Saturday, July 14, 2012

A friendship, or not?

I received a telephone call from and old friend and mentor early this morning. He was a little short with me because he hasn't heard from me in two weeks. "You know I worry." He said. "If I don't hear from you I don't know what to think and start wondering about the worst that could happen." It took me by surprise at first and I felt like addressing him as Mom. Then it dawned on me just what our relationship has become. I thanked him for his concern and told him I would try to do better in the future about calling him or writing letters more often. I just dropped a long letter in the mail box and he should receive it on Monday. I wrote about everything I could think of. That's what he needs right now. I am pleased to provide it.

John lives alone in a small apartment up north. Unfortunately, he has no friends left in his life. John has been a not so nice person to almost everyone he was close to over the years and through unguarded comments to them he has burned many bridges and they will not talk to him any more. He is now alone with the memories of what he's said and done except for the long distance correspondence and conversations we have. In short, he needs me. Over time I have done my best to help him apologize and make amends for the past through letters and attempted phone calls. As sad as it is, he actually had to learn how to do that. The family and friends from his past have chosen, and with good reason from what he's told me, not to reply. At least he's given it his best shot.

We met by chance 20 years ago and in his own way he advised me through a very stressful time, struck up a friendship and here we are today. In his words when he unselfishly gave me advice he experienced something he had never experienced before, consideration of someone else without expecting anything in return. That was a turning point in his life and he has worked on being a better person ever since. I can tell you from my own observation, he's had quite a job to do in that respect. But, he keeps working on it. Through his efforts I continue to learn and improve my own life.

The cornerstones of John's new life are A.A. meetings and his new found faith. For my part I guess I simply am some sort of human contact. Although he is working hard on becoming a better person he is still extremely abrasive in his talk and actions. If he didn't live way up north I'm not so sure it would be an acceptable situation as a friendship. It's workable by letter and phone calls though and also the fact that I didn't know him at his worst and don't have that insurmountable baggage to deal with.

Maybe it's a true friendship, maybe it's not but so far so good. We are both the better for it. At times he has some very interesting things to say.

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