CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

September 20, 2010

Friendship


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

FRIENDSHIP

Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

     The following post was written by my late mother. 

     For me, the word friendship is synonymous with the name Edith.

     Twenty-three years ago I met Edith quite by chance at a Sunday school picnic. Both of us were accompanied by our children—Edith’s three girls, the oldest about twelve and the youngest about seven—and my four, the oldest a girl of five and the youngest a girl almost two.

     I suspect neither of us really remembers what drew us into conversation but, suddenly, there we were, bursting with an eager exchange of ideas, both of us basking in the opportunity to engage in adult conversation. That was the beginning. Although we did not see each other very often in the ensuing months, we were drawn together occasionally at worship services and church activities, through which we developed a genuine liking for one another. Still, with both of us working full time and raising our families there remained little time for socializing and so the development of our relationship was put on hold.

     One needs to know a bit about both of us to understand the need we had for one another’s company, how our personalities blended and complemented each other, as well as the differences that drew us together.

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     Edith is a solid citizen, both feet on the ground, faces reality head on: I am a dreamer, an idealist with a tendency to, at times, back off from reality. At the time I met Edith she seemed painfully shy, projected little self-confidence, felt comfortable blending into the background, and almost successfully covered up her leadership qualities. I, on the other hand, athough somewhat shy, am a bit more outgoing. At that time in my life, I was willing to try almost anything to join the social swim. I had a need to shine.

     Edith is of German background, is practical by nature, and has a sharp, no-frills, problem-solving mind. She sets goals for herself and allows nothing to get in the way of achieving those goals. In addition, Edith is of a kind nature which extends to helping others realize their goals.

     I am a blend of Lithuanian, French and English, by nature somewhat impractical, set goals for myself but allow the needs of others to get in the way of accomplishing those goals. Problem-solving, although interesting enough, is not my strong point. I lean toward the esthetic.

     One would think that with such opposing personality traits the opportunity for developing a friendship would be almost nonexistent. However, I believe the catalyst in the seeds of our friendship was a mutual understanding and healthy respect for the negative traits in our personalities—Edith’s fear of the dark, fear of the inner city, her tendency to judge herself too harshly, the “what will the neighbors think” syndrome. Coupled with my fears of driving, of flying, of being evaluated and found wanting, an innate need to please everyone—the blending of these negative qualities does appear to be an odd method of developing and cementing a relationship. However, develop and cement we did.

     Lest one get the impression that it was only our negative qualities keeping our friendship alive, we shared many common interests. Indeed, many hours were spent sewing together and, playing cards with one another, along with other friends. We enjoyed dining in nice restaurants and going to the movies and the theater. Since my husband and Edith had a strong liking and respect for one another, we enjoyed combining our families at informal dinners and picnics.

     Never, through anyone else—family or friend—have I received as much support and encouragement as I received from Edith. Whenever my spirits lagged—be it in constructing a garment that was not going well, family problems, problems with self-esteem, etc.—Edith was always a willing listener. With just a few simple words Edith could bring me down to earth, bolster my spirits, and dispel my feelings of self-doubt and guilt. It was through her strong support and belief in me that I was encouraged to get back into school and get my degree.

     Edith is the friend who is quietly at hand during times of grief and tragedy. And she is the friend who is energetically on the spot to share in joyous occasions.

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     I met Edith after her husband had died, leaving her with three small children. She was young and practical, took a job in the office of an insurance company, and, with very little help from her parents, successfully raised her three girls, seeing them through college and marriage.

     Her faith in God was self-evident. She worshipped regularly at our church and was involved in many of its activities. She quietly, without fanfare, ministered to those who demonstrated a need. For both of us, our need for being included in social functions was provided through our church activities.

     There were times when Edith and I saw each other weekly and then there were times when we were separated for several months at a time. However, these separations changed nothing in our relationship. We reunited, and it was as though we had just seen each other yesterday.

Up to this point, I (Cynthia, my mother’s third child in her second marriage) have been copying this story from a second draft Mom had done. However, this is as far as she completed the second draft. I will continue the rest of this from the first draft.

     I watched Edith go through college, graduate at 49, and rise up in her company to become an officer. She has grown. Her feet are more firmly planted on the ground but her personality has expanded and she no longer tries to blend into the background.

     Yes, we are both different people than when we launched our friendship 23 years ago. Part of that difference is the intangibles we have given to each other. We have transcended the petty jealousies, the feminine competitions, and in their stead each one of us has concentrated on making herself worthy of the friendship of the other.

     Edith and her three girls, I might add, became as much a part of my family as though they were born into it. I would fight to the death anyone who would disparage Edith, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Edith would take this same stand.

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     Ours is unique friendship. It is not dependent on seeing one another daily or even talking with one another daily. We do not think alike nor do we share all of the same feelings. We do not even like the same colors or music or books. We do like each other and we do share our best thoughts and feelings. We do encourage and support the most positive aspects of each other’s personality and make every effort to overlook or understand the negative side of each other. We do respect one another’s decisions, even though we may not agree—and through the years we have been careful not to express an “I told you so” attitude.

     Outside of raising children and being members of the same church, the only thing we had in common when we first met was our avid love for crossword and jigsaw puzzles. But that seemed to be enough to get us started.

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     I feel that the following addition should be made to Webster’s definition of friendship—“a giving of oneself.”

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ADDITIONAL READING:

My Childhood Home: 29 Spring St., Portsmouth, N. H.

Coffee Hour at “Echoes on the Lake”

Three Women Wildly Battle With UNO Cards

Enoch Arden and Louis des Isles: Story Plots

The Isles of Shoals: Beauty, Mystery, Intrigue

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