Most of us value friendship. True friendship, that is. Throughout life, most of us will have only a few really close friends, especially “forever” friends. Do you agree?
What makes a friendship last? Is it true that “Threads of friendship never break”?
After you’ve read my story about “Judy Same”, I invite you to share with me and other readers your thoughts about what makes a friendship last. A comment section is provided at the end of this post.
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I have known “Judy Same” almost my whole life.
“Judy Same” is my oldest friend and one of my dearest friends. When we were growing up, in Rockhampton, she lived over the road from me, with her mother and brother.
My father, always a tease, nicknamed her “Judy Same”. “How are you, Judy Same?” he would say whenever she came over to our house to play. I’m not sure whether or not she liked her nickname, but she was always respectful, and giggled politely. Perhaps she liked the attention my father gave her.
A few weeks ago I told Judy that I was writing a story about her and our friendship and she surprised me by saying: “I still remember when we first met. I even remember what we were doing at the time. I was walking past your place, on my way to visit my aunt, carrying a duffle bag, and you were sitting on the front steps ‘reading’ a magazine.”
Along with Judy’s cousins and a couple of other neighbourhood children, not long after we met, I was invited to Judy’s 5th birthday party. I was 4.
When we were 7 or 8, we paired up in fancy dress as “Two Old World Ladies”. Fancy Dress Balls were popular social events then. We looked tremendous (at least we thought so) in our full-length Victorian-style dresses with silver-embroidered mauve netting over mauve satin petticoats, with matching bonnets and gloves. We each carried a fan and wore a black velvet choker. We won prizes at a number of fancy dress competitions in these costumes, which were made by Judy’s aunt.
Judy and I attended the same primary school, but we were never in the same class. Judy was in the year ahead of me. At school, we had different circles of friends. Outside of school, though, we had some common interests. We were members of the Brownies and later the Girl Guides. When I was in Year 11 and 12, we played hockey together, in the same team.
As time passed, we saw each other less frequently. Judy left school early and obtained a job locally. I completed Year 12 and moved to Brisbane, to further my studies at university.
In the meantime, Judy met Tony.
Judy and Tony courted for many years. One month before their wedding, I was at home in Rockhampton on holidays and attended Judy’s 21st birthday party. Unfortunately, I didn’t attend their wedding ceremony, even though I was invited. I was back in Brisbane. It was my final year of undergraduate studies, exams were looming and for this reason (and also because I could not afford it), I decided not return to Rockhampton for their wedding. For many years I regretted this decision.
The following year, at university, I met Tony!
“My Tony”, that is.
“My Tony” and I married 2 years later. Judy and “her Tony” attended our wedding ceremony, in Rockhampton, much to my delight.
So, how’s that? “Judy Same” and “Tony Same”? No, just joking. It’s “Judy and Tony” and “Judy and Tony”.
Introducing each other always goes a bit like this: “Meet our friends Judy and Tony.” People look at us strangely. We quickly add: “No kidding. We’re serious.” When we explain the situation, they always laugh.
It’s long been a source of much jesting and some confusion, even among the four of us. We usually speak of “my Tony” and “your Tony” and “my Judy” and “your Judy”. The truth is that our couple friendship includes lots of to-and-fro banter, puns, innuendo and jokes. This has added an extra dimension to the friendship Judy and I already shared.
Judy is one of the most artistic and creative persons I know.
About 17 years ago, when we were both living in Rockhampton, Judy introduced me to card-making. At the time Judy had been making handmade greeting cards for several years, and she cajoled me into taking up the craft. Now, like Judy, I always make my own greeting cards. Over the years I’ve learnt a number of papercraft techniques and gleaned lots of ideas from her. A few years ago Judy came to Brisbane to attend the annual Scrapbook and Papercraft Expo and I accompanied her to the exhibition. Now, that was an eye-opener for me!
I have kept every handmade birthday and Christmas card Judy has given me. It’s an inspiring collection. But Judy has given me other lovingly crafted items as well. My Christmas present in 2013 was a 12-page perpetual calendar, each page unique and intricately decorated by hand. Each of these items I possess is a reminder of all that is special about “Judy Same” and our long friendship.
Here are examples of the handmade birthday cards and Christmas cards Judy has given me over the years. Note that the first Christmas card dates from 1998!
One birthday, after I moved to Brisbane in 2003, Judy sent me one of her exquisitely crafted handmade cards in which she wrote, “To dear Judy. Have a wonderful birthday. With love from Tony and Judy.”
For another birthday Judy sent me the following handmade card, about friendship. It featured a poem entitled “Threads of friendship never break”. She didn’t compose the words – you can check out their source – but I knew they were sincere, and I was touched by this little token of our long friendship.
There’s no doubt: “Judy Same” and I are the best of friends.
But “Judy Same” and I are not the same, in spite of my father’s nickname for her and our more recent namesakes.
Judy and “her Tony” are motor sports enthusiasts; they have pursued and excelled at car rally driving. “My Tony” and I know nothing about motor sports. Hockey is our sport. Judy’s Tony is a competent mechanic; “my Tony” knows next to nothing about cars. Music is an integral part of my life; not so for Judy. I would describe Judy’s home décor style as “Arts and Crafts”; mine is more “Minimalist”. Judy loves dogs; I love cats. And so on.
One thing that always amazes me is that Judy has my birthday present and my Christmas present ready – and usually gives them to me – months in advance. When Judy and Tony visited us in Brisbane a few weeks ago (30 September 2015) she gave me my birthday present for 2016 and this year’s Christmas present! Now, anyone who knows me well will be aware that I am an organised person, but I am not that organised!
“Judy Same” and I are not the same.
We have some things in common, but there are also differences. Our personality types are different. Our life circumstances have been, and continue to be, dissimilar. We chose different work and career paths. We haven’t always lived nearby or even in the same city. Our faith journeys have been different.
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So, what makes a friendship last?
I have come to the following conclusions:
- You share a history. You have personal knowledge and share an important part (or parts) of each other’s life. You remember, value and celebrate your shared history, your common story. This leads to Point 2.
- You are authentic. There is no pretence. You are known by the other person for who you really are – no better, no worse. Whenever you meet, it’s like you’ve never been apart. You take up where you left off.
- You love and respect each other. You stand by that person, no matter what. You are like family. According to the Scriptures (Proverbs 18:24), “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
- You acknowledge the other person’s abilities, talents and passions and celebrate their achievements and successes. You are aware of their inadequacies and weaknesses, but you down-play them; you commiserate with your friend during times of disappointment and failure.
- You share important values. You acknowledge and nurture these shared values. Examples are: friendship itself, family (family traditions, family history, family bonds), creativity (the God-given gift of imagining, designing and crafting beautiful objects).
- You show a genuine interest in the other person’s passions and activities. You learn from each other. You identify and nurture your common interests.
- You share laughter and tears. You share each other’s joys and sorrows. You have fun together. You relax in each other’s company. It’s a therapeutic relationship.
- You maintain contact, despite distance and the passing of time. You remember each other’s birthday. You share each other’s milestone celebrations.
Here’s some timeless advice Polonius gave his adult son Laertes, in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act I Scene III. These words are part of a longer speech by Polonius about how to find true friends and keep them.
“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel. … This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
So, what do you think makes a friendship last? I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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May 18, 2016
Recently I celebrated my birthday. Judy gave me another beautifully handcrafted birthday card along with a gift of a hand towel and washer and a little plaque featuring a “Thinking of You” poem. This little plaque is further evidence for the friendship we share. The poem begins with the words: “When I think of you I sometimes feel sad…” You can read the rest of the poem – I have included a copy of it below.
Do you recall that Judy left my birthday card and gift here when she visited in September 2015 (8 months ago)? Not surprisingly, I carefully stowed the parcel in a cupboard. The problem is that I didn’t remember it was there until a couple of days after my birthday. Shame on me.
Even though I don’t want to, I will have to tell Judy!