Best friends for 40 years but what do the memories look like? 11



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Look around. How many of your friends go back to your youth? And how much of your life have you shared with them? Do you only remember the fond memories, even though what makes your friendship special is the hard times? It’s funny how with those friends you can be as silly as you were when you were young, and as crazy as you feel like because those people know you like no one else. An old friendship is like nothing else.

I look around at the 60-year-olds I know and most of them have two or three friendships that go back a long long way. For many, their friendships have lasted longer than their marriages. And 40 or 50 years seems like it has gone in a flash. But the memories are very different to the reality.

It started for many in their youth and innocence, back in the 60s or early 70s when you were school buddies or friends at the local footy club. Life was rosie in those memories, full of moments of simplicity and happiness. You don’t remember being broke, being unemployed, getting pregnant before expecting it, or facing up to the really hard things.

But that is what great friendships are made of. You memories fade away to romantic parts, remembering the best bits and ignoring what made that friendship stronger. Do you ever take the time to remember the real reasons why you became friends and which of the times in your life those friends were most significant?

Do your memories look like this?

My father-in-law met his best friend at the local footy club, as a 20-year-old. Their girlfriends met not long after. Those girlfriends became wives, and as couples, they became such good friends that they grew up through the next phases of life together. Each couple had children just months apart, and before long they were godparents to each others’ little ones. My in-laws moved to the sunshine of Queensland, not long after, their friends followed them north, to just two hours south of their new home. Again, they found reasons to bring their lives closer.

The kids became great mates, treated each other like cousins and the family bonds turned into family traditions of Christmas holidays spent together at each others’ beaches alternatively. Sounds like a wonderful set of memories doesn’t it?

It leaves out the fact that the men spend most of their spare moments away their families in the early days “bloking it up”, swilling beer and ignoring their obligations. It leaves out the battles with money and hardship, illness and cancer. It leaves out the arguments, the spats and the disagreements that had a grudge attached. It leaves out the fact that they sat on opposite sides of politics, and never saw eye to eye.

But the romance continues. 40 years on, the grown children are true family members still, who trust and love each other more than many cousins do. One of those dear friends was lost to cancer and its complications, and his wife has been through living hell in the fight. The friendship though has been there through everything. Through romance, hardship, battle, children, financial challenges, fights, worries and love it has come out on top. That’s the thing about the memories of friendship, its memories are so special that it leaves out all the tough stuff yet, those things are what friendships over 40 years are made of.

When life got tough, these friends were always the ones who understood, apologised or helped. When loved ones suffered illnesses, battled cancer, or financial woes bit, they knew each other well enough to know how to help. Closer than close, friendships like this are some of the biggest blessings in life.

I watch our in-laws enjoy their times with old friends in a very different way to their new friends. With their old friends there is a great laugh to be had in sharing the history way back then. There is fun to be had remembering the careless moments, and the less solemn ones. And there is a great joy in celebrating how you became friends in the very beginning. Watching them, it makes me want to take really good care of my friends today so I can call them “old friends” when I get 40 years into our relationship.

I love this quote I read online: “Old friends hold a mirror in front of us and allow us to see how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go to be the person we can be”.

How have your old friendships evolved?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Old friends are best friends because they know your history but new friends are also good becuae they help you create history

  2. My best friend and I go back sixty one years shared our family’s and life never a cross word .I don’t know what I would do without her

  3. Lovely look into what makes old friendships tick. So true about selective memory.You do push all the not so good moments to the back of your mind and really savour all the happy memories,and yes they are a mirror,and hopefully you reflect back for them also.

  4. My Best friend was like my best sister. We grew up together then she was taken so young. Before she passed away she rang me to say goodbye. We talked so much of our childhood. I miss her so much but to look back on the beautiful times we had together growing up i will always treasure.

  5. “CLASS of 57″…..
    ST. MARY’S…..

  6. “Girl friend” and I go back 70 years. Lived next door, school days ,first job together so many memories, so much sharing of life’s ups and downs. Still catch up especially his month as our birthdays are just 9 days apart.

  7. I have 2 very old friends dating back to when we were 9 years. each of us is now 86. Even though Ray & Kevin live at Port Stephens & we live at Gosford, we still see each other about once a year or more, & it’s just like a couple of days since we last met. It’s been a fantastic 77year friendship & I sincerely thank them. We also have friends on the Central Coast that are close for 65 years. It’s great to have solid friends.

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