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Jean Shriver

What a big part friends play in our life story!

The friends we walked to school with so long ago. The teenage friends we shared our secrets crushes with. The college friends with whom we studied, argued about politics and went on dates.

In early married days, friends would put down a blanket in the park and anchor each corner with a baby. Then we dealt out the cards.

Between bidding and grabbing our wandering offspring, those were exciting bridge games. These days, as we age, we are ever more dependent on our friends to keep us laughing. And they are doing their part, I can assure you.

There’s the woman who took her car to the gas station to get the oil changed.

The mechanic found a baby bunny crouched and trembling in the engine. What did my friend do?

Why took that rabbit home, of course, and put it in her spare bathroom. Two years later, Bumper the Bathroom Bunny is still in residence. My friend says she often takes her evening wine up to the bathroom to be company for her foundling.

Another kindhearted friend makes it her business to mother all the Monarch butterflies she finds in her yard.

After planting milkweed for them to eat, she patrols the area, on the lookout for a baby butterfly who isn’t yet organized enough to fly.

Coaxing the just-hatched infant with its wet wings, onto her finger, she carefully places it on a bush. This ensures that when its wings dry, the young ‘un will take to the sky.

Once a confused newborn crawled up my friends’ arm and got tangled in her hair. Much confusion and a few laughs.

A friend whom I met long ago, nurtures people as thoughtfully as the some people nurture animals. A fabulous cook, she insists on sharing her talents with her friends, cooking them mouth-watering meals even on her own birthday, an occasion when a lesser woman would ask to be taken out.

This friend is also my local resource for a good game of Scrabble.

Friends whom we met in the East, 57 years ago, are the friends who recommended Palos Verdes as a California destination. They used to ask us to dinner. Now, that my husband is housebound, they are thoughtful enough to bring dinner to our house. I need only supply wine and dessert. A small price to pay for good food and company.

Another friend and I started out as walking buddies years ago.

We tramped the roads of Portuguese Bend in the mornings year round. Then she nudged me back onto a bicycle where I hadn’t been since my youth. This led to weekly trips up the Esplanade to Marina del Rey and back.

Eventually we got lured into taking bicycle trips with our husbands to Poland, Canada, Holland and Tuscany. Then age began slowing us down. We walked by the shore for while, but even that effort petered out.

Now we drink coffee together and reminisce over the great days when we were exercise mavens who cycled in far flung corners of the world.

One special friend is often good for a laugh, but also for a bit of wisdom.

Thinking of her challenges always puts mine into their proper perspective. I thank God for her and for all the lovely people who bring light into my life on days when the sky seems dark.

As Francis Bacon wrote, “Friendship redoubles joys and cuts grief in half.”

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