Pam Rainey: Make the effort to tend to friends

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Senior Connections

I’m an old geezer who has joined social media.

I sincerely thought my arrival on Facebook would be good for my real estate business. Before long, I realized I had few real estate clients there, but was checking Facebook posts every morning.

Sometimes I learned interesting events going on in the lives of people I now called “friends.” Sometimes I just learned they had driven through a fast-food restaurant. My arthritic fingers began to wonder if Facebook was worth the effort.

However, to my surprise, social media did make me feel powerful, younger and maybe a tad bit cocky. When friends brought to my attention breaking news, I caught myself saying, “Oh yes, I saw that on Facebook earlier.” For someone who hadn’t been tech-savvy at all, Facebook seemed to give me a few moments of being on the cutting edge.

I learned quickly how to not only become a friend but how to “unfriend.” Both were easy for me. After all, I’m now over 60. I have learned friends come into our lives for a “season.” When friendships become stressful, it is time to call folks acquaintances. On Facebook, there is a button for that.

Let me explain. Life’s experiences have shown me that some friends come into our lives to teach us a lesson. Other friends come to comfort us. Some come along to be the thorn in our side that helps us become the person we have needed to be all along.

Any of these groups can be lifelong friends, but it seems there are only a few friends with whom we share a large portion of our lives.

According to an article by Cherie Burbach, “5 Ways to Nurture Friendships,” on About.com, some friends “do have the potential to be long-term, and grow with you as your life changes. One way to keep friendships of any level strong is to actively nurture them.”

I liked this article. It spoke to me. I look back and see where I have neglected friends and needed to be reminded that friendship requires effort and we have to work to keep friendship strong.

Here are some ideas the article shared to help us keep friendship resilient:

With today’s electronic communication, a handwritten note shows much thought went into it. It could be a thank-you card, a card of sympathy, a note of encouragement or a “just because” card.

Life gets complicated, no matter your age. Retired folks get extremely busy. With all the volunteer “careers” we have, plus family responsibilities, our time slips away. The article suggests that “there is nothing wrong with asking a friend for a favor,” but it’s better to regularly check in with friends and see how their lives are going.

Be prepared to listen.

Next, give meaningful gifts. Most of us are on a budget. So, expressive gifts do not have to be expensive to nurture a friendship, according to the article by Burbach. Recently, a sweet lady in my church gave me a homemade scarf. It is beautiful, and when I wear it, I am reminded of our treasured friendship. Soup, homemade gifts and Sonic cards lift others’ spirits.

From time to time, friends have points of conflict. Working through issues — or what some may call fights — means you value your friendship. Not long ago, I had a friendship that was tested. It was my fault. I made the first move to mend our 60-plus year friendship. I was very sorry, and that’s what I told my friend. I also asked her forgiveness. Admitting I was wrong took courage. You see, I’m a “type A” personality and I pride myself on being right. Now, I even don’t remember what the conflict was about. I do remember our cherished friendship is intact.

So, whether you enjoy your friends on Facebook or you choose not to be on social media, I think today’s take-away is this: Friendship takes work.

My takeaway is that it wasn’t so bad to be wrong. Maybe just this one time.

PAM RAINEY is a longtime Denton resident and a real estate agent who has helped many seniors make decisions about living arrangements. You can reach her with suggestions at rpmrny@cs.com or 940-293-3117.


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