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Investing in Your Friendship Future

June 4, 2011

When my loving Dad passed away after being married to my Mom for 60 years, my 82-year-old mother, Charlotte, found herself engulfed by loneliness. My Mom had built a beautiful life wrapped around her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the love of her life, George. While they had friends throughout their lifetime, as those friends moved or passed on, my parents didn’t make new friends, either as a couple or as individuals. Their lives were full.

My younger sister, Karen, graciously invited our Mom to move from San Diego,California, to Salem, Oregon, to live near her and her family. Eager to meet women around her own age, my Mom joined a seniors’ exercise class. To her dismay, she said women in their seventies saw her as “too old” and wanted nothing to do with her. Those closer to her age who were married avoided her, afraid she might “steal” their husbands.

At a local senior center, my Mom made two new friends, but one was so busy with her family and neighbors, she barely had time to spend with my mother.  And the other woman, whom she adored, faced financial issues and moved miles away to live with her kids.

Though my sisters and I wished that we were enough to fill my Mom’s heart and life, the truth is the profound loss of my Dad and the lack of close female friends created a sense of loneliness and a yearning to belong that we just couldn’t satisfy. My mother longed for women who were around her own age with whom she could connect on a soul level.

I watched my Mom face a future she had not emotionally prepared for. I wish more than anything that she’d had the valuable resources of female friendships.

This is one of the reasons we’re writing this blog. Regardless of how full our lives are today, it’s so important to be intentional about creating time for our female friends. Make it a priority, not something to be done later when … (you fill in the blank).  Investing in our female friendships, with the same energy and attention we put toward our financial future, nets an invaluable return.  I know my Mom would encourage just that!

.–Diane

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynn Davis permalink
    June 4, 2011 8:08 pm

    Diane, Thank you for the reminder of the value of the friends we have today and making sure we don’t take them for granted. It is important to embrace and treasure them. I see how the friendships my mom has made are the key to keeping her vibrant and happy since my dad passed away. She still gets lonely as nothing will replace that relationship but her girlfriends and family are her strength.

  2. June 5, 2011 6:10 pm

    This was a most profound blog entry, Diane, and I remember the two of us discussing this very subject. Your Mom was a wonderful lady, and I think of her fondly. I’m glad she and I had lunch together shortly before she moved to Salem.

    Thanks again for creating this excellent blog, which enables us to express our feelings so openly.

    • June 7, 2011 9:30 pm

      Thanks, Pat, for your comment and for expressing your feelings here. We are so glad you are part of this important conversation about what we can do to support one another.

  3. Kathy White permalink
    June 6, 2011 7:07 am

    Having lived through this sad time of her life with my mom I can attest to the longing we have for close friendships outside of our immediate family. I admit to sometimes being wrapped up so much in my own large family’s affairs that I have to be careful not to let this happen. Luckily for me I am in a wonderful woman’s service organization Soroptimist and have some wonderful females in my life to share experiences with.

    • June 7, 2011 9:32 pm

      Service organizations and women’s associations are such a great place to meet like-minded women. Thanks, Kathy, for helping us realize that even when we have large families, we can still take time to support other women.

  4. June 6, 2011 9:22 am

    What a wonderful entry. Sometimes the mommy in me feels guilty when I set aside time for my girlfriends, but I’m grateful for a husband AND children that encourage me to not miss out. I know they see the benefits of a refreshed mother and wife coming home from getting a chance to just be me with friends. God has opened many doors in this area for me. God wants us to have friends. There are many versesin the bible about it. So, being intentional is so important! Thanks for this post.

    I loved Grandma very much and the thought of her being lonely makes me sad, so I’ll be sure to learn from her experience like I’d know she’d want me to.

    • June 7, 2011 9:34 pm

      How blessed you are to have a family that supports your time with friends, Veronica. I know many other mothers depend on you for friendship, guidance and inspiration. We’d love to have you as a guest blogger on what these groups have brought to you! Grandma would love the fact that you have learned from her!

  5. June 9, 2011 4:33 pm

    Having Mom live near us for those few years was such a gift but at times so difficult to see her so unhappy. She tried so hard, stepping out of her comfort zone, to try and make a connection with women her own age.

    Thanks for keeping this really important topic in the forefront of our minds so we remember to be thankful for the friends we have and work at those relationships and new relationships a little harder.

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