Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friendship: it's a human thing (naming names)

A female friend of mine shared the link below with me recently.

It is a well-written tribute to the power of friendships between women. While I am not the one to denigrate female friendships (I went to a woman's college, for crying out loud, and that has changed my life profoundly), I don't think women are the only gender capable of stepping up and being there when a friend is in need.

I think all the time about the year of Joe D's illness and how indebted I am to the people who helped me navigate my way through. And that group of friends, which included the inimitable alumna of my college, of course, also included many men. So thank you to the women who helped me find an apartment when we needed a place to live that could accommodate my newly wheelchair-bound husband (thank you Andrea and Ilene), the moms from JR's school who organized a playdate schedule and cooked meal after meal for our family (thank you Victoria and the then-second grade moms and the church ladies), the moms who organized the packing party when we needed to move (thank you Suzanne and the second grade moms and the baseball moms), the women who arranged for my laundry to be done (thank you alumna and Anne) and the women who helped me pack the old house and unpack the apartment and then, a year later, pack and unpack again. Thank you to Melanie who used her days off to come give extra physical therapy sessions to Joe D. Thank you to Liz, who was always there to help me negotiate the medical world. Thank you to Joan, who made sure the apartment had a case of beer in it after Joe finally left us.

But while my women friends were right there with me, so were my men friends. There were also dad's from JR's school helping with the packing; other dads taking Joseph to baseball games and soccer games; Steve coming down from NYC once a week to sit with Joe D. in the hospital, in the rehab, in the nursing home, in the hospice; Ric finding tenants for our house and negotiating the lease and dealing with the things that went wrong in the night while the tenants were there; and Lyle bringing Joe that last bottle of cream soda he was craving in hospice. It was our friend Jim who sat with me in the surgical waiting room until 5:00 a.m. not knowing whether the doctors would be able to remove the tumor, not knowing whether Joe D. would ever walk again; it was Billy who took us to Boston for the second opinion and who was there to help negotiate every step of the way with Joe D's family.

And the co-workers who plastered the windows of the City's office building with "GET WELL JOE D." so it could be seen from his room in the rehab hospital? I don't know if they were men or women. I do know that they were friends.

As a mother raising a son, it is important to me that he grow up seeing not only the power of friendships between women, but also the way that men can be friends - to each other and to women. Luckily for me, I know that he will.

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