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.
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?
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
We twa hae run about the braes,
We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
|Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
We two have run about the slopes,
We two have paddled in the stream,
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!