Letters to the Editor

What do friends look, sound like?

Some time ago I was involved with selling the estate of someone whose lifelong friends failed to come through when they most needed help. As a longtime subscriber to this paper who reads it every day, I could not recall ever seeing the topic of friendship mentioned so I decided to write this.

First, let me be forthcoming. I am not one of the lucky ones whose true friends from boyhood are still are alive. The one true friend I have had as an adult died a few years back. I envy those who have true friends and those who regard themselves as true friends. Hopefully reading this will help readers think about what being a true friend involves and to know how to be a true friend when the occasion presents itself.

Contrary to what some think, I don't agree that true friends need be the same sex or that you can't have a true friendship with someone with whom you once shared a marriage or romantic relationship. In my view, becoming a true friend (unlike falling in love) is not something that happens quickly. Becoming or finding a true friend is something that can take time. I also believe it is something that, unlike a long distance marriage, can easily weather both miles and time.

So, what is a true friend? In my view, a true friend is someone who meets several criteria. We know them well and they know us well. Despite knowing us well, they enjoy our company. They listen carefully so they can understand what we mean as well as what we say. They look forward to our time together. They do not hesitate to give advice when asked and sometimes offer advice even when we don't ask for it. They are willing to get involved when their intuition says their involvement is needed even though we might object. We can engage in civil discourse on topics where we have different views, ranging from politics and religion to the best college football team. And, very importantly, a true friend is someone who will not knowingly do or say anything that might be harmful to us.

A good test of true friendship is how each of you answers this question: "How far are you prepared to go to help the other person when you know they need help?" If either of you has to think about this, that person might not be a true friend.

We all need and would like to be true friends. Hopefully reading this will help you be someone's true friend and also help you determine if those you consider to be your true friends are really true friends.

Jim Hammons


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