“Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.” Aristotle
I’ve been a loner most of my life. Up until the end of high school I had several friends, all from the neighborhood, but no close friends. After high school we each went our separate ways, never seeing or hearing from each other again.
For the next twenty years I’ve had friends here and there. These were acquaintances that became friends who enjoyed each others company. As before, we parted ways never to talk again.
The next fifteen years were different. We settled down in one place and I formed several close friendships with two people at work. They became more like sons to me rather than just friends.
On the home front new friendships developed that seemed to last the test of time. It helped that we didn’t move away. The friendships, which began as family as a result of our marriage, grew and for once I began to experience a feeling I never had before towards others: a warmth that develops when friends are there.
We had many a barbeque at the house, entertaining almost every week. These were good friends who stood by us. In fact they counted on us. When one needed to renovate part of his house I gladly answered the call for help. As we prospered, so did our friendships. It is something that everyone needs to experience in order to truly appreciate life.
No matter who called, we were always there to help anyone in need. When a friend’s car died, I was there with tools to get it going again even though it meant missing some important meetings. When a baby was born, we were there from the time they went into the hospital until the baby was born and everyone was safe and sound. When someone needed company, and a car, for a four hour car ride we were there.
During that time we never really needed anything from our family and friends. When I was admitted to the hospital for chest pain, I understood that a 90 minute drive was too much for anyone to make and the three days in the hospital went by quickly enough. When I was held in jail overnight for an outstanding traffic violation warrant that I knew nothing about, I understood when no one was able to bring bail money on a Sunday night, since they all had work the next day.
When I got laid off from work after 28 years, they were all there with words of advice. As the unemployment continued, their visits began to lessen. They’d call and give us words of sympathy but that was about it. When our son needed help fixing his house, no one answered the call for help. No one even showed up to his home coming celebration. As our situation got worse, the friends became scarcer and scarcer, not even making an attempt at false sincerity.
So now as I sit here, a month away from giving up this house we made our home of 15 years to the bank, I’ve come to realize they were never really friends. Oh they were good friends when I could do things for them, but when I had nothing to offer and needed their help, they were nowhere to be found. It hurt my wife even more because they are her family.
I know we’ll survive this, that I’ll find another job eventually, but in a way I’m glad this happened. Its made us realize who our friends really are. It’s made us realize that we have each other, and our children, to count on and that’s about it.
It’s made us realize that misfortune really does show those who are not really friends.