TRUE FRIENDSHIP

This topic has always been close to my heart. I consider myself very blessed to have the number of true friends I have. As I write now I am reminded of David and Jonathan’s great friendship in the Bible. They made a sacred promise to each other: to be loyal to each other and if either of them died, the surviving one was to extend the same loyalty to the other’s family. In Greek Mythology, two best friends from Sicily: Pythias and Damon demonstrated the same loyalty to one another. While visiting Syracuse, Pythias talked badly about the king and was arrested then condemned to death. He asked to be allowed to go home and bid farewell to his family then return to be killed. Damon offered to stay in prison for him until Pythias returned. Pythias took long to come back but Damon was sure that he would return out of their strong bond of friendship. Just as Damon was being led out to be killed, his exhausted friend rushed in to take his place. It surprised and impressed the king so much that he spared Pythias’ life and went on to keep both men at his court as advisors.
Friendship is about loyalty, affection, honesty, mutual respect and trust.

In the late 80s, I remember watching the film entitled Lace based on a fiction novel by the British writer Shirley Conran . Four well- to- do girls attending a finishing school in the Swiss Alps became best friends. They did most of the things together and mastered the art of covering for each other. They did it so well that when one of them fell pregnant and later delivered the baby; you could not tell who among them was the mother. Their mantra was: “Through thick and thin.” The French girl had difficulty in pronouncing this so for her it became: Through Sick and sin!’’
There are two best friends that I have known since childhood now well into their eighties. Whenever you see the first one, the second one is just round the corner. Sadly the youngest died last October leaving the older one totally lost. Whenever I meet her at a function she tells me that her best friend is not replaceable and that she feels as if a part of her missing.

My best friend and I have been each other’s best friend since we were thirteen years old! We were attending a missionary primary boarding school. We are now grandparents. We have nurtured each other and created situations that have helped us to grow and develop. Each one feels valued and cared for. This has enabled us to nurture relationship with others. Over the years, we have become accepting of each other without fearing to be swallowed up by the other. We have learned from each other to give without expecting anything back and when it comes; then each one opens her heart to receive from the other. We have guided, comforted and supported one another through thick and thin.
We have similar backgrounds, similar principles and values. We have many unwritten laws between us about money, dating, punctuality, and parenthood. At our age, we have come to a point where each one can anticipate the other’s need and sometimes the answer. When our last headmistress retired to the United Kingdom, she would use either address to send us her annual Christmas message to all old girls of the school. She told me that she was sure that whoever received the two, would gladly deliver to the other friend!

The bond we have has always awakened a healthy sense of loving and caring and has helped each one to recognize and develop her talents and abilities. It has given us the confidence and strength to go out to do and give more to others.
My best friend knows me more than myself and has remained the ‘constant’ in the equation of my life. Her family and friends became mine and mine became hers. Each one of us feels safe and at home with the other. She is one person I know for sure who wishes others achievements, great abundance and freedom. Like all survivors, we have both extremes of the same traits. Depending on the situation, we can choose to be terribly serious or terribly funny. We have been able to get away with a number of things.

It has not been plain sailing, there  are times when we have bruised and neglected each other. We have taken this in our stride by comforting and supporting one another to learn from the mistakes and grow.
We have lived through decades of civil strife in our country but amazingly, we have learned and grown from the many challenges and problems that we have had to face together and as individuals. Each one of us learned early on to love and nurture, respect herself before reaching out to nurture the family and the community. We have always set limits and boundaries first to protect one’s self and then the two of us.
A mountain of well-kept photographs keeps the cherished moments of our friendship of over fifty years, close. We have photographs of the two of us together on confirmation day, graduations, weddings, births and baptisms of our children and their graduations and weddings.

She has enriched my life beyond words while I tried the best I could too. She has never been too busy to help me; she has inspired me to go out and do more and give more. When we choose to give we give fully and completely so we find it easy to say no if we know we cannot give of our best.
We shall continue to nurture, support and inspire one another while at the same time thanking God for this fulfilling, lasting relationship that has shaped our characters.
Some quotes about genuine friendship:

“Friendship is always a responsibility, never an opportunity.’’ Khalil Gibran
“ A perfect white, round and smooth pearl is a rare find. Whoever finds it is made very happy.” Jane Nannono

Thank you for visiting my Blog. I would like to hear about your experiences of true friendship.  Feel free to share this post so as to encourage others to cultivate and nurture true friendships.

 

Parent-Child Friendship

Two days ago, I travelled about one hundred and forty Kilometers southwest of the capital, Kampala, to attend the funeral of the mother of one my friends. I made the effort to be there for him for I have experienced the pain and heartache of losing a parent. My friend had to travel from New York where he has lived and worked for forty years. Thankfully, he and his wife were last here to check on the mother in November last year. I shudder to imagine him receiving that crushing call announcing her death. He must have felt too devastated to think clearly and that journey must have grown longer than it normally is.

As his friends gathered for the funeral, I could not help but remember my best friend’s kindest gesture at my father’s funeral. She arranged to bring a tailor at our home to take our measurements for the traditional attires that the female family members were to wear at the funeral. The tailor also came with some samples of the materials stocked in her shop. My best friend never asked me-she just did it and it touched our hearts immensely.

I watched the friend from New York go through the journey of burying a parent and as tribute after tribute sang of his mother’s great love, affection, nurturing, kindness and commitment, I was once again reminded of my father’s funeral some years back. He was a good friend to me. I was happy to note that like my father, my friend’s mother had enjoyed responsible friendship with his son and other children. She had loved her children unconditionally, valued and cared for them. They all felt safe and at home under her care. As a responsible friend, she had ensured that she did not maim them. She loved and respected herself first then went out to do the same for her own children and all the children she taught as a trained teacher of her time. She set limits and boundaries to all of them; thus empowering them to be self-sufficient. By the time she died, my friend and his siblings were functioning well on their own.

She never lost herself as she met their needs since she had also set limits and boundaries on her own side and guarded them jealously. Like all good mothers who give without maiming and give without burning themselves out, she died radically thankful and celebrating her whole life. I have no doubt that her last prayer was: not ‘please’ but ‘thank you’ just like a guest thanks his host at the door.

My favourite author Kahlil Gibran(1883-1931), the Lebanese born American writer and philosopher distilled the significance of a mother down to this quote:
“The mother is everything – she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness. He who loses a mother loses a pure soul who blesses and guards him constantly.”
Sam, your mother was all this and much more. You will be able to move forward standing on what she left in you but not what she left for you. When everyone goes home and you are left alone in your thoughts, you will remember your mother as a blessing. She lives on in you and in all those who passed through her hands.
May God rest her soul in eternal peace.

 

Pointers Along The Path

At the end of each year, we stop and process the year to prepare ourselves to face new experiences. By now, each one of us has set realistic goals and has started on the process of achieving them.
Well aware that we are Works in progress and that Rome was not built in a day, each one of us requires a lot of determination, commitment and courage to achieve the set goals.
Over the years, I have come to understand that focusing on doing a few things right every day will keep me on the right path of achieving my big goals. We create what we focus on and what we focus on grows.
Among the things I do consistently are:
• Decluttering- I need to declutter my home, work space and life itself. I have to get rid of what does not serve me anymore. Clutter distracts me and weighs me down while decluttering helps me to be neat and organized and helps to create space in the mind. At the work place, I have to declutter my desk regularly to create order. Less clutter enables me to focus and be more productive. In today’s digital world, we receive a lot of unnecessary information on both our computers and telephones and the essential information has to be organized into some files. This information clutter demands that I declutter both the computer and telephone more often. Having too much stuff, too much information or too much to do can cause stress.
• Time management
Time is a limited resource and has to be managed effectively. The most successful among us have acquired the best time management skills. They have control of their time and therefore are able to focus and be more productive. They do not rush through things so they tend to make good decisions and even save themselves time to relax and unwind. Their good time management skills teach them self-discipline in other areas of their lives.
• Being real
You begin by being honest with yourself and then extend it to others. Being honest with yourself helps you build the confidence you need to win in life. You can easily admit when you need help from others. Humbling yourself to ask for help is essential for your growth and maturity. Being honest with others is key to being trusted by them and in building strong, lasting relationships.
• Keeping Healthy
Knowing very well that I need to be healthy to express the full range of my unique potential within the environment I live, I take responsibility for my own health and teach others to do the same.
I make informed healthy choices every day to maintain a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. Adopting a way of life that lowers the risk of being seriously ill or dying early requires me to make small changes that ensure that I maintain a healthy weight, eat healthy meals, exercises regularly and visit my doctor and dentist for regular checkups.
This quote by Denis Waitley reminds all of us the importance of health and time in our lives: “Time and health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they are depleted.’’
• Maintaining an attitude of gratitude
I have to start by appreciating what I have and making the most of it for my own good and for the good of others. In this fast-paced world, I have to stop and take time to find joy in what I have accomplished. I have to give thanks for the small successes or wins which finally add up to my big vision.
When growing up, I used to take things for granted but as I grew older, I understood that many other people contributed to what I became. They did so by doing small things that made my life easy and many of them continue to do so to this day. I needed to show my thoughtful and heartfelt gratitude to them consistently and frequently. This has helped me to maintain a good relationship with family and friends and to acknowledge their role in the achievement of my big goals and personal growth.
An attitude of gratitude warms the heart of the giver and receiver and makes us better people.
Getting the above five things done right gives me the confidence,energy and discipline to follow my big goals through and finally make my vision happen.
Mark Gorman’s quote emphasizes the importance of having a vision in life: “Not all dreamers are winners but all winners are dreamers. Your dream is the key to your future. The Bible says that “ without a vision(dream) a people perish.’’ You need a dream, if you’re going to succeed in anything you do.
So keep dreaming big and working relentlessly towards making it a reality.

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