Posted by: cg00n | May 16, 2008


Yesterday evening our friend C dropped in for a beer after she’d finished ferrying A back and forth to Sea Cadets. Her life is one of frenetic activity, mostly spent taking care of her family and working whatever jobs she can find. She is also a “come from away” person, although she did that 20 odd years ago. I emailed her a while back asking her if she could just come and spend a little social time with us since we can’t get out much. We have only recently migrated here and have yet to build up much of a social circle. It came as a surprise to us that C finds herself in much the same position even after having lived here so long. When she needs to talk to a close friend she phones Wisconsin and maybe talks to her sister. There are a whole slew of reasons for this which sounded very familiar. She semi-quoted Pierre Berton who is supposed to have commented that one only makes close friends up to the age of 20; after that at best you make close acquaintances. That sounds like a pretty good rule of thumb to me, although I think there can be exceptions.

Most of our best friends are people we have known since university days or before. The fact that they are still best friends is clearly indicated by the amount of remote support we have been getting from the moment I sent out the Bad News email a few weeks back. (Indeed I completely forgot to mention, when I first wrote this entry, that my very long-time friend Dr. D.L called from London, England today to inquire after my health.)  With them we have been through all sorts of trials and tribulations, helping each other out, crying on each others’ shoulders. In some ways it is hard to build up that sort of history when you are middle aged. There seems to be so little time for socializing unlike the party days of our early twenties. We all get focussed on the mechanics of life: paying the rent, buying the food, maintaining the car, doing our jobs, running after the kids…. And yet when you really need those good friends, there they are! Like magic they appear with words of comfort, bowls of chicken soup and in extreme cases hip waders.

Still, when we are this far away we do miss the physical shoulder on which to literally cry. As a result I have embarked on a crash program of friend acquisition. Um, that sounds a bit mercenary, but there are a few friends (like C) around here who are very good people that I was hoping to get to know better anyway – ideally after we had a nice new house to which to invite them. With no trace of pride whatever I emailed and phoned several of the people over the last few days practically begging them to come and drink our beer. Another friendly couple dropped in this evening with lots of good (personally-acquired) advice on how to live with and cope with cancer. It was a most useful and convivial evening and we look forward to seeing them again soon. We are also hoping to catch up with another friend sometime late next week.

I have always believed that any human relationship takes work, no matter who is involved. I am willing to work quite hard to make good friends even if Pierre Berton says it can’t be done at my age. It’s not that I don’t value my existing good friends – perish the thought! But it would be wonderful to have one or two geographically proximal, because in my case my friends are my family.

Finally, in other news, the on-call VON came by yesterday evening and re-dressed my heel again. She said the bleeding was probably due to a blister that had burst and that this was probably good, since it was better to have the discharge out of my body. However, she also said that the back part of the patch looked a bit off-colour which might mean a problem (like an infection) but could also simply be due to the blood supply not being quite sorted out to that area yet.

Today’s VON redressed my heel and said that the “patch” is looking better than it was when she saw it several days ago and that it is not uncommon for a piece of transplanted skin of that size not to “take” 100%. Generally what they do in such a case is to treat it as they would any other skin infection, so I don’t have to worry about going through the whole freaking grafting operation again. I have also discovered that I have to be very careful about how I support my leg to keep it elevated in order to avoid constricting the blood flow, which may be hindering the healing process: we’ll see how things go for the next few days.

Thanks for tuning in.



  1. Good on you for reaching out to make new friends. My father always said, “It is hard to keep a good man down!”

    Goethe wrote: “To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of differences, distances or thoughts expressed ~ That can make life a garden.”

  2. Y’know, in this day and age, your friends don’t actually need to be physically present to cheer you up. I know you’re probably not a big fan of it, but do consider instant messaging or even Skype.

    Yes, I know that you don’t actually get to see your friends using that medium. Hey, mayhaps that’s a good thing sometimes? 😉

  3. Hello there,
    I must say that I find myself looking for your new entries and am having a wonderful opportunity to see a little glimpse into the world of B. Our lives had touched so minimallly in the past but I have always considered you and your family a great prospect of becoming friends even before this current event in your lives.
    You are so right when you speak of how much work that it takes to live in the world of today and the amount of energy it takes to raise strong, healthy children.
    It takes a village to heal one of the villagers and you can count this geographically closer friend, a friend indeed. The next few weeks will be more tests for all of us and I, too, am only a phone call away or forty-five minutes by car.

  4. I just lost my writing and I don’t know where it is. So here I am again after a long silence. Getting settled here in Fargo has taken all my time, even into the night as now. Today, Sept. 26, Lila arrived here from Santa Rosa, CA with her daughter, Helen as escort. Another daughter, Ann, will come to take her home on Oct. 12th. Lila is impaired from her stroke and a fall with subsequent hip surgery, but she looks good. I haven’t seen her for 2 and a half years. We drove out to our brother’s home in Buffalo for a delightful afternoon.

    Since our birthdays, I’ve thought of you often and your family, but the days here in this new residence were too full to do much writing or correspondence. I love my new location. Can’t imagine a senior residence any better than this one in all categories. It is much much better than the Eau Claire! I’ll tell you more when I have time.

    I wanted to recommend a book for you to explore when you are feeling down. It is called “Acedia and Me” by Kathleen Norris. She describes a feeling of apathy not unrelated to depression. It is called acedia. You might be enlightened to realize that this condition is quite common and to know more about how it operates. She was here to speak in the Fargo-Moorhead twin cities yesterday and I heard an interview with her on the National Public Radio recently.

    The hour is very late and I must move toward my bed, but I hope to contact you again soon, perhaps after Lila leaves. My love, Helen

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