A Special Thank You to Old Friends

A Special Thank You to Old Friends

It’s been quite a shockeroo getting older. Although I’m grateful to still be at the party, my feet really hurt from dancing. I’ve gained a bit of experience good and bad and that has led to many truths I now embrace.

One of the realizations I’ve come to is that despite time and distance, we need to care about and keep in touch with old friends.

The laugh laugh golden years are as scary a place to enter as the New York subway,. We seek comfort in this new uncharted world and one sure place to which we can turn for help is old friends.

Memories become so fickle when your brain becomes the arbiter of what we are able to remember. 

“Excuse me, brain what did I do last week?”

“Sorry, can’t compute right now. However do you remember when you were in high school and you went to that concert with your friends and drove to Canada and…?”

“No, Brain. I’m trying to recall what I did last Thursday not a hundred years ago.”

“Bossy bossy, don’t push your luck here. Take what you can get. Your request will take a few minutes to pull up, meanwhile here’s a fun gem from your sorority initiation.”

“Great, thanks, brain. Just what I need to cheer me up, a visual of me at twenty.”

As these older memories become more prevalent, old friends rise to the forefront of our minds. It somehow feels good to recall happy, carefree times and the friends with whom we shared them.

As we’re making an appointment for our knee surgery, it’s comforting to call an old friend that has survived that battle. And while you’re chatting good memories surface to dispel the unpleasantness of reality. 

I never thought I would have anything in common with Lindsey Wagner except being female, but now it seems we are both bionic.

The last few years have been brutal for most of us occupying planet earth. Locked down, shut in and unable to travel or see grandchildren has taken a toll on the happiness factor to which we all aspire.

Even the most optimistic of us can’t ignore or rebuff the realities of growing older. Taking ten minutes to straighten up from a chair when once we jumped up and ran. Marching into surgery centers to get replacement parts that are done with such automated precision General Motors is envious. Finding fat where muscle once occupied space in our bodies becomes apparent when a good wind perfectly directed at our underarms can turn us into the Flying Nun. The fun amusement park of growing older has more rides than Hunter Biden has drugs.

A friend admitted recently that she is now perfectly content to be home more. Where once she would seek to be active and out in the world she is content to be safe in her cocoon and needn’t travail the outside world as often. I could relate. 

Yet when we are home, despite all efforts to keep our minds busy with activities like, streaming, reading, cooking, chatting on the phone with friends, and how we failed to save the world for democracy, we have more time to think about “the good old days,” and those with whom we traveled that road. 

Shared memories can lighten the load of a difficult day. Remembering happy times brightens what might be a sad time when you learn a friend is ill or you lose someone. For just a moment while we are talking we become young once more and still filled with those awe-and-wonder feelings of youth.

Of course we all determine to keep busy and active. To make the most of every minute and live in a state of gratitude, thankful for our blessings, but when life throws us a curveball old friends are there to catch it before it hits you in the head.

I’m not in any way suggesting we live in the past, but let’s be real; the past contains a lot of years and a lot of memories. Moments that make us feel warm and cozy and contain laughter and the joys of youth. What a great feeling if even for a few minutes that young and carefree shared happiness returns and brightens our lives.

So many of us now leave the holiday cooking to our daughters or daughters in law to achieve. Standing in the kitchen has become a chore not so easily accomplished and we’re happy to pass the torch to our children.

Still those pre-holiday times remain a time of joyous memories. My friend Marsha and I would talk on the phone while preparing mashed potato dumplings. Chatting and laughing made the time pass quicker, and the task of cooking for thirty people less tedious. Now at holiday time speaking to Marcia brings back the happy feeling of the family all together again, parents, in laws and even husbands that are no longer here. For even a brief conversation everyone is once again alive and sharing a holiday meal.

Old friends can give this gift to us, the remembrance of a time when those who’ve left are once again at the forefront of our happiest memories. Places we haunted as kids, schools we attended and old neighborhood foods and faces return. 

The challenges of getting older seem easier when shared. As any difficult task many hands make quick work and it’s comforting to know those whom you trust have the audacity to face Father Time head on. 

Putting up a sukkah with friends was quite an occasion each year and now the feel of autumn while talking to Yolanda brings those memories close. An over abundance of food, the smell of the branches, watching in my mind’s eye as my children, now young again, place the leaves on the walls as the crisp autumn air encircles them in a blanket of laughter and love.

I was lucky to have so many friends I cared and still care about. Although my childhood friend Nancy is in Florida a Facetime call brings her into the same room to laugh and gossip about our crowd. Okay, and good practice at ignoring the now-evident wrinkles.

I suppose I’m the overly sentimental type but I know when I speak to old friends time slips away like a curtain and pictures of wonderful times reappear.

I imagine we all wonder what it would be like to pick one moment to relive once again, yet all of these times are available by simply sharing them through a phone call or Facetime. Perhaps this is the universe’s gift to us and as far as I can see it seems to be working just fine. 

Feeding Seagulls

Seagulls are interesting creatures. I often believe they are merely the squirrels of the beach, yet they are lacking the adorable bushy tales that would endear one to love and feed them.

In all honesty the sound of a seagull is not relaxing or Zen. Unlike the chirping of a robin emitting an almost hypnotic morning song, seagulls loud cawing squawk is dare I say annoying at best. Their cries don’t exactly lull one to sleep on a sandy, sun-filled beach but announce their presence in a hawkish fashion.

So I must ask why my penchant for constantly feeding and nurturing such a discordant bird? Is it merely the fact they own the skies at the beach and their existence is some sort of proof we are at a place of calm and solitude?

Are they the landlords of the water’s edge and thus entitled to be cared for by us, mere interlopers on their terrain and is this some sort of pay off for allowing us to curl up on the sand and luxuriate in the sun’s healing rays?

Try as I might to understand my need to nurture them I remain simply stumped. My insane desire to feed squirrels is at least understandable by virtue of their adorable faces and precious puffy tales, but seagulls? I can’t even claim they are beautiful birds but a drab gray color that does nothing to inspire the senses as say the brilliant red of a cardinal or winged gymnastics of a hummingbird.

Yet there I am tearing off parts of a sandwich to feed them as they walk closer to me to ensure their place in the cafeteria line and chase off their brethren.

I can’t seem to help myself. Up close when they shoot me a cock of the head or an eyeball in my direction I find myself wishing I’d brought more food and wondering where to secure extra. I balk at the fact I’ll run out and suffer their scorn when I no longer possess any crusts of bread.

What is my problem? I’m certain I’m not the only one that falls under their spell when beachcombing. They seem to have a sense of those who will instantly succumb to their charms and begin throwing edibles. Is it written on my face…come here for food?

Of course they are cute in their way, but pandas they are not, yet I can’t seem to deny them.

After much self-reflection, I’ve come to believe it’s the sound of seagulls that endears them to me. If my eyes are closed and I feel a warm glow over my entire body and hear the sound of seagulls circling overhead, it is a certainty I am at the beach.

A place filled with happy childhood memories of floating in the Atlantic in an inner tube with a seat created by my grandfather. The times spent on the beach with him can never be erased although when I’m busy living life it leaves little time for those coveted childhood moments.

Thus my love for seagulls for they instantly return me to that time and place where I shared happy days by the ocean with my beloved grandfather. Despite a bite by a Man o’ War, a near drowning or any mishap the times at the beach were magical. Now as I reflect back on my life I see my grandfather’s face, feel the sand in my toes and hear the cawing of the seagulls above. It’s no wonder I seek them out and wish to have them near.

Too many scenes of our childhoods seem to get caught between the crevices of our minds and lost with time. A sound, taste or smell can suddenly reawaken those hidden moments and allow us to relive them instantly.

As I’ve entered a new phase of my life I seem to find a great deal of solace in those forgotten memories and fight to revive them as much as possible.

Times and experiences of childhood are now long gone and cannot be recaptured, so it’s more important then ever to retain their happiness and refuse to let them fade.

The sound of a seagull at the beach, the smell of burning leaves in autumn, the taste of your mother’s delicious soup you’ve tried in vain to recreate or the hot chocolate that warmed you through when ice skating with your father on a wintery Sunday afternoon.

One can never quite predict when a memory will resurface or what can spark its return. Whenever one does I force myself to hold onto to it as long as possible before allowing it to retreat back into an obscure corner of my mind.

Perhaps we underestimate the beauty of a memory because we have so many, and the number grows larger as we age.

I’ve decided to embrace every moment that adds happiness to my life; whether it be now or in the past it must be counted.

A new year will bring new memories, but I shall always be happy sitting on the beach, curling my toes in the sand, hearing the waves trickle onto the shore and feeding the seagulls. So they aren’t the most beautiful bird, but the recollections they conjure up are for me some of the best of my life.

Memories die with us and we will live on in those whose lives we’ve touched. They will also live on in those with whom we’ve shared them.

If you see me sitting on the beach surrounded by seagulls don’t think me eccentric, join me and we can relive some wonderful recollections together. I’ll even bring extra bread for you.