On being a friend

I used to have a little saying on my refrigerator that said, “To have a friend, be one.” It was a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose grave I visited yesterday. At my side was my best friend of nearly 55 years, Eileen.  Thus inspired today’s ditty!

  • Be kind. You might think this is a no-brainer, right? But if you are really comfortable around each other, you might not be as nice as you would to, say, a stranger. So, hold that door. Pay that compliment. Pick up the tab.
  • Take care of yourself. We all need a little TLC from time to time, but try not to make a habit of it. Most of us have someone to take care of, like kids, elderly parents or an ailing partner. Spending time with a friend should be an escape from responsibility. If you’re always needy, things will become one-sided and that’s just not fair. 
  • Check your jealousy. Be genuinely happy for your friend’s success, whether it’s financial freedom, wearing a size 6, remodeling her house or having the most doting husband. Don’t compare or ask yourself, “why can’t I have that?” It’s not about you.
  • Be there. Stop saying, “we should get together.” Do it.
  • Show interest in her family, job, grandkids. Don’t hog all the bragging rights. If she doesn’t offer, ask questions!
  • Be there for the hard part, not only the good. Pitch in, without being asked, when your friend experiences a rough patch.
  • Celebrate your differences as well as your similarities. Common interests or traits might have brought you together, but you’ll discover variations on some points. Respect her views and interests. Share yours (but don’t be pushy).
  • Be yourself. Be honest and genuine. Trust her to accept you as you are and do the same for her.


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