We decided to take the Vesuvius ferry off Saltspring in order to land at Crofton on Vancouver Island so we could rendezvous with old friends Charlie and Leslie. They have been on this blog before. Way back in 2005 we visited them in their home in Telkwa and explored Prince Rupert together.
There is something reassuring and right-feeling about connecting with friends from the past. We've known C&L since 2003 when Charlie and I met at one of Nathan Harms' poetry gatherings in Edmonton. Since then we've kept in touch loosely via email and poetry until we visited them in 2005. They finally repaid our visit last summer just before they made the big decision to leave the north and settle on Vancouver Island.
Our visit to them this August included a tour of their beautiful church, St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church.
...and around town. Here we are posed in front of "The Little Inn on Willow' billed as the world's smallest hotel.
Then they took us back to where they live and showed us their new home built on scenic property and Charlie's new shop (he makes custom boots).
Later in the week we spent time with Tom and Marnie. Marnie and I lived together when we both taught school in Hazelton, BC. Our families have holidayed together, we've bounced and cooed over each other's babies and now we're sharing the joy of grandbabies.
These relationships make me think of the importance of friendships. As we age they are more important than ever and not to be taken for granted. In a BBC Health article Dr. Trisha Mcnaire says:
"Loneliness is unfortunately a common problem in older age, and a significant contributor to depression, as people lose their lifelong partners or become isolated when families move away. Many chronic diseases contribute to a decline in mobility which makes it harder for older people to get out of their homes and maintain contact and meaningful relationships with friends. Research suggests that at least one in ten of the elderly lead isolated and lonely lives, starved of emotional support as well as practical help."
The article goes on to list and discuss nine ways we can help ourselves and our aging friends and relatives to maintain good relationships. Read all of "Emotional and Physical Relationships in Older Age."
A few random thoughts:
1. It's wonderful to have friends move nearer, rather than farther away.
2. Facebook has been great in helping me and my husband reconnect with old friends.
3. School reunions (we had a high school reunion last summer) have both exciting and disappointing moments.
4. It takes intention and effort on both sides to keep old friendships alive.
5. Meeting with friends who are roughly our age and grew up where we did or shared a portion of our lives has its unique pleasures. There's a lot to be said for some common history.
6. The friendship situation only gets worse the older we get and our friends die or move away. That reality was brought home to my 91-year-old mom when, at her apartment, she was slowly surrounded by much younger strangers. It helped her make the decision to move to an assisted living facility (which we loved because it was closer to us).
Have your friendships changed as you age? How? How do you maintain old friendships—or do you?
"Old Friends" by Paul Simon/Art Garfunkel