For a great number of years I was under the impression I had a vast circle of friends.  My home would constantly be full of guests at mealtimes, braai times, in summer when the swimming pool was welcoming, and winter when the Jacuzzi was hot.  Great times were had.  Then my life circumstances changed radically.  Overnight I found myself without a home, with limited financial means, and suddenly no friends.  This left me confused.  What happened to all the people who had constantly surrounded me?  The reality was harsh for me to accept.  They were not friends.  They were acquaintances enjoying while the going was good, but not committed to walking through the rough times with me.  They did not concern themselves with my welfare.

How many friends do we have? How do we count this number – by how many followers we have on Twitter, friends on Facebook?  Who do we consider our true friends?

How we view and count our friends is personal and, no doubt, unique to each of us as individuals.

I believe I could make many so-called friends in a few hours.  I just walk into a pub and start buying all the other patrons drinks of their choice.  A few rounds of drinks later most are declaring their friendship to me.

For me true friendship develops and grows over time.  Through the good times and the bad ones. True friendship is mutual and a constant two-way street.  I admit I consider myself a late comer to understanding the nature of true friendship and what it means to me to have friends, and to be a true friend.

These days I have a handful of kind people whom I consider true friends.  They consistently love me, support me, and delight me, regardless of our circumstances.  I constantly strive to be a true friend to them.  My spouse used a phrase to summarise friendship:  “We ride the storm together.”

This phrase reminds me of one specific time when a friend astonished me with her thoughtful and kind actions.  My spouse was out the country.  Misfortune struck my family.  I had to drive out of town to attend to family matters and a funeral.  I got on the road to return home much later than expected.  Little kitty would be missing her dinner.  Matters needed attending at my home.  I had no dinner prepared for the evening.  Imagine my surprise on my return home to find my front door unlocked and standing open.  Inside was my friend just finishing cleaning my kitchen, kitty fed, and a tub of home-made soup ready for my dinner.  On seeing my arrival she turned and put the kettle on to make me a welcome cup of coffee – no words, no questions, just true friendship in action.

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey.

I have found people in my life who don’t worry about taking the bus. They are walking barefoot with me along this journey of life, and I with them.  I count them on my hands.

You know who you are.  I love you and cherish you, always holding you in my thoughts and prayers.  I am a better person for having you in my life.  Thank you.

Yours in lifelong learning,