By Sandy Miller-Jacobs
Friends play such an important role in our lives. When we were young, we played with our friends, whether it was games of pretend or riding bikes or playing sports. Often, the time we spent with our friends enabled us to do something we couldn’t do alone. You might play Solitaire by yourself, but you couldn’t play Go Fish alone. Nor could you play any of your board games alone. Monopoly and Scrabble definitely needed at least one friend, if not two or three. A bike ride was always more fun when friends joined you to ride through the neighborhood. Sports, from “Hit the Penny” to tennis, always needed friends not only in order to play but also to cheer us on.
As we got older, our friends were there to spend time with, whether to talk, reminisce, or think up new adventures. A friend was there to help sort out our ideas, to dream with, to share our ups and downs, especially during our teen years. Through high school and college, we spent hours talking about people we dated, teachers who frustrated or challenged us, songs and singers we liked, our future lives.
While our friendship groups changed as some married, moved away, or ventured in directions we wouldn’t follow, there were always some who remained in our lives. These are the friends who knew us when we were young, knew our homes, our parents, siblings, and even our cousins. They have served as reminders, knowing who we were and who we still are. We have been there for each other as we have aged, and we still remember the younger versions of ourselves. They have seen us in the best and worst of times – through the joys of marriage and the pain of divorce, sharing the joys and difficulties of children and grandchildren, and supporting us through the deaths of loved ones.
It’s the friendships that last over time that remain the most important to us. In many ways, they keep us centered. They know what upsets us and what brings us joy. They know just what to say to raise or keep our spirits us. They recognize the parts of us that have grown with us, and they reflect how we have matured over time. Only our siblings and cousins may have the same sense of who we have been and who we have become.
So, make time to be with your friends as well as relatives whom you consider friends. It’s reminiscent of a song from Girl Scouts: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”
Sandy finally retired after nearly 50 years in Special Education. Along the way, she married, completed her doctorate, raised two daughters, married them off, and became a grandmother. She says that BOLLI is the key to maintaining brain function through teaching and learning while meeting new friends. Her hobbies now include photography, memoir writing, and aging. (She was instrumental in creating the SIG on Aging with Enthusiasm and Resilience.) Sometimes she takes the risk and shares her hobbies and ideas with BOLLI members!