Today I had lunch with a good friend of mine and her mother. She and I used to teach in the same elementary school. I retired almost four years ago; she retired almost a year ago. We were close friends as teachers and our friendship has lasted despite an 11-12 year old age difference.
I had texted her yesterday to ask if she were free today, and could we meet for lunch? She texted back: “My mother is with me.” I texted back: ‘No problem, I’d love to see her, too.”
One of our favorite topics has always been family matters, so I am pretty well informed about hers and she is about mine. We share some similar values like an old-fashioned upbringing and the importance of hard work. We’ve also shared some hard times: both her daughter and mine have a similar psychological disorder and I was able to help her a lot because my daughter is older. She and I have both had cancer…she’s had it twice…and we both had advanced cancers but we both survived.
I admire how she has taken on the burden of caring for her aging mother who at this point has dementia. Her Mom will ask the same question every minute or so, yet my friend will patiently answer her each time. She is devoted to her Mom, despite some difficult teen years. I, too, cared for my mother, also despite some very difficult teen years, when she developed metastasized breast cancer and began failing mentally. I know that one day, my friend’s daughter will take good care of her Mom because her mother has been such a good role model. I know that one day, my daughter will do the same.
I have seen my friend lose her beautiful black hair; unable to get off her recliner because she was so weak from chemo treatments; terrified that she would not live to take care of her two young children (who are now in their early to mid-twenties. She, in turn, has listened to my struggles with my daughter’s five open-heart surgeries and subsequent depression. She has supported me through my own bout with late-stage cancer three years ago, and I know she would do whatever she could for me if I needed her.
This is a true and rare friendship; one I hope never ends except for natural reasons like age. We laughed together today as she taught me how to use emoji’s on my relatively new Android phone. We glanced at each other a number of times as her mother repeated the same questions over and over to us. She smiled as I told her mother how pretty her hair looked today.
We’ve been through a lot together; we’ve also spent time apart. But I think we both know this friendship is special and will endure.