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Friendship: A Lifelong Journey

February 4, 2023

Another Way for week of January 27, 2023

Friendship: A Lifelong Journey

Editor’s note: First in a five-week series on friendship.

How are you as a friend?

I used to be quite jealous of friends who I felt were more outgoing, more chatty, friendly, and genuinely caring and helpful in their relationships. I value friendship and therefore I’m launching this series looking at what it means to work on being a better friend. 

Over the years I hope I have grown but I am still not as friendly or as sociable as I’d like to be.

Some 35 years ago, I wrote a book on friendship, because personally I wanted to be more outgoing, more personable, a better friend—instead of the introvert that I felt I was. I had written for a radio program on the topic and some of us whirled it into a book idea.

An aside: This was long before the launch of that long running comedy TV show, “Friends.” It ran for 10 very popular years, 1994 to 2004 plus forever in reruns. When it had its initial run I felt it was too mature for my daughters, especially the youngest who was only eight.

I’m still not the world’s greatest friend although I work at it. It’s hard for me to remember names, to launch conversations (sometimes), and to initiate times spent with friends.

Perhaps my ultimate image of a friend was a young woman I knew in the 70s who was so bubbly, so glowing, and quite beautiful that next to her I felt dowdy even if I was dressed for a night out. Thankfully, she was also a wonderful friend to people and just plain nice, such that you couldn’t possibly dislike or be jealous of her. Ok, I think was jealous but she was able to listen and encourage and laugh with you and make you feel good.

Think of the people you like to be around. What makes them enjoyable? A good friend takes interest in others, probably has a good sense of humor. I always found it interesting that my friends enjoyed being around my mother. They would say, “We like your mom. She laughs at herself and is not afraid to act dumb or silly with us.”

Our third baby, not too happy on Easter Sunday: by the time the third child comes around, photos are few and far between.

Now that I’m older I especially appreciate the value of having friends or family who are readily there for you in down times—and hope I have learned to be there for others. I remember a time when we had a new baby in the house—our third. My mother could not come to help us at that time like she had after our two older daughters were born, due to my father’s health situation. This was in February and flu was going around. We had fevers in the family that hung on for three weeks, and in the delivery room my husband was spiking a fever. A week after birth, the baby was jaundiced and not nursing or sleeping well at night.

One morning when it seemed like I’d been up all night, the older girls were clamoring for breakfast, the baby was wanting to be nursed, and a knock came at the door. I thought to myself, “Oh no, there’s no way I can let anyone see me like this.”

Older siblings can be a friend to younger sibs.

But it was my wonderful next-door neighbor and the jig was up. As I let her in, I collapsed on her shoulder explaining, “The baby’s been up all night and I’m exhausted.” It felt wonderful to let down that floodgate. She held me, and I remembered how my shoulder had served the same purpose for her not many years before when her husband died suddenly. I think it was because she had let me see her vulnerable side too, that I felt free to be genuine with her. She helped me pull breakfast together for the girls before she dashed off to her teaching job, and the rest of the day went much better because of Barbara. I will never forget it.  

Memories and experiences like this make me want to spruce up my connections and friendship with others. Being and becoming a better friend means working on yourself.

Sharing coffee or a treat with neighbors or friends is a great way to cement friendships.

Do you recall a time when a friend or family member came through for you when you were desperately needing a friend?

On the other hand, any memories of when you were able to step in and help in an appreciated way?

What do you enjoy doing with a friend?

Your stories or experience? Write to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. It’s okay not to be bubbly or jolly if that’s not your personality type. What I value most in friendship is authenticity, which applies equally to introverts and extraverts. I liked the line “We like your mom. She laughs at herself and is not afraid to act dumb or silly with us.” Showing vulnerability is also a plus when building and sustaining friendships.

    Thank you for being my friend, Melodie! 😀

    • Thank you for giving me permission to not be bubbly or jolly! Sweet! And yes, I certainly count you as a friend I haven’t met yet.
      Looking forward to hearing what you’re up to this week. 🙂

  2. You’ll find out on Wednesday’s blog, Melodie. 😀

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