Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Friendship (Part 1)

While I intended to write about my new book today, I've decided to post about friendship instead. As I approach Thanksgiving this year, I would like to discuss the importance of friendship. As you all know, my mother died on October 26. Her lengthly decline and subsequent death was very sad--for a number of reasons.

Losing a parent you love is always heartbreaking. But I know that one of the things that disturbed me most during the final years of my mother's life was how many of her friends deserted her--during her decline. And it was truly unfathomable to me.

A few days ago, one of my mother's closest friends (for so many years) called and left the following message on my answering machine. "Susan, I heard your mother died. Well, I've been out of town and out of touch, but you've been out of touch too. I've heard there is going to be a memorial service but I don't know when it will be. Could you call me and let me know?"

When I listened to the message, at first I was just angry and then I was sad. It was perhaps one of the least sensitive messages I've ever heard. The memorial service had come and gone. Yes, I had been out of touch, but to be quite honest, I was sick and tired of my mother's friend calling to ask me where she was living (this woman doesn't have a memory problem) and then giving me all the reasons why she couldn't visit.

At first, I had returned her telephone calls. Later, I didn't. In my defense, I knew she could always call my sister. Also, she was friends with other friends of my mother's. But I lost patience when I realized that these calls were "bullsh*t."

If my mother's friend was interested in seeing her, she would have. She was my mother's only close friend who didn't visit once in the two years mother was at the assisted living facility. Why was that?

I wondered how she defined friendship. Was her view of it so shallow that she didn't realize that one loves one's friends "in sickness and in health?" Why would she think that now that my mother is dead, I have any interest in talking to her--ever again?

My anger and passion about the topic of friendship made me realize that I needed to begin researching it further. Stay tuned!

(to be continued)

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