Yikes! It’s that time of month! No, not that time, it’s my turn to post a blog. It’s March and for me that means the worst of winter is supposed to be behind me. Thank goodness! It’s been a cold winter and the heater in my old house had a problem. (There’s always a problem in this old house.) Somehow I managed the worst of low temperatures without a central heating system.
There was a time I had a husband who understood things like heating systems. He tended to know exactly what was wrong and what it took to fix things. Me? If I set the thermostat to sixty-five Fahrenheit and the house has cooled to fifty-nine, I only know that I’m cold. The truth is I don’t bother to study such stuff. I don’t care. I only want it to work. In a way, I’m lucky. I called the guy who installed the system about nine years ago, and he came out and fixed it. My heater has practically been rebuilt, and I wasn’t charged an arm and leg for it. He got paid an honest wage and he allowed me enough time to wiggle that money into my limited budget.
I’ve been more than lucky, and I know that. I’ve been blessed with wonderful friends. I’m not sure why, but over the years my life has been enriched by so many wonderful people. I’m not saying that life has been easy, because it hasn’t. But friends somehow make living easier. Friends have come and gone. We’ve lost touch over the years, moved away, or life changes have separated us. But all along the way, there have always been friends. The man who fixed my heating system is a friend. I know his wife, his children, and where he goes to church.
Last week, I took off to Pennsylvania to visit a friend and another friend went with me. While we were there, it snowed, and the world turned white. It was beautiful! My friend got to see an Amish horse and buggy. She was impressed. I was more excited to see the rainbow and where it touched the ground in the pasture. But being able to share that moment with two friends made it even more special. On the way home, we visited a restaurant in the Shenandoah Valley called The Chocolate Bar Restaurant. Really, who could resist stopping at a restaurant named The Chocolate Bar Restaurant? Not me! The food was delicious and the chocolate dessert was heavenly. We had a blast.
Maybe I look at the world differently. I see friends who supported over the years, the ones who stood by me when I married my husband (against my parent’s wishes), the ones who were there when I was losing my mother, the ones who shared coffee and tears when things were wrong, and the ones who comforted me when my husband died. Friends are there through thick and thin. They aren’t always the same ones, but they are still friends.
I helped a fellow author with a manuscript and she wanted to know how to repay me. I told her don’t, just pass it along. I learned that lesson early in life. It’s often impossible to repay someone, so we just pass it along and help another.
I can’t say what makes a friend a friend. I honestly don’t know. I’ve lived long enough to see friendships destroyed and I’ve been betrayed by friends. Being a friend is reciprocal. Friends are the people who make you smile when you need to be lifted up. Friends are the people who encourage you to follow your dreams. Friends celebrate your successes. Friends are there for you when you need help. And friends need you to be there for them.
We don’t go through life with catcher’s mitts on. If we’re lucky enough to catch the ball, we need to toss it back, or pass it along, and we need teach the next person how to grab it. Some people think that winning is everything. I’d say it’s how you play the game. If you don’t play, you lose and what fun is that? I’d much rather lose with a smile on my face than to fail because I never tired.
Without friends, what good would it have been to see a rainbow touch the ground? Would dinner and dessert in Winchester, VA been as much fun without a friend to share it? No.
Friends make it all worthwhile. Sharing a cup of coffee with a friend at Starbucks or a late night meal at IHOP is what makes life worth living. To Bob, Tamera, Denise, Mendie, Casey, Thomas, Jan, Marilyn and all those other wonderful people who fill my daily life and keep me going, to Steve, Curtis, David, and Ron who keep me grounded and support me, to all my UT friends, and especially to my fellow Authors of Main Street, I raise my cup of coffee and cheer our friendship.
Without friends, my life would be nothing more than a computer, two dogs, a cat, and grown children and two almost grown grandchildren who are living their own lives and forging their own paths. But as I look at the list of people who I have named, there are so many more than I didn’t. People like John who fixed my heater, and Rob who knows how I like my coffee. When we feel alone, we only need to look around us to discover the friendly faces that make our days a little nicer.
No one is ever totally alone. Remember when we were taught that some friendships are silver and the others are gold? It’s true, but there are also the ones that extend further out. A smile goes a long way. So smile more, laugh when you have the chance, and say hello. It just might make someone’s day, maybe your own! And when someone does a favor, pass it along.
Just like real life, friendships extend through my River City novels. Sometimes the bonds are tight and sometimes they aren’t. Dallas wasn’t a close friend when she helped Katie out, but Dallas knew what it was like to find herself without a place to stay. When she offered Katie a place to stay, she set the wheels in motion that would change Katie’s life forever.