If you are fortunate enough to have reached an age where you have a lasting friendship that has weathered the years, you will understand Augustine Birrell’s quote “Friendship is a word, the very sight of which in print makes one’s heart warm.”
This is the bond I have with my dear friend, Sherida.
My best friend and I went to a private girls’ school in Brisbane. I remember the first day when we stood apprehensively in the assembly hall, constructed in 1884, as we learnt about the rules and expectations delivered by our very severe Headmistress.
We sneaked a look at the seniors and quivered with nervousness. Nobody smiled, teachers resolute in their determination to mould us into respectable young ladies suitable for worthy marriages, to be humble and grateful for this opportunity to develop in such a genteel environment.
My best friend was good friends with a girl from her primary school. Another two had known each other for years and then a girl from our class and I paired up. It didn’t take us long to join together and become a group of six.
What fun we had sitting on the grassy hill in the sunshine, looking down at the avenue of jacaranda trees.
Or we’d peer across the playing fields to the boys’ school trying to catch a glimpse of the gorgeous fellows in their swimming trunks. We were caught once and escorted to the headmistress’s office. Her admonishing voice was tinged with disgust and we were mortified.
The school years passed remarkably quickly and our group of six disbanded. Three of us remained in close contact with each other and then one abruptly disappeared. We never found out what happened to her. In the ‘60s we tried searching but there were dozens of young women in Australia with the same name.
Which left just us two.
My darling friend and I had lots of fun as teenagers, travelling to Perth and getting into all sorts of mischief.
Life was filled with endless laughter. She stayed in Perth to marry a young man while I married and lived in Canberra, but we still kept in touch.
We celebrated our marriages, the birth of our children, the sad passing of our parents and the intimate subjects that only close friends can discuss. Our trust in each other was, and still is, unwavering, as is our bond.
Even now, one of us will phone the other and the words “I was just thinking of you” will be the first thing that it is said. And we know it’s genuine.
And now she’s tragically widowed I am there for her, as she has been there for me in life’s ups and downs.
We celebrate 60 years of friendship this year. The words of H. Jackson Brown Jr. certainly ring true.
“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.”