Friends are special treasures

From this perspective

This time of the year, particularly — December, January, and February — we remember with special fondness our friends, and “auld acquaintance” is not forgotten. Friendships are a treasure of unsurpassed value. It has been said that “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” This was an expression I remember from the days of my youth. Through the years, I have learned to appreciate the inestimable value of genuine friendships.

I so treasure my friends. My best friend is my wife, Elaine, as well as our children and our six grandchildren. Indeed, they are gifted treasures. Truly, there is no greater joy than the genuine friendship we enjoy among the members of our immediate Family. We are deeply thankful for those friendship-ties which bind us together.

And then too, we are deeply thankful for the friendships we have with all those individuals who are so much a part of our “family of friends”. Authentic friends are more valuable than precious jewels. For you see, sincere friendship is a bond that transcends all barriers. Truly, genuine friendship is a treasure trove of human quality which one can give to others and one can receive from others. Friendships are bound by the glue of mutual dependability, loyalty, spontaneity, and respect.

When does a friend become a friend? Well, it may take time to discover that a quality of friendship exists. When I was a young child, our Mom would often make a batch of homemade root beer for us to drink during the hot summer work days on the farm. But, before we could drink it, we had to wait several days for it to season. And so it is with friendship, it just may take time for an acquaintanceship to become a friendship. But somehow, you just know when an acquaintance becomes a good friend. That is just one of the many joys of getting to know folks. It has been said, “You certainly find out what a person is really like, when you see how that person treats other folks who may not be in a position to do anything for him or her.” You know, how true that is.

I treasure my friends of long standing from the days of my youth, and the new friends I have gained along the way. One just does not forget a genuine friend. A friend is one who believes in you and will stand by you every step of the way. To have a loyal friend like that is a rare find. To be sure, one values one’s friendships by a being a loyal, genuine, and trusted friend in like- manner. You know, there is a magnet in each of our hearts that will attract true friends. That magnet is exemplified by unselfishness and thinking of others first. For the language of friendship are not only words but meaningful actions.

Friends do not have to always be together to remain friends. Geography and time need not separate friendships. There are times good friends are separated for years, but when they meet again, they feel as loyal to each other as they were when they were younger. Real friendships last a lifetime. And, as folks get busy with their own families, personal endeavors, and work schedules, all it takes is a reunion to rekindle the happy memories and loyalties. And loyalties exist when a spirit of credibility is present.

All in all, credibility must exist between individuals if a spirit of friendship is to abide. A tree is known by its fruit; a person by their deeds. A good deed is never lost; one who sows courtesy reaps friendship, one who plants kindness gathers respect. And respect engenders credibility, which is a bond for friendship to exist.

The genuine joy of friendship is not only the outstretched hand, the kindly smile, or the joy of comradeship; it is the inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with their friendship. And when one discovers a friend, you in like-manner are doing for others what others are doing for you. Ah yes, friendship is truly the brilliantly glowing gilt-edged treasure trove of a gift that is never to be forgotten!

Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is a resident of Gowanda and Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at SUNY Fredonia.


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