On Friendship…


A few weekends ago, a group of well-worn friends got together at my house for some holiday cheer and the type of community only time and trust can build. Throughout the afternoon and evening, while my grandchildren played hide and seek under our chairs and around our legs, we sat at the kitchen table telling stories we’ve all told before, eating, drinking and laughing … the way laughter is meant to sound.

We call ourselves the ‘Daughters of Diminished Capacity’ and are an eclectic group of artists, nurses, labor organizers and writers. We joke how we have a motto, but don’t remember what it says. As we age, we talk about living together in an elder commune … somewhere on the water for sunset cocktails, but with a fence so no one drowns. We will also need a large kitchen and would each require our own bathroom!

Earlier on this particular day, my youngest granddaughter walked around reading neon orange sticky notes her Nonie had posted all over the house –

don’t forget clothes in dryer
What was the name of that movie?
password = lmnop123
Dishes in dishwasher clean
Welcome new neighbors
Where is the elephant poop recipe?

Eventually, she asked why I had so many sticky notes. “Honey, you are seven. You wouldn’t understand.”

I can memorize a poem and am able to recall it fifteen years later. I can tell you my best friend’s phone number from 1965, the name of my 1st grade teacher … yet, can I remember that I ran the dishwasher last night?? No! Where did I put that sticky?

Or what about the roll of raffle tickets I know are somewhere in the house. I can picture them in a drawer or maybe a bag. They are blue. And now, I have two rolls…someplace.

And yes, this seems to be a common refrain these days from friends and family and yes, there are plenty of clichés to back us up. Most of the time, we laugh it off or give ourselves a good smack in the head.

There is a lovely poem written by the late poet, Stanley Kunitz entitled ‘Touch Me’, http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2004/08/13

Touch Me

Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.

This poem brings me back to the kitchen table with the Daughters (and the wine) to help me appreciate the magic and meaning of friendship. And how we remind each other who we are.