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Saturday, April 8, 2017

On Friendship

On  April 1, 2017, I received the following note from my good friend of 68 years! His name is Peter Fernandez. Doctor Peter Fernandez is a psychiatrist and still in practice at Chennai, India. His work with hypnotic therapy is well-known in India. His residential care for patients with schizophrenia is something to see and learn from. Despite the fact that I decided to settle down in US and he decided to stay in India and work, we have been in continuous contact for all these years. I visit him every time I am at Chennai. He visits me when he comes to US. At one time, he even brought his mother to visit us at Cherry Hill, NJ. My mother and my oldest sister enjoyed his visits always. Yes, our families got close also.

We met at the Loyola College, Chennai in 1949! We bonded immediately. The bond continues. And, how fortunate!

 What made him write the following note, I do not know. But, does that matter? Particularly when it is from a dear friend and about friendship? Peter’s inspirational note about friendship moved me so much, I wish to share it with all of you – and with his approval. Here it is:

“Many years ago, after I got married I was sitting on a couch on a hot, humid day, sipping frozen juice during a visit to my father. As I talked about adult life, marriage, responsibilities, and obligations, my father thoughtfully stirred the ice cubes in his glass and cast a clear, sober look at me.

"Never forget your friends," he advised, "they will become more important as you get older."

"Regardless of how much you love your family and the children you happen to have, you will always need friends. Remember to go out with them occasionally, do activities with them, call them ..."

"What strange advice!" I Thought. "I just entered the married world, I am an adult and surely my wife and the family that we will start will be everything I need to make sense of my life."

Yet I obeyed him; Kept in touch with my friends and annually increased their number. Over the years, I became aware that my father knew what he was talking about.

In as much as time and nature carry out their designs and mysteries on a man, friends were the bulwarks of my father’s life.

After 50 years of life, here is what I learned:

Time passes.
Life goes on.
The distance separates.
Children grow up.
Children cease to be children and become independent. And to the parents it breaks the heart but the children are separated of the parents.
Jobs come and go.
Illusions, desires, attraction, sex ... weaken.
People do not do what they should do.
The heart breaks.
The parents die.
Colleagues forget the favors.
The races are over.
But, true friends are always there, no matter how long or how many miles away they are.

A friend is never more distant than the reach of a need, barring you, intervening in your favor, waiting for you with open arms or blessing your life.

When we started this adventure called LIFE, we did not know of the incredible joys or sorrows that were ahead. We did not know how much we would need from each other. Love your parents, take care of your children, but keep a group of good friends. Dialogue with them but do not impose your criteria.

Dedicated to all my Friends

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