It was International Friendship Day yesterday, so it was  a day for me to reflect on the importance of my friends  in my life and to be grateful for them all. I am very fortunate to have five best friends , one for each significant stage of my life. But where I am very lucky is that I am still close to my childhood and University best friends, through letters and emails, even though we do not see each other often enough. But it is true what they say, even though we rarely see each other,when we do, we pick up where we left off and still have lots to say. For example, when I went to Texas a few years ago to stay with my first best friend, we both got up early and sat drinking tea chatting away as if none of the intervening years, since we were five, had happened.

But I am delighted that best friends 4 and 5 live pretty locally so I can see much more of them. I think the secret to our friendships are not that we are similar in personalities, as in many ways we are very different, but we still share many of the same values : family matters, kindness and honesty are important to us all and we can all talk loads but listen well too.

It is not just my best friends that I am thankful for, but also the wide circle of friends that I have made along the way. In particular, I have made good friends with several of the Mums at Joshua’s special schools as we have an automatic bond through our shared parenting experience. We support each other when we are having tough times with our children and several have been kind and supportive since Mum was ill. I used to think that the monthly parent Coffee Mornings were for me to support other parents and to encourage more links and friendships, but more recently I have come to appreciate the friendships for me too, which of course is what it is all about: the most successful, long lasting friendships in my life are two -way streets, those where one party makes all the effort tend not to last I have found as resentment eventually sets in and the relationship is not sustained.

I  used to think that it was harder to make new friends when you were older, as you have so many more opportunities when you are young. But Mum proved that was not the case, as she found a ‘gang’ of ladies who she loved and socialised with, after Dad died. In the final five years of her life, she had a better social life than she had ever had with meals out, music concerts and trips to the cinema being a weekly occurrence. Prior to that, she had her three sisters as friends when she was growing up and then she had Dad and her family to keep her busy after university. But she maintained college friendships for 60 years+,and work colleagues once she retired, which is quite an achievement and her funeral showed just how many friends she had. So perhaps I learned my ‘keeping in touch’ skill from Mum. And I too have found that even in my 50s that I am still making new friends and I appreciate their value in my life.

So a day late, I say thank you to all of my special friends, both the new and the old ones.

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