Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friends in Low Places

Growing up, I was surrounded by doctors, senators, and other various professional types. These were movers and shakers, people who got things done. I went to school with their kids. They were my Sunday School teachers. And for those that didn't grow up in the South (Louisiana, particularly), let me tell you that Southern hospitality ain't dead.

That's a great thing after the loss of a loved one. There's more food than a battallion can eat. There's always chicken, potato salad, and lots of desserts. On the upside, if one is willing to be a constant companion of the house of the deceased, one's eating expenses can be cut to $0.00. On the other hand, one is also going to get very fat on pineapple cake, cookies, carrot cake, brownies, pies, casseroles, breads, pastas, and the endless parade of various homemade specialties.

My eating expenses are not $0.00 on this trip. In fact, the night Dad died, his widow, two close friends of hers, myself and my toddler went out for Mexican and she and I had daquiris, just as he would've wanted to do had he been able to join us. It is one of my best memories of this trip.

But to get back from my tangent, the people I grew up with were "high brow" and they were my dad's friends, my grandparents' friends... not mine. I always chose the people who were more likely to be the deceased rather than be attending a funeral. But these were good people, with large hearts, even if they didn't want to become the next greatest thing in heart surgery.

My friends in low places have grown into adults of sustaining means. By this I mean that they pay their bills, they raise their kids, and they could care less if their clothes are bought at a designer department store or on sale at Goodwill. They get it done.

They also, after years without word from me in some cases, remember what it is to be a friend. It means sometimes you show up with a couple of beers and just sit and talk about whatever comes to mind until long after you should be getting back to routine. It means that when you don't feel all that great with your own illness, you still manage to have dinner with a friend who's hurting, who you don't see very often. It means you drive for an hour or more from another city to come visit an old friend, even though you have to rearrange your schedule with real effort, just to be a comfort.

Bless their hearts.

From my friends in higher places, another long-standing friend of mine is taking time away from her one month old son to support me, and God bless her, one of my dearest friends in the whole world is flying in from the Midwest to be here today.

My point is this: all those doctors' and senators' kids have never kept in touch with me, and were not close to me during my childhood. My friends were the ones that either made something of themselves from less financed means, or they are content to be hard-working blue collar folk. But my friends are not "aquaintances" nor are they "fair weather" friends. I am impressed at their outpouring of support and friendship, and am so blessed for it.

Ya'll, may you have friends like mine. Oh, they're not gonna bring me a cake nor send flowers. They're gonna bring drinks and sit up late into the night. But when we get together, we celebrate life, not reminisce death. Man, I've got good friends.

1 comment:

Dach said...

Well, I was going to leave this for you and you alone to read, but apparently it's too good not to share. I unfortunatley cannot give the originator of this statement credit, as I cannot find who said it. "At the time of ones death, it isn't that the person is moving on to a spiritual experience. It's quite the contrary, it's the spirit ending a human experience and returning to it's natural state".
I can only imagine how difficult it has been for you to have to say goodbye to your father. I know how difficult it was to say goodbye to a grandfather not too long ago (earlier posts), but you learn to move on, and I know that the kids will finally come to accept it as true, and they need to know that missing their grandfather is a natural feeling. They are too young to know that being selfish would cause increased pain, but they will also be conscious of the idea that he will never leave them, and that he will be watching over them for a long time.
I hope you have a safe journey to and from the funeral, and make the most of the memories. Share funny stories that you have, and laught and recapture those good times.
Yes there is mourning, but there is also reflection, and by the time you return home, you'll find that most of the healing has already happened. You'll be able to see some of those things about your father that you would miss appearing in the faces and (unfortunately) behaviors of your children.
Holding on to those that you care for is easy; it's the letting go that hurts like hell.