in my ranking of new and old friends.

The other friend who called for a lunch date that same week, definitely, fits the “old” classification as we have known each other for almost 45 years.  She was my next door neighbor, a surrogate to my daughters, my Triple A when my car would die, more a sister than a friend.  We have shared experiences, stories, and secrets bonding us as Best Friends Forever or as the younger crowd calls it, BFF’s.

It was a busy week, and to have two lunch dates within four days of each other was a scheduling problem, and a dietary one!  I don’t need to eat out too many times in a week as I find myself eating more than I should.  And, I try to keep myself on some type of schedule that makes me feel productive in my writing, volunteering, and occasional housekeeping.  It was at this time of decision making, that the words of the Girl Scout song came to mind, “Make New Friends, Keep the Old”.  I negated my opposition to two dates in four days.  Friendships are the blessings of life.  It is friendships that give us the support needed during tough times, the shoulder to cry on, someone we can be silly with, laugh over embarrassing situations.  A friend is someone who chooses us, different from the relative who comes through genetics.

My childhood and teen years were spent on Naval bases.  As a Navy brat, friendships were made, then lost, as my dad was transferred from base to base.  I remember keeping the lines of communication going with former friends for a couple of years, then we lost track of each other.  Upon moving to St. Louis as a young bride, I was awed that my husband’s friends had known each other through grade school, high school, and now, as adults, were still in contact.  I have never gone to a high school reunion.  I can’t even remember all the schools that I attended.  So I am quite envious of friendships that last for decades.  This is why I so treasure my friendship with my former neighbor, “old” friend.  She has known me the longest, has my history, watched my children grow into adulthood, and then cuddled their children.  She has sat with me as I cried over my marriage ending; a child’s failed marriage, the loss of a beloved family pet. She has been there when I finally achieved a hard earned college degree, helped me find my first job, and written excuses for my daughter’s school absences (the principal called to verify just whose signature this was!) We have seen a lot of life together.  And, for this reason, I have told her, “You can do no wrong in my eyes”.

My new friend does not have my history as does my old friend, but we have had some bonding experiences.  Both of us choosing to leave the field of education for pursuits in other areas.  We had both been divorced, then, remarried.  Our mutual love for volunteerism, retelling stories of students, and the enjoyment of nature are shared interests.  What we didn’t share is the loss of a child.  My friend suffered the loss of her eldest son when he was 28.  It is a grief that she lives with, but has found solace by visiting children’s hospitals with her therapy dogs.  I admire her courage in coping with this loss by doing for others.

As we get older, making new friends seems to take more effort, and happens less. In our younger years, our children helped us in this endeavor:  Little League, parent meetings, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, simply living in a neighborhood filled with kids brought new people to our door.  Now, the children are grown, and often living far away.  There are no school meetings or outings, and old friends move away or become ill or just seem to fade out of our lives.  Reaching out, and making the effort to get to know someone does not come so readily in our maturing years.  And, yet, we benefit so much by interactions with new acquaintances who may become new friends as did Sharon and I (coincidently, both friends are “Sharons”).

It is energizing and stimulating to make ourselves available to new people.  In choosing to be receptive to others, we open ourselves to new opinions, ideas, knowledge, even cultures. Who knows? You may find a “Sharon” or two to be your BFF-Best Friend Forever!

Oh, I almost forgot, I, actually had three lunch dates last week. As we were leaving our Sunday church service, on the spur of the moment, a couple asked us to join them for lunch.  I hesitated for a minute, and replied, “Sure”. Could be the making of “new friends” who might just become “old friends”.

Share with OneLegacy your “new or old, BFF” friend stories.  We aren’t around a campfire, but we do have an interest in becoming your community of friends via our shared stories.

Revisit this classic Girl Scout song here: Make New Friends

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