Recently I wrote about the different types of relationships we have. Some are for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. The past few days I spent time with a couple of friends and their families in Alabama who are friends for a lifetime. Our visits reinforced to me why these are friends who I am bonded to forever.
My trip began in Gadsden, Alabama with my forty-five-year friends Pam and Butch. (www.everydayliving.me.) Pam and I were able to squeeze in lots of talking, eating, and shopping, all in two nights and one full day. This visit also included visiting with their son Seth and his family; his wife Allison and daughter Ella Mae.
One of my regrets from this Gadsden visit is that I did not take any photos of anyone but Ella Mae! I had planned to have a picture taken of Pam and me after Sunday School, but my plans changed. I decided to spend some time with Cokey, Pam’s father, instead of going to Sunday School, a decision that I was so glad to have made. Cokey’s given name is Coy. Cokey is the nickname my daughter, Tara, gave him when she was little, and trying to say “Coy.” Cokey was like a grandfather to Tara. Our visit that morning was special, and although I’m sure Sunday School was special as well, my decision to visit with Cokey was a good one.
A photo of Ella Mae and my bedside treats are the only photos of my Gadsden visit. I think I was so tired from the drive from North Carolina to Alabama and dealing with the construction and traffic all along the trip that I wasn’t thinking clearly until I had rested well. And rested well, I did! Pam’s bedside treats helped in that regard.
I make it a point to take photos of loved ones as often as I can, knowing that we never know when one of those could be our last photo of that person. This thought is not intended to be morbid, just realistic.
I made the decision about photos years ago when my cousin, who was more like a brother than a cousin, passed away unexpectantly. Thankfully, I had seen him not long before that and had taken a photo of him. At that time, it was not common for me to take photos. When he passed away soon after that and I had his recent photo, I vowed then to make sure to take a photo of loved ones as often as I could.
Late Sunday morning, I left Gadsden and drove an hour to Talladega to visit with my fifty-one-year friend, Judy, and family. That visit began with a baby shower for Judy’s daughter (and my namesake) Patti Anne. Patti Anne and husband Justin, parents of seven-year-old Suzy, are expecting a son in March. The shower was lovely, and friends and family enjoyed being together to celebrate the soon to be arrival of baby Jake Bryan.
The next day Judy and I started our day with a lovely lunch, then we went antiquing, which is one of our favorite things to do! The day ended with a delicious dinner at Patti Anne’s. I am glad that I had finally recovered from my long drive and remembered to get some photos of these friends and even other things.
I left Judy’s the next morning and drove to Atlanta to meet Mike for a meeting. We will leave Atlanta on Friday and drive to our daughter Tara’s on the other side of Georgia to celebrate our middle granddaughter, Elsie’s, twelfth birthday.
This is the trip that I made a comment about in last week’s post. The comment was about dreading all of the travelling I would be doing. I am so glad that I made the effort.
I moved from Alabama to North Carolina in 1981, leaving these wonderful friends behind. In the intervening thirty-eight years, we have all done our part to keep our relationships strong. We have travelled across states at least once a year and some years more often to remain close, and to be there for each other’s major life events, including weddings, birthdays, and also, funerals. Had we not done so, it is likely that our close bonds would have not stood the test of time and distance. It has not always been easy, but it has always been worth it.
Relationships do not stay strong without time and effort spent. We make decisions every day by our behavior whether to develop strong bonds with others, or not. Some of our behaviors in this regard are not consciously made, but they are made, nonetheless.
Sometimes relationships die due to lack of attention. Sometimes they die for other reasons, such as unresolved conflict. It is sad when the latter happens, but it is usually because the relationships weren’t strong to begin with; they may have been for a reason or a season, not for a lifetime.
We have all heard it said that no one on their death bed ever wishes they had spent more time at the office. Instead, they regret not having spent more time with their loved ones.
Time is a finite resource. We only have so much time that we can give to anyone or anything. It behooves us to choose carefully. I am so glad to have chosen these lifelong friends, and them, me. My life is richer because of them.