The Bounty of Friendship

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Mary Anne Zak

Mary Anne Zak

 A vintage campfire song suggested, “Make new friends and keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” Sung as a round, its simple harmony charmed.

More beguiling than ever, the little song still blends years, friends, and life in harmony. Or more precisely, into harmonies. As we observe important holidays, Hanukkah and the Twelve Days of Christmas, traditional and hi-tech greetings connect us across miles and continents. Old photos and mementos spanned memorable lifetimes.

 My oldest friend and I stand on a Virginia beach. Each of us holds a small shovel and pail in one hand and each other’s hand in the other. Squinting into the sun under protective hats, we were three or four years old; no child-size sunglasses in those days? Miles apart these years, lifetime friends celebrate birthdays and anniversaries by phone.

 On the wall over my desk is a framed doll quilt.

Made by my surrogate grandmother and aunt, the 20” by 16” quilt preserves hexagonal memories of dear neighbors patching, stitching and mending their way through the Depression. Small hand stiches, many invisible, increasingly endear my friends’ labor of love.

 Through precious years of childhood, youth, college, teaching, marriage, family, family, family and friends, friends, friends, life has been giving invaluable gifts of friends.

 Newest are friends at Suffield by the River. Younger ones are the warm-hearted and caring housekeeping, maintenance and wait staffs and their dedicated administrators. Other new friends are senior seniors. Dear Bob Hamel just celebrated another three-digit birthday.

Borrowing lingo from younger generations, we enjoy playdates. PLAYDATES!? Aren’t we too old to play?

In our less wise and well-informed earlier years we may have thought so, but now we know better! Many of us still love to dance, delighting when we gleefully take to the dance floor and when our younger friends join us. We do a lively production of Y.M.C.A.

Schedules we post on our scooters (formerly called walkers) keep us on time for breakfast, chair aerobics, bridge and bingo. And on through the day: Wii bowling, pokeno, current events, films of worldwide travel and of ancient Aztec, Roman, and Greek engineering; and of treks into the jungle, desert, North and South Poles, and high Himalayas. Other card games and team trivia keep us laughing, or not, and inviting menus energize our days.

Longest lived among friends here is the river. When the Connecticut entered my life in 1947, it was love at first sight. Blessed since then to have lived near the center of Suffield, near the town’s western bounds and now at its eastern border, I’m nurtured each day by the river. Its rapids yield to serene flow and peaceful acres. Their spirits gather at the river and bless.

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