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Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 12:37 am

Lifelong friendships take joyous effort

Last night I called to wish an old friend in Arizona a happy birthday. We’ve been friends since the early years of grade school and, being the older by two weeks, I always enjoy calling to rub it that she is now just as old as I am. She always tells me to visualize how rudely she is sticking her tongue out at me as we speak.

Part of our birthday ritual is to reminisce about our friendship over the years. We pull out old memories, but perhaps more important, we share how much our friendship has meant to each of us over the decades.

While most are lucky to have one lifelong friend, I’ve been blessed with at least three. I’ve never had a serious “fight” with any of them, although all have different personalities. They bring a host of gifts and blessings into my life.

For instance, my friend Katie and I have been tight friends for 45 years. She’s lived in Boston for decades now, and while I miss having her close at hand, the thread that connects us remains as strong as it was when we were silly 20-somethings.

Katie and I talk often and our conversations always seem to pick right up where we left off. We’ve been together through good times and bad. We’ve shared our joys and sorrows, and we’ve always been each other’s greatest supporter. That kind of close friendship is born of decades of joyous effort that keeps us connected. We love to rehash memories that others have long gotten tired of hearing. We still think they’re funny.

Cultivating such a long-lasting friendship is the work of a lifetime and I have no doubt that the friends who make up my inner circle will be there always. They are an integral part of the tapestry of my life.

I asked people to try to put a finger on what makes these bonds so special.

What tells you that you have a friend who will last long into the future?

Joleen Martin: My friend Jen and I go back to kindergarten. While I’ve had many friends over the years, after a while, most seem to go in different directions. That’s never happened with Jen, even though our lives have taken different paths. I married and started a family; Jen moved to Austin, Texas, and began a career. It doesn’t matter. We text or talk every day and make the effort to see each other often throughout the year. Many young people today aren’t interested in putting that kind of effort into a friendship. They don’t work at it and then are surprised when the friendship falls apart.

Chris Sjoberg: Brian and I have been friends since we played football together in high school. For over 50 years now, we’ve been a presence for each other through both the good and the bad. That’s key – if you can be there for each other when things aren’t too fun.

Renae Gibbons, Gary: Tyra and I have been friends for over 30 years and I don’t see either of us going anywhere. We know each other’s weaknesses and faults and find them all both annoying and endearing. I love you, girlfriend!

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