Preparation

I thought I was prepared.

After all, for the past two years, my father had been living with Stage IV colon cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and kidney failure. That’s a lot for an 87 year old. But when my stepmother called me on the phone the other night, I could tell immediately that I was about to hear the worst news possible, and I realized I wasn’t prepared after all.

In the past two years, I’ve made four trips to Florida on what I assumed were “last time” visits. But my Dad’s will to live kept trumping the frailty of his body.  Even though I knew he was living on borrowed time, I was expecting him to keep pulling miracles out of his hat, keep surprising us with unexpected rallies and recoveries.  When he was hospitalized briefly two months ago, I contemplated making another trip down, but decided against it. I had a lot going on, the tickets were expensive…yadda yadda.  I would wait, I thought, wait until November. And indeed I did make a trip in November,  but it was to help my stepmother make arrangements for his cremation. I said my goodbyes, but only to his body lying still and cold in a makeshift casket.

It was slightly strange being in Florida alone with my stepmother. She has been my Dad’s chief caregiver throughout his long illness, even as she works a full time job in retail, and for that I was so grateful. But I felt as if I were the representative from the first part of my Dad’s life, the almost 50 years he spent married to my mother, his high school sweetheart, while Sharon stood for his Second Act – the new life he embarked upon in his mid-sixties, moving to Florida, marrying a woman two decades younger, cultivating new hobbies (golf, poker) and new friends. We had completely different memories of this man we were putting to rest, and we were trying to reconcile that with the reality of our loss.

Meanwhile, back at home, my mother deals with her own private grief, one not even acknowledged by society. The break up of their marriage was not by her choice, and though she had come to some sort of terms with it in the ensuing 25 years, there was still a large part of her heart that belonged to that young man she fell in love with in the early 1940’s, the one to whom she devoted four decades of her life.

As for me, I find myself speeding through the stages of grief.  Those few days in Florida had a tinge of unreality, as if I were going through the motions without any sense of rhyme or reason. Then I started to feel angry – first with everybody around me who were oblivious to my sadness and continued about their trivial pursuits as if everything in the world was normal, and then with my Dad, who had once again taken me by surprise like he did 25 years ago when he packed up and left our family to start his new life.

Now, two weeks later, there is a veil of sadness inside me, one that washes over me at odd times. Like when I see his handwriting on a box of tools still sitting in my mother’s garage. When I look at the wedding picture of he and my mother that I keep on the mantle.  When I drive by a Walmart Store, where my Dad worked during his retirement. When I see his phone number in the Favorites list on my phone.

When I see my grandson, who will never know this great-grandfather who would have loved him.

I am no stranger to death. In the past few years I have lost my in-laws, a beloved uncle and aunt, and three elderly neighbors of whom I was inordinately fond. I thought I knew what grief was all about, was almost smug about my ability to handle it.

But the loss of a parent is something different, and I think it’s especially so for an only child.

I wasn’t prepared for it at all.

TLC Tours: The Supreme Macaroni Company

supreme macaroni companyI’ve read nearly all of Adriana Trigiani’s books, and I love her down-to-earth characters, love the small towns they live in, love their histories (which are much like her own, growing up in New York, with her mother’s love of cooking, her grandparent’s shoe making and clothing design instilled in her very blood).

The Supreme Macaroni Company opens on Christmas Eve and continues the story begun in Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine, the story of Valentine Angelini, a shoe designer, and her fiancé Gianluca.  It’s a story of love, of family, of legacy.  It’s a heart-breaking and heart-warming tale of real life and real people. I raced through it and enjoyed it immensely.

When I said that I had “read” most of Trigiani’s books, I should have said I “heard” them, because I’ve listened to them on audio. Of all of them, I’ve most enjoyed those read by the author. What a surprise to hear her voice – deep and mellifluous, a mixture of Southern drawl and New York speak. But since hearing it, I can’t imagine her stories told in any other voice. Trigiani writes great dialogue (no surprise she’s also a screenwriter and playwright), and is now in production for a TV movie based on her Big Stone Gap series.

I highly recommend The Supreme Macaroni Company, and all of Trigiani’s books. When I read them, I feel like I’m immersed in the big families that characterize each one, wrapped in the embrace of their joy of living. And that’s always a good feeling.

Thanks to TLC Tours for the opportunity to read this book.

 

 

TLC Book Tours: The Round House

I’d thought she was the same mother only with a hollow face, jutting elbows, spiky legs. But I was beginning to notice that she was someone different from the before-mother. The one I thought of as my real mother. I had believed that my mother would emerge at some point. I would get my before mom back. But now it entered my head that this might not happen. Some warm part of her had gone and might not return. This new formidable woman would take getting to know, and I was thirteen, I didn’t have the time.  from The Round House, by Louise Erdrich

the round houseI’ve always been a little bit afraid of Louise Erdrich’s books. I don’t have any good reason for that, and I’m happy to state that reading The Round House has completely cured me of any fear.

Other than the fact that she’s a damn formidable writer.

This National Book Award winning novel, published in 2012, has been compared to a modern day To Kill A Mockingbird, and I think that’s apt. It’s the story of a 13-year old boy who lives with his family on an reservation in North Dakota. Joe Coutts’ mother Geraldine is brutally attacked one spring day in 1988. She is too traumatized to discuss the event or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband Bazil (a tribal judge).  Joe tries to help his mother, but she refuses to leave her bed. So he finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world of intrigue, long-held grudges, avarice, and tribal injustice.

In short, 13 year old Joe Coutts has to become an adult before he’s quite ready.

With remarkable maturity,  insight and courage, Joe and his friends set out find his mother’s attacker. Their quest takes them to The Round House, a sacred place of worship for the Ojibwe. It is here that the attack took place, and the four boys eventually uncover an entire realm of secrets that lead them to exact a very personal justice.

As coming-of-age stories go, The Round House should be considered at the top of a list. It’s marvelously written, and displays amazing insight into the mind and heart of this young man. I loved the interplay and relationship between Joe and his father and mother. It felt so familiar to me as an only child – Joe’s heightened sensitivity and sense of responsibility.

The portrayal of life on the reservation with it’s many injustices was enlightening, if maddening.  There is so much work yet to be done to create an equality of life style for our Native Americans, and it shames me.

The Round House was a fabulous introduction to Erdrich’s work. Since I finished it, I’ve already picked up two more of her novels, and look forward to reading them with eager anticipation.

Thanks to TLC Tours for the opportunity to read this novel.

September Saturday

15586816-the-pile-of-autumn-leaves-with-a-rake-and-wheelbarrowAlready, the last Saturday in September.  There is a purposeful intensity to the sun – it hangs low in a purely blue sky and penetrates the long sleeves of my t-shirt with heat. I’m still here, it tells me, burning through the cotton shirt, don’t count me out yet.

Oh don’t worry, sun, I will not ignore you. I step out onto the deck, intending to to sweep it clear of grass clippings and the first flurry of golden poplar leaves that have started raining down on it. Instead, I just open the gate and let the dogs scamper down into the yard. They each find their own patch of sunlight and lay right down in it, looking up at me with grateful eyes for the opportunity to replenish their own stores of solar energy. I am supposed to  keep them on a leash , but this is a rule I break all the time. My dogs always stay close to me, and as long as I keep a sharp lookout for squirrels that might entice them, I know they will behave admirably.

So I sit on the step and lean back against the railing. There is no human noise today, and I love that. Birds are constantly chattering here because so many of us have feeders, and there is just enough breeze to rustle the dry leaves. But no lawnmowers, no cars, not even any dogs barking. Hard to believe there are 320 homes in such close proximity.

It’s 3:00 and I’m tired. Every afternoon about 3:00, my energy gives out. The pattern of my days is such that I’m usually finishing up errands or work about 3:00, often driving back from my mother’s house after taking her shopping or picking up the dogs. I think I’ve always gotten tired about 3:00 – maybe after all those years of being on school schedule, my body is used to the end-of-school-day let down. Until recently, I would just power through…continue on with whatever was next on the schedule, push myself to keep going, keep doing.

But last week I decided to stop doing that, stop pushing myself farther than my body wants me to go. When 3:00 comes and I am tired, I will rest. I will find the nearest bench and sit on it for a while. If I’m home, I will take off my shoes and curl up on the corner of the couch, pull a soft blanket around my shoulder, and read. I will treat my tired 3:00 body with tenderness and care. I will pour it some water, make it some tea, listen to it’s creaks and groans and let it be still for just a little while.

And on days like this beautiful last Saturday of September, I will sit on my porch and lean my shoulder against the rough railing of the deck. I will let the sun splash across my face, I will breathe in the dusty smell of drying leaves. I will not look at nor give a thought to Twitter feeds or Facebook posts. I won’t even bury my nose in the pages of whatever book is usually in my hands.

Because September Saturdays don’t last forever, and neither will I. It’s  alright for me now, in the September of my own life, to just be still sometimes. To be quiet. There is no need for me to always Do Something, even if it’s something pleasurable. Sometimes the gift is not in Doing but in Being.

And so here I Be.

Momentary Pastures

15586816-the-pile-of-autumn-leaves-with-a-rake-and-wheelbarrow

Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere

its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply

in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island

of this summer, this Now, that is now nowhere

except underfoot, moldering

in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seed

and the wandering of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure

painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing

to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever

in these momentary pastures.

~Mary Oliver

I forget sometimes how therapeutic poetry can me.

A good therapist can distill a good many of their patient’s fears and longings and wonderings into one well-aimed sentence or question, one that pushes you back in your seat with a firm Aha!  A good poet, like a good therapist, crafts their words with the most economical impact. Their words become splashes of color on a canvas, pieces of fabric in a quilt, vital messages for the wounded, wondering spirit.

And so Mary Oliver offers me this wisdom today, reminds me that “everything lives, shifting from one bright vision to another, forever in these momentary pastures.”

I’m in love with my momentary pasture, with the bright blue of my sky, the energizing crispness in the air. I’m in love with my blue fleece sweater and my soft black yoga pants. I’m in love with clam chowder and the chunks of dark grainy bread I will dip into it.

I’m in love with my living these early days of fall, so SO grateful to be where I am, and with whom.

Sometimes, a good therapist need only show us our own “bright vision,” need only make clear that this life we are living is saturated with “riched spiced residues.”

And then, illuminated, we go forth into whatever season surrounds us, and live it.

The Sunday Salon: Having It All

sister-mother-husband-dog_Cover

To me, having it all – if one wants to define it at all – is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up. Like an eclipse. A perfect eclipse is when the moon is at its perigee, the Earth is farthest from the sun, and when the sun is observed near zenith. I have no idea what that means…but one thing is clear: It’s rare.

Personally, I believe having it all can last longer than that. It might be a fleeting moment – drinking a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning when the light is especially bright. It might be a few undisturbed hours with a novel I’m in love with, a three-hour lunch with my best friend, reading Goodnight Moon to a child, watching a Nadal-Federer match. Having it all definitely involves an ability to seize the moment. It’s when all your senses are engaged. It’s when you feel at peace with someone you love. Having it all are moments in life when you suspend judgment. It’s when I attain that elusive thing called peace of mind.

Not particularly American, unquantifiable, unidentifiable, different for everyone, but you know it when you have it.

 

Delia Ephron‘s  new collection of essays,  Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.), is a wise, warm, and witty exploration of what’s really important in this 21st century. In her own inimitable Eprhon-istic vernacular, she writes about Life, Love, Family, Dogs and Bakeries. Like her sister Nora, with whom she collaborated on everything from dinner parties to award winning screenplays, Ephron has a distinctive voice that rings in the readers ear.  Her writing style is so conversational that reading her words feels like chatting with her while drinking coffee and sharing slivers of  a perfect chocolate brownie from Spoon bakery.

I especially loved her take on “having it all,” because, like the Ephron sisters I was raised in that era of the 1970’s when that idea first arose in women’s heads. Marriage, children, and careers were not mutually exclusive entities, we were told.  After all, “we are strong, we are invincible, we are women!”

And we have Helen Reddy cheering us on, so what more could we possibly need?

“Our job as writers,” Ephron says, “is to figure out what we can do. Only do what you can do. It’s a rule I live by.”  What Ephron does so well is combine humor and poignancy to illuminate the human condition, define the family dynamic, and make us feel a little less alone as we navigate our life in general.

 

 

 

 

TLC Book Tour: The Fountain of St. James Court or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman

The Fountain of St. James CourtLooooong title, but it makes sense because this is actually two books for the price of one, two completely different novels taking turns with one another, but intertwined rather neatly into one thematic structure.

The book (or books) weave together the lives of two women, about 69 year old Kathryn Morgan, a contemporary writer who has just completed an historic novel about Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun, a renowned portrait painter of the late 18th century France.  Morgan, who lives in St. James Court in historic Louisville, Kentucky, uses the fountain sculpture located in that district as a focal point and title-piece for the contemporary novel (Fountain), which is told in alternating sections with the historical novel (Portrait) she has supposedly just completed.

I’ll be honest – I initially had some doubts. The first chapters, particularly the Fountain portion, seemed almost too sprawling, too musing, too stream of consciousness. And then I realized I needed to read this as if I were reading Virginia Woolf, as if I were looking inside the characters mind as her thoughts tumbled about freely, read it noticing the really exquisite descriptions of place and person, read it not for plot or action, but for thought and sensation.

Once I made that tiny shift in perspective, I was in love.

I started to love this very personal glimpse into Kathryn’s life, loved the way she thought about life and art, loved the way she paid attention to her beautiful home, her friends, loved the way she examined her own past as she reflected on the artist’s life in her historical novel. And the story of Vigee-Le Brun was captivating from the beginning, as it traced this artist’s life from her earliest childhood until almost the moment of her death as an old woman.

Sena Jeter Naslund

Sena Naslund Jeter has written a very emotionally evocative look at an artist’s lifetime, using these two women from completely different times in history, but with very similar gifts and burdens. Both take great pride in their artistic expression and both have an unwavering love for their children. Both are willing to sacrifice much to complete their art.  Both are intriguing and sympathetic characters, whose reflections on a lifetime of artistic achievements make for compelling reading.

Sena Jeter Naslund has written eight previous works of fiction, and since I’ve not read any of them, I will definitely be looking up her backlist. She teaches at the University of Lousiville, and resides in St. James Court – with her own view of The Fountain.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the introduction to this author and the opportunity to read this lovely novel.

Connect with the author on Facebook.

Other stops on the TLC Tour.

Buy the book at Amazon.

The Sunday Salon: Sufficient Grace

It can be as small the fluttering wings of a hummingbird hovering over a purple petuniaJuvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris), or as expansive as a doctor’s smile offering a clean bill of health after a lingering illness. You can find it brewing in a china teapot, between the covers of a book, or in the melody of your favorite song. You feel it when a baby leans his head against your shoulder or when your husband takes your hand during an evening walk.

I will never be this happy again, you think to yourself. Nothing could be more beautiful than this.

Grace.

The word grace has two familiar meanings, and in my mind they combine to create a complete definition of the concept.  “Seemingly effortless beauty, charm, and refinement,” says the Oxford Dictionary, but also “Divine love and protection bestowed freely by God.” When we acknowledge the effortlessly beautiful moments of our lives and relationships, then we are most aware of something divine, something that offers us protection from the harsh realities of life.

Sunday’s are grace-full days for me, and part of me that wishes the world closed up on Sunday’s, the way it used to  when I was young (oh now I’ve become one of those women who hearkens back to the good old days). But I wish more people could have a day to savor, to slow down their pace and experience whatever grace life brings their way. I like the idea of setting aside one day in the week to honor grace, notice it where it falls, give it as a gift.  Even though I’ve lately fallen out of the church-going habit, I find myself going quiet on Sunday mornings, giving myself some time to be still and notice some of the things I think of as belonging to God – the changing seasons, the blue sky, the faithful companionship of my animals. I’m thankful for waking up with a healthy body and mind, because for so many it is otherwise. I’m grateful for this beautiful home and the loved ones who share it with me. I allow myself the luxury of time on Sundays, time to take the dogs for a longer walk than usual, time to read one more chapter in my book, time to search through all my music until I find just what I need to hear.  I will myself to be patient and to move slowly when my usual weekday tendency is to rush and hurry through the hours.

These are the ways I let grace into my life, acknowledge it’s presence as a gift. How full of grace is this life, when you wake in the morning with heath and love, surrounded by food and warmth, when you rise from a soft bed and put on clean and comfortable clothes that fit your body. When you speak daily with people who care about you and are willing to listen to your stories, and when you sit quietly and listen to theirs.

This is Grace, this beautiful and charming life of mine.  A gift from God, it’s sufficient to lead me from hour to hour, year to year, decade to decade.

The Feel Good Shot

There must have been a bad moon rising last week. Every day brought with it some disruption, upset, or annoyance – computer glitches, household mechanical failures, sleepless nights, sick dogs. It was in pursuit of a remedy for the latter that I became acquainted with the notion of a Feel Good Shot.

Both of my little dogs are prone to digestive upsets, Magic in particular. We never know what brings on these occasional bouts of abdominal distress, because he’s not a forager – is in fact, a rather picky eater. But they definitely make him miserable for a few days.

And when one of my dogs is miserable, than I’m miserable too. That’s just the way of it.

My vet offered a new medication that’s akin to a miracle drug for all manner of canine intestinal distress. She gave Magic an injection which was supposed to take effect immediately. “He should feel better by the time you get home,” she promised. “We call it the Feel Good shot.”

Ah, a Feel Good shot. At the end of the week, I desperately needed one of those for myself.

The thing about a series of upsets – even relatively minor ones like those of last week – it that they derail me from my carefully laid plans and routines. I am a creature of habit, I love my daily routines, and when they get disrupted I don’t feel good. They also prevent me from putting myself first, and though that sounds completely self absorbed, I finally understand that if I don’t take care of myself and my own emotional and physical needs, I can’t possibly take care of the other people and things in my life.

But that means recognizing what Feeling Good means. Like most women, I’m more likely to think about what’s going to make other people feel good than what it takes for me to feel that way myself. To even devote the time to consider what’s necessary for my own happiness seemed self-indulgent. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being considerate of other people, or with the desire to care for them and make them happy. But I’ve finally accepted the fact that I have to put myself at the top of that list, because if I don’t Feel Good about myself and my own life, there’s nothing I can do to make the people I love feel good about theirs.

Feeling Good for me is the sense of peace that comes from feeling energized, organized, confident, attractive, and loved. How do I get to that place? What’s my Feel Good Shot?

The daily routine, of course, which means my morning coffee and book time,  exercise, productive work, being outdoors, regular dinner time, evening relaxation with a good TV program or movie, and a relaxing bath before bed. But beyond that, it’s being able to do the things I find fulfilling – writing, reading widely, playing music, keeping a nice home, spending quality time with my family.

When I was young, I got allergy shots every week, and the allergist would specially blend the injection each time depending on the time of year or the particular allergens that were affecting me. Like those allergy shots, I think our feel good shots need to be blended exactly the same way, with specific and very individualized ingredients depending on our emotional and physical needs of the day.  There are times when all I want to do is play music, or read books. There are other times when my legs just itch for a long bike ride or walk. Sometimes nothing makes me feel better than scrubbing the bathtub until it shines or cleaning all the clutter out of my closet.

The point is to learn what makes you feel good – what calms your anxious heart, makes your inner spirit smile, fills you with a sense of well being. Take notice of the things you do as you go about the business of your own precious Life in General. Is it that first cup of coffee in the morning that makes getting out of bed worthwhile? Or is it a bracing hot shower and singing along with your  favorite tunes as they blast through the steamy air? What energizes you through your workday? Does a comforting, healthy lunch you packed at home the night before or joining with your co-workers around a common table, sharing a meal and conversation give you the extra boost you need to make it until quitting time. And what sets you up for a restful sleep? Curling up on the couch with your significant other and watching a good movie, reading bedtime stories to your kids, doing yoga or meditating, writing in a gratitude journal?

I promise you that feeling good can be just that simple and routine. If you start to notice those times throughout your normal day when you’re the most happy, the most content, the most productive, and then look around to see why, you’ll find all the ingredients for your own Feel Good Shot right there for the taking.

Give it a try. And come back and tell me what works for you.

Feel good shots are meant to be shared.

 

Bookends

Old friends, old friends sat on their parkbench like bookends
A newspaper blowin’ through the grass
Falls on the round toes of the high shoes of the old friends

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy

Old friends, memory brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears

old friendsI was only a teenager when I first heard the Simon and Garfunkle song, Old Friends. It was poignant to me even then, because I was preparing to say goodbye to my high school friends. “Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange to be seventy.” At seventeen, I couldn’t imagine myself at seventy. Now, only 13 years away from that birthday, I see it much more clearly.

Some of my closest friends right now are all in their seventies, living happy, busy lives, engaged in the modern world and doing the things they’ve always enjoyed. But because we are from different generations, my friends and I don’t have memories that “brush the same years.”  I was plodding away in elementary school when they were graduating high school and college. And when I took my first steps into the world of young adulthood, they were in the midst of juggling marriage, work, and family life.  In some ways they are role models, in some ways mentors, in other ways, second mothers.

Especially dear to me, then, are the few friendships I have with women my own age. I’ve recently spent some time with one of my closest friends in that category, which reminded me how much I need someone like that in my life. She and I face the same life choices and changes  – aging parents, adult children, grandchildren entering our lives, looming retirement – while pondering  the next steps in our own life journeys.  And so I imagine – I hope – we will go into the future like a female version of that pair in the song, sitting on the park bench like bookends, waiting for the sun. Or, at the very least, instant messaging one another from afar,  old fingers tapping out the news and views across cyberspace.

Since my parent’s divorce, 25 years ago, my 86 year old mother has had a revolving door of women friends, most all of them ladies around her age, some married, some widowed. As the years pass, the roster changes as death claims one after the other. Most of the time, she is sanguine about it. Last year, though, she lost a relatively new friend, and this loss was a crushing blow.

“We talk about so many things,” she told me, when they first began their daily phone chats, ‘what it was like back in the old days when we were young. She is always cheerful and so interesting to talk to. ” When we first learned of this lady’s terminal illness, my mother was devastated.  “I don’t think I can stand to lose her,” she said. But of course, she did stand it. Because what else can you do, after all. And as we age, the loss of friends becomes more inevitable, making those that remain even more cherished.

My mother rarely sees the few friends she has left, unlike the friends of her youth who were young housewives and mothers in the neighborhood, taking turns gathering in each others living rooms for coffee and confections.  Today, my mother’s frequent phone conversations  with other women her age serve as a lifeline during a stage that is often marked by illness and pain. I’m finding that social media serves much the same function for me, helps me keep in touch with friends who live far away, or remain connected when our busy lives don’t intersect in real-time ways. It’s not perfect, but those Facebook status updates, Tweets, and emails help us maintain a hold, however tenuous, on one another’s lives.

“Friendships matter,” writes author Beth Kephart in her memoir Into the Tangle of Friendship. “They rebut death, they tie us to this earth, and, when we’re gone, they keep us here; our friends remember us.”  The nature of friendship changes with age and circumstance. But it’s never a sure thing, should never be taken for granted.  The friendships I have lost over the years, the ones that were formed circumstantially and withered away when circumstances changed, the ones that seemed solid and yet proved too fragile to withstand misunderstanding, those relationships continue to haunt me, wavering ghosts that hover in the shadows of my heart.

As I move farther along on the continuum of life’s road, I find myself wishing for more friendships, wondering about the “auld acquaintances” that have never quite been forgotten. Being an only child puts me on a precariously lonely life path. The fact that my husband, my mother, and my son are all singletons also means our extended family is – well, almost nonexistent. So my friends are a buffer between me and the totally solitary life that looms larger with each passing year.

Philosopher Henri Nouwen wrote, “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

The Simon and Garfunkle tune ends with these words:

Long ago it could be  I had a photograph

Preserve your memories

They’re all that’s left you.

Some of life’s most precious memories involve friends, the people who sit companionably beside us on the park bench as we pass from season to season.

Treasure yours.