I was thinking this week about how lucky I am to have the parents I have. They're wonderful examples in so many ways. They're terrific parents, doting grandparents, loving spouses (for nearly 50 years!), and generous contributors to their community. But what I've been thinking about most is what caring and loyal friends they are. For them, it's never too much effort to make a new friend, too late to get back in touch with someone they once knew, too far to go to attend an important celebration, or too difficult to offer help and support to a friend in need. In short, they've taught my siblings and me that it's important to value friendships and invest the time and energy needed to nurture them.
They've also taught us that friends don't have to be perfect to be worth the time and effort. Like all other relationships, friendships have their ups and downs, so it's important to take a long-term view, forgive the things that can be forgiven and look for the best in the people we care about.
My siblings have learned those lessons well. All of them nurture close friendships with a wide variety of people - which often astounds me given how busy they are with work and family. But, like my parents, they clearly believe friendships are worth the time and energy, and they're teaching their (very many) children those same lessons.
I wish I could honestly say I've been as diligent about maintaining my friendships but the truth is I've let friends drift from my life more often than I care to admit. Still, looking around me recently, I realized I'd somehow managed to accumulate very many close friends over the years - from all the different places I've lived and all the different phases of my life. They range in age from 9 to 80-something, come from all walks of life and live all over the world. We keep in touch via email, Facebook, telephone and plain old "snail mail", and we're there for each other as and when needed - offering laughter, love, encouragement, comfort and support. The joy I feel at being able to "pick up with where I left off " with them - whether a week, a month, or 20 years ago - is a gift for which I am especially grateful.
So - here's to Mum and Dad for being such good teachers, to my siblings for being such wonderful students (and teachers!), and to my patient and generous friends for putting up with me. In case I don't tell you often enough, I love and appreciate you all very very much.