Aging and Emotional Health: Relationships Matter

May 21st, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

How many family and friends are left in your circle?  Are you old enough that you can discard them easily?  Do you work at trying to maintain and sustain the friendships you have cultivated during your life?  No matter where you are on life’s longevity scale, keeping your friends, some of whom are related, is a very important undertaking.  They have given you more than likely you realize.  They mean more than you have calculated.  They are the treasures of life whose intrinsic value is predicated on how they share their love, how they are there for and with you at critical times.

My mother is now 90.  She is my friend, one of my lifetime treasured friends, whom I know will always be there for me.  There is no way to replace such a friend.  There are others, but this is the ultimate example of friendship, a person who knew you before you were.  She is the one who nursed you through illness, who listened to the adolescent struggles of growing up.  She is the one who still loves you now in spite of all your stupid mistakes.

My wife, having not known me for quite so long, is like that too.  She listens.  She counsels, she cajoles, she advises, she loves me anyway.  She helped to raise our son.  She brought us a daughter.  She is the source of stability and insight and serenity.  She is the part of  friendship that will last beyond my being.  I know that.  We know that and it is that that gives us the joy of our relationship and the resilience to make it through the tough times.  If I could or had to choose between my Mom or my Wife, I couldn’t do that.  They are essential, irreplaceable components of my life’s being.

There are friends beyond these two, of course.  Some are related.  Some I have just known most of my life.  Some have only become a part of the circle over the last number of years.  They know their value, even though we may do little to cultivate on a daily or seasonal basis our relationship.  Folk like that don’t get a ranking.  They just are.  They earned their friendship over good  times and bad and the camaraderie has just grown into a well nurtured plant that provides pleasure all year, every year.

The commitment silently and solemnly made is to remain friends the rest of our lives.  To do that may take a little initiative, but my guess is that returning to a friend, whether relative or ordinary, can happen almost spontaneously and will be reciprocated almost simultaneously.  Once a friend, always a friend.  Once having had deep and abiding feelings for someone with whom one or another of life’s deep water experiences has occurred, it will be renewed readily and meaningfully.

By all means, keep your friends.  Life’s fleeting moments steal too many things from us that we don’t need to help it lose what is really valuable and precious.

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