Here’s to Friends

December 31, 2012

Last night Alice told me that she ought to try going downstairs again to do some laundry. She hasn’t attempted the journey to the laundry room for a couple of years. The strange machines with their demands for coins proved daunting. Either I do her laundry for her or the people at The Place do it.

I reminded her that the laundry room is not downstairs; it’s on the same floor she’s on. This brought to mind her recently departed new friend, Linnea, who moved from her spot at Alice’s table in the dining room all the way across town to be nearer to her daughter.

“Linnea believed the kitchen was in the basement,” she said. “I never corrected her, but there is no basement.”

Their friendship was just getting off the ground when the move happened. Still, Alice holds onto it by now and then bringing up something Linnea said or did.

At this point in life, almost all of our longer conversations are sprinkled with remembrances of people who are either dead or far away. She has living friends she knows she’ll never see again because they are so frail that travel is out of the question. Conversations on the phone are difficult, even with the fancy captioning telephone, because of her hearing. But when we talk, up pop the names of friends—from grade school, high school and beyond.

Sometimes Alice scans the crowd at The Place for potential new connections. She’s careful. She wants something durable, interesting, fun. If she can’t have those things, she’s content to have nothing.

Below is the traditional New Year’s Eve song by the Scottish folk group The Cast. If all you’ve heard lately is the popular Mariah Carey version, do listen to this one. It’s pure and beautiful. The lyrics are the original poem attributed to Robert Burns, which he reportedly wrote down in the 1780s when a Scottish elder recited an ancient poem about remembering old friends.

I just read that the Scots sing it year round, feeling there’s never a bad time to remember the friendships that sustain us. If I’d known this, I might have tried singing it (whether she wanted to listen or not) to my dear friend Claudia, who turned 70 a few days ago. We’ve known each other since we were in our early 20s. She has been my teacher, my guide, my lodestar, and the voice in my head in the middle of the night (whether I wanted to listen or not) that tells me I’m not living my life quite right, there’s room for improvement.

Andrea and Claudia many moons ago.

Andrea and Claudia many moons ago.

Tonight Alice and I will raise a cup of kindness to Claudia, to long-time dear companions hither and yon, and to all of you who come to visit this blog, you trusty fieres, you!

And a few light years away at the Filmore:

And finally, here’s Guy Lombardo. Alice and Roger danced to this every New Year’s Eve for many decades.

Happy New Year!

Robert Burns – Original Scots verse:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

English translation:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?
CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

14 Responses to “Here’s to Friends”


  1. And tonight I’ll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne… and you and Alice.

  2. Janina Says:

    There can never be enough tributes to longtime friends! Hurray for Alice’s continuing remembrances of important folks from her past, both distant and recent, and hurray to Andrea, and to Claudia, for the joy and permanence of your own friendship. It’s a treat to share the wealth!

  3. Holly Says:

    Andrea, thanks for the gift of this blog. Wishing you and Alice all the best for 2013.

    P.S. The moons have been good to you and Claudia. That is one cute photo, but live and in person today, you two are magnificent.


  4. so thankful for friendships this year past and for the year ahead…

  5. Connie Says:

    And a cup of kindness and happy new year wishes back at you. As usual, I’m astonished at what you come up with – the picture of you before I knew you is just wonderful! I’m so glad I know you now!

  6. Cheryl Says:

    There is always a take away or two or more from your posts. This one:
    “She wants something durable, interesting, fun. If she can’t have those things, she’s content to have nothing.”
    and:
    “…there’s never a bad time to remember the friendships that sustain us.”

    Amen to all that!

  7. Thalia Says:

    Happy New Year to Andrea, to Alice, and to all the wise women (and men) we are lucky enough to count among our friends! Thanks, especially, Andrea, for the sage lessons shared through this blog.


  8. putting it quite simply–Andrea, my darling treasured friend–as we enter yet another year, I adore you. Claudia

  9. Anne Showalter Says:

    Thank you for this tribute to friends. Claudia is our connection and I am thankful for both of you.

  10. Elizabeth Says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes — I’m so grateful that I’ve “met” you and Alice and read your many posts. “The Cast” rendition of that famous song is so beautiful — and the Jimi Hendrix, perfection. Thank you, Andrea. May you have a peaceful year ahead, filled with love, health and blessings.

  11. Bob Hazen Says:

    It’s a little surrealistic, sitting here in Mexico and imagining you and Claudia staring out together and perhaps listening to Jimi Hendrix perform Auld L.S. – Happy Happy New Year!!!


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