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Blogs [1]: Friendship Circles by Alice Faeth - May 2012 [2]

Posted by Josephine on Feb 08, 2013 - 03:49 PM

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Mark Twain’s observation can’t be improved upon: “Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last a whole lifetime.”

It has for me with friends I’ve known for over seven decades. I’m grateful for these and also for a few friends made this last decade due to their qualities and strong characters.

    When younger we might have met at the tennis court for a game after work. Now a common interest like a book discussion group finds us gathering monthly. Over food provided by rotating hostesses, we talk about a book, those that are popular like THE HELP, others of interest that are harder reading.

    With a busy younger friend, I enjoy a current movie or go to a free, daytime movie at a library Having lunch with a friend or several is a special event since most of us live alone and have solitary meals at home.

    A highly challenging class called “Writing the Memoirs of Your Life” meets half a dozen times in the spring and fall. Our teacher has published and gently critiques our essays, offering expert advice... Our membership after over more than five years has shrunk. We’ve learned a lot about each other, our lives and families.

    Without Penny our group would not exist. She opened her home offering a place to meet and a welcome unique to her warm personality. I remember when she pushed her walker into the room furnished by a hospital which initially offered the Writing Memoirs class. Penny informed the group that she had no writing skills. Little did she imagine the talent she possessed for telling fascinating stories about her extended family: from her parents who immigrated to America from Greece as young adults, raised three daughters and two sons; to her musical husband, his parents, and their two gifted daughters whose children and grandchildren prize their loving matriarch – Penny. Soon her stories will be privately published in limited edition for all living descendants. Bravo! Penny.

    Then there is our musical member, Helene. While holding down a bank job, she joined a chorus, appeared in many venues and took lead roles in plays. She also sang in a church choir and still does. Helene’s writing is imaginative, whimsical and gentle, often about a succession of pets which have enlivened her daily life. As we listen, her animal companions come alive for us. Helene is active in a small Methodist Church with a big heart. Twice a week finds Helene working in their food pantry. A choir rehearsal is on a weekday evening and there is a Sunday service. She amazes us.

    Our youngest member is diligently writing her first book on a subject close to her heart: grieving a close friend when her family does not include you in the mourning. Through Vicki’s writing, we have learned what a compassionate person she is. Married with a daughter about to leave in the fall for New York City and a college where her theatrical training will begin. Vicki is seeing her teenager follow in her footsteps. She’s also generous in bringing treats to help Penny spoil us.

    Our teacher, Jo, a mother of eight adult children, became a 1970s feminist and has held down several leadership roles that help elderly people. She was one of the department heads at the Chicago Department on Aging and also volunteered with Mather Lifeways, an organization which helps seniors aging in place besides having excellent retirement communities.

    All of these friends have experienced illness and accidents that less determined people might not have survived. I salute the qualities that make them so special. They are wise and kind, and I’m glad o be their friend.

Alice Faeth - May 2012

P.S.     I realize I neglected to mention myself, Alice, Jo’s fourth student. Over the years I have returned to the class spring and fall. The subjects I’ve written about have been varied: all over the place, some more personal than others. I’ve not been consistent as my friends are. Writing helps me focus. The times the edited product is an improvement over the first draft are rewarding. After a couple of flops, only Jo’s encouragement makes me persist. I like the warm-up exercise which Jo springs on us as class starts. We write furiously in the brief time allowed. Creativity takes over and writing becomes pure joy.



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