Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Friendship Connection

When Whitney and her friend Mariah donned their balloon hat, it reminded me of how we are connected to our friends. Don the Balloon man’s hat-for-two gave the friends a different kind of connection at our Sedalia Memory Walk this year.

Friendship connections have evolved since my friend Sharon and I wrote notes in study hall. To keep our words private, we wrote them backwards and held them up to a mirror to read them. Now people email, text, Twitter, or use Facebook. Many of us have cell phones with nationwide plans and think nothing of calling someone across country to chat for a few minutes.

Not too long ago, I was riding with my daughter-in-law and my grandkids were texting each other—and they were both in the backseat. Of course, one advantage of text messaging is that siblings can have a disagreement without getting the parents involved.

I finally caved to the pressure and opened a Facebook account. It is a good way to stay updated on what is going on in my friends’ lives. I’m sure all friends on Facebook are not necessarily friends in the true sense of the word. Many of these “friends” are only casual acquaintances. A person is not a friend unless we care about what happens to them, we keep their confidences, and we overlook their faults. We support our friends and celebrate their successes without a twinge of envy.

When we meet people, we feel an immediate connection with some but not others. Our friends aren’t necessarily mirror images of ourselves. Sometimes we are drawn to others because they have a trait or skill we lack but admire.

I have been blessed with many friends. My involvement in my business women’s group, writers’ guild, work, and the Alzheimer’s Association brings me into contact with a lot of talented people. A combined effort to support a cause forges a lot of other personal differences to create a bond.

The Memory Walk took months of planning, organization, leg work and fortitude. My sister-in-law, Ginger Dollinger, and team coordinator, Sheila Ream, logged countless hours of preparation. All this effort birthed a fun Memory Walk with music, balloons, face painting, raffles, prizes, and a cake walk.

Friends pitch in and help you when you need it. That’s what Connie Pope did when she saw we needed help at Memory Walk. Cindy stopped to visit while I signed books, casually bagged them and handed them out with a smile. Brenda called to let me know she couldn’t be at the walk because she felt she needed to stay with her gravely ill husband. Sheila gave me a comforting hug as we released our balloons at the end of the walk. These are just a few of the contacts I made with friends at one event.

My favorite part of Memory Walk is spending a few hours with family and friends—hugs, smiles, and a lifting of spirits as we connect with each other. Weeks, months, and years disappear when I greet a friend after a separation.

We don’t need a balloon hat to physically connect us to our friends. A real friendship connection is not diminished by miles and time. It has no boundaries or limits and lives deep within our hearts.
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