‘A friend in need is a friend indeed – or ‘a friend in need is a damn nuisance’ … take your pick, but a person who doesn’t have a friend in the world is the poorest of the poor.
I was at the wedding of the son of close friends a few years ago and in his speech, the father of the groom gave the newlyweds this heartfelt advice. He told them that the most important lesson he had learned from life was the value of friends and his number one message was to cultivate and cherish friends.
There are different tiers of friendship. If we have two, or even one ‘best friend’ we are blessed. Then again, if we are lucky, we will have a handful of close friends, whose company we enjoy, and more importantly, in whose company we are totally at ease, for long or short periods alike. Next we should have a ring of acquaintances with whom we get on really well and then a wider circle of people we like to say ‘Hola’ to, or chat when we meet from time to time. All of the above we call ‘our friends.’
A Northern Ireland man bought a farm up the road a few years back and after a few days when a neighbor called to welcome the newcomer to the locality, he was asked; ‘What are the rest of the neighbours like around here? ‘What were they like where you lived last?’ answered the local man. ‘OH they were an awful shower, you couldn’t get on with any of them – that is why I moved down here.’ ‘I’m afraid you will find them exactly the same round here’, offered the native. The point made, that in order to have friends, you must be a friend.
Being a friend carries a responsibility. The first criteria is loyalty. A two-faced is friend is much worse than no friend. Honesty is a must, but maybe not brutally honest all of the time! Sincerity, dependability and openness are also required. You must be sociable; there isn’t much point in being friends if you cannot socialise ¬– but always remember your friends are not clones of you and they will do many things differently. The difference in people is what makes for great entertainment when friends socialise.
You should be a good listener. We have two ears and only one mouth. The person who has to talk all the time is not popular in company.
Yes, you have to be confessor, counselor, helper, comrade and above all, be able to keep a secret. You must offer interest, enthusiasm and drive.
This is what you have to do so. What do you get in return? Well, in a perfect world, the same. This is not a perfect world! If your friend fails to live up to your expectations, you must still carry on being their friend, being forgiving and supportive. But the most important part of being a friend is just being there. One way I judge a friend is whether or not I can go see them, or walk into their house, without having to give a reason for being there.
A friend should be there when you are going through ‘the grinder’ and not just for the happy days. At times of trouble and stress, be it in the middle of the night with endless cups of tea – that is when you value that friend most. You will tell your friend not to worry when you are sick with worry yourself and together you pull through. You will be there when other friends didn’t turn up and when you would rather be some where else.”This too shall pass” you tell him or her- and so it shall.
A friend will make you laugh, even when you are down in the dumps. Once I was asked in a newspaper interview; ‘what quality did I admire most in people’? Without hesitation I answered; ‘the ability to make me laugh’. Friends make us laugh.
Don’t tell somebody you are their friend if you are not. Remember what I said about it being a tremendous responsibility. I knew a man who addressed everybody as ‘my friend’. A more two-faced, bad-mouthing man you would not find!
Before Covid put the brakes on our mad rush forward, it seems harder and harder to find time for our friends. We are always ‘going to do it.’ ‘Tempus fugit’ and a friend passes on here and there while others are filed away in memory or nostalgia. Would that friend like to hear from you now? To-day? Now when we have the time …do it! Write that letter or pick up the phone before this day ends. You will make two people happy. A friend is worth their weight in gold and old friends are best!