What does friendship mean to you?
To me, it is a deep and personal connection, one which evolves as I look back on many long years and the friendships I have nurtured, and some that have dropped by the wayside!
As I reflect on my years of friendships, it’s interesting to observe the different environment, situations and geographic reasons that allow us to connect with people, or not.
Having moved interstate and a long distance from my childhood and nursing friends when I married, it was difficult to be part of their lives and vice versa, but our bond was maintained through an occasional visit and many letters.
(Read about it in my book ‘Back of Beyond www.jennyold.com)
My nursing training gave me my oldest and dearest friends. Distance has been my enemy as I have lived a long way away from them all. However, the strong bond endures through thick and thin. We worked together, shared boyfriends, (not at the same time!), travelled overseas, partaking in the good times and the bad. (Read about our overseas travels in my book ‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’ www.jennyold.com)
Regular re-unions kept me in the loop. Every ten years our close group would meet for a weekend, with our husbands. Our first was at Mount Buffalo Chalet. We departed North Queensland in 40-degree heat, only to discover on arrival that we would be enjoying cross country skiing with a lot of borrowed clothing! Mitta Mitta Lodge, the Great Ocean Road, Stradbroke Island to name a few of our destinations. Then we changed to every five years as we became aware of health issues.
Recently I attended a wonderful fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration of my dear friends Jilly and Snow. This was a very special occasion as this brave and positive couple were facing serious health issues. Seventy guests gathered at a winery on the Bellarine Peninsular in Victoria. People had travelled from far and wide. The friendships in attendance were from all aspects of Jilly and Snow’s life, from school, university, nursing, travel, farming, corporate and in retirement. All the guests shared a connection through our friendship with this couple.
The speeches were hilarious with the grandchildren involved and the day was filled with laughter and love. I had the pleasure of connecting with many friends from long ago.
The guests of honour were there until the end, smiling and laughing and engaging with everyone, Jilly in a wheelchair and Snow in pain, but no-one would know. They loved every minute of their day.
I travelled from the Gold Coast to be there, and it was bittersweet for me as I knew it was my final goodbye. Our friendship of fifty-five years was deep and meaningful, but it wasn’t as sad as saying goodbye at a funeral because of this happy occasion.
As I reflect on the stages of my life and the friends who have come and gone, and the many who have stayed, I know I have friends for life.
The friends we have formed through our time at ‘McAllister’ are just as important and special. Different environments create different friends. No group is more or less important in our hearts.
I have also discovered that it is important to understand that it is OK for some friends to come and go. Rather than trying to hold onto a connection, if it’s not reciprocal, it is important to let it go without guilt.
I have been lucky to meet many people from all walks of life who I can call my friends. Maybe I only see them occasionally, but we pick up where we left off effortlessly. That is a true friendship.
Having had several moves in our long life we have gathered an eclectic mix from Deniliquin, Melbourne, Sydney, the Gulf region, Toowoomba, and the Gold Coast.
However, having been involved with the Isolated Children’s Parent’s Association both State and Federally during our School of the Air and Distance Education stage, we have friends all over the country!
To all my friends, old and new, THANKYOU
Jenny Old AUTHOR
‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’
‘Back of Beyond’ Facebook