I woke up this morning reflecting on how lucky I am to have so many good friends.
I don't mean to belabor the point about friendship because I've written about it a few times. but this morning for some reason it took on a special importance. Nothing in particular.
For the point I want to try and make I will exclude family, for often family members have completely different sets of dynamics. Friendship has its own.
As I age friendship takes on a much more prominent role in my life.
At the end of the day, it's not about how much money one has, how many toys, how much power or authority, but rather how your treat your fellow man.
I am really fortunate to be blessed with a number of people whom I consider close friends. Like Fred McNulty, Fred Cicco, Jim Fitzer, Ric Frataccia, Dave Rose, Chris Mahlmann, and I could go on and on. The Saturday morning breakfast club in Valparaiso is a good example of friendship at its most basic level.
Fred Cicco wrote about this group in a blog a few weeks ago. Each week the boys get together, have some laughs, talk about serious issues, and when it adjourns I personally feel much better going into the weekend having spent this time with my friends.
But my friendships transcend that group. My neighbors, Al and Jannice Naramore are like family. I don't care what the request, Al or Jannice is there. Or Kenneth Allen, who gave me a job.
And then there's Renata and Artur Pniak. Both physical therapists. They immigrated here from Poland some years ago. I was lucky enough to find Renata at Accelerated Rehabilitation following knee replacement surgery. While she is an outstanding PT, both she and her husband Art are now, I'm proud to say, good friends.
They are quality, decent, people without an agenda other than to be kind, compassionate and folks who appreciate life, friends and family.
Everything happens for a reason. I am attracted to these kind of people...for that I and thankful. And all the above mentioned, and many, many more of my friends fall into that category. One in particular is in Lake County.
And while I see these people fairly often as we all live in Valparaiso, Indiana, there are lots of others who are my friends because they are good, decent people. Like Jack and Andrea Palmer.
I speak to Jack maybe twice year, yet he's like a brother to me. For those who know Jack from his days in Valpo, they know he has been blessed. But he's the same, good, decent person.
Or my one and only high school friend from our days at Proviso West High School near Chicago. Mart Loveall who lives in Terre Haute, Indiana, who is a retired electrician. I talk to him a couple of times a month.
Or David Stamps, who I wrote about recently. Or Jim Jackson, the best man at my wedding nearly 17 years ago. He lives in St. Charles, Illinois.
I probably have as many female friends. Deb Butterfield, Pat Puffer, Reba Kennedy in San Antonio, and more. My only requirement is that they are good, decent, compassionate people. I have no tolerance for others.
Part of my reflection this morning is the importance of nurturing friendships. Therapists use this analogy when talking about marriage, but the same can be said of friendships - they need nurturing. Maybe not daily, or even monthly, but some periodic connection is a must, like water and fertilizer in a garden.
Without it, those friendships can wither and die.
So I look forward to this Saturday morning. I won't get all mushy, but in my mind I will be thinking how fortunate I am. I hope they feel the same.