Looking back over the years I realized today more than ever the gift of friendship. It seems to me that women do better in this area than men. Women will network and confide in each other.

The relationship between two girls as they become teenagers gives them an opportunity to compare and communicate with each other on their feelings and circumstances. This is a time when mothers are unable to reach daughters. It is their friends who are their confidantes and go to people. Their dress code, music and dating are their subjects of interest. Growing into womanhood with good friends is a bond preparing for future relationships that can remain a lifetime.

Young women becoming mothers lean on and join with others in their realm to compare child rearing, husband critique and other important subjects. We compare our children’s progress, frustrations and successes and find comfort in similarity.

In our later years, sad as it may be, it is the women friends who get us through our times of stress, sadness and disappointments. If we are fortunate enough to have a close relationship with a friend, she will be there for you. She may be the one you call late in the evening when you are alone and lonely and need someone to talk to. She will listen for long periods of time, comforting, advising to lift you up.

As widows it is the company of women who can relate to your loss of a spouse or child with sympathy and understanding. How precious is this gift of friendship at such times of distress. Only when you build an ongoing relationship is this possible. It is necessary to be trusting and non-judgemental at best, and a good listener most of the time.

In our later years it becomes a ritual it seems that our life and world start to decline in so many ways. To be befriended by someone who knows your faults and shortcomings is a blessing and a constant source of inspiration. The beginning of the cycle of losing our friends through illness and ultimately dying we realize what they have given us and hopefully we have reciprocated. It is as painful as losing a family member, sometimes more so since we have chosen these people to be in our lives.

Establish your relationships, hold them dear and remember to have a friend we must be a friend with all that is necessary to remain a friend.

Linda Alessi is a retired bank manager who lives in Lebanon and writes a weekly column about family, friends and memories.

Linda Alessi is a retired bank manager who lives in Lebanon and writes a weekly column about family, friends and memories.

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