Yesterday I said goodbye to a very dear friend. I only found out recently that she was 84. Of course I knew she was in her later years, but her mid 80s? I’d never have guessed. She was such a youthful lady with a very young heart. Her daughter told me recently that she still shaved her legs. It didn’t surprise me.
The almost 50-year age gap just didn’t seem to matter. I hardly noticed it. And meeting all her friends and family yesterday at the funeral, it was obvious that I wasn’t the only 30-something or even 10-something who’d laughed and loved and gossiped with her. How can someone cross generations so effortlessly?
To me, good friends are both interesting and interested. The former seems obvious – we all like someone who is fun, can share a good story, and throw out a thought-provoking opinion, but to me it’s more than that. It’s someone that will give instinctively of themselves – who isn’t afraid to be open, to share not only the things that make them look good, but those that make them look weak, vulnerable, foolish even. I love people who are honest almost to a fault – not with malice or judgement towards other people – but about themselves.
Likewise, a person may be witty and intelligent and make you roar with laughter but if they’re not prepared to listen, a camaraderie will soon fall short of a friendship. And finding someone who can really listen, who is genuinely interested in what you have to say because they value you, and like you, and are interested in the world, is something different. Above everything else my friend was always willing to listen, always wanted to know what you were up to and what you thought and how you felt. She was genuinely interested in other people and she made them feel important.
And if you have all those friendship ingredients? Age doesn’t matter – it simply gives you better stories to tell.
Marjory was my dad’s partner for the last years of his life and I will always owe her a debt of gratitude for the selfless care she took of him when he needed her most, and when he was incapable of giving much back. But after he died our friendship didn’t endure because of the connection to my dad, nor from any sense of debt I felt to her; we remained friends simply because I really really liked her.
We miss you Marjory. Good friends don’t come along every day. xx