A never-tiring affection
“One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instill faith in times of despair.”
― Bertrand Russell
Those who have been reading this blog for at least a couple of years may recognize that quote, which I’ve used once before. It has been my practice never to use the same quote twice, but today I broke that rule because the quote is so perfect for what I wanted to describe.
You probably also will recognize the three women with me in the photo above. (The lone man is Myra’s son Troy, one of the most cheerful people you will ever meet.) For the third year in a row, Renee, Mitzie and Myra made sure I was not alone for my birthday, which was also Jeff’s birthday.
As always, they showered me with lovely gifts and even lovelier sentiments in the cards they brought me. This year, there was also a special treat in the form of the little birthday “fireworks display” that was brought to our table at the Asian restaurant where we had dinner. I had never seen such a thing before.
It appeared to be a closed lotus flower atop a piece of cake, but when the server lit it, it became sort of a volcano with a flame that shot upward. Then the lotus petals slowly opened outward, each bearing a tiny lit candle, with an embedded music box playing the Happy Birthday song. I wish I’d had my camera to take a video of the whole thing, but Myra caught a photo of how it looked at the end. It was so much fun!
There are many traits we value in our friends: humor, understanding, loyalty and a spirit of fun are among them. But as I grow older, the trait that seems most important of all is the willingness to maintain a steadfast presence in our lives. It’s not always easy to commit time to friends, particularly through years of trials and sorrows. But these women have stayed with me every step of the way.
Through darkest grief, across significant geographical distance, and despite their own full time careers, family demands and dedication to church and community service, my special sisters have gone the distance with me, both literally and figuratively, for many years now. The quote from Russell that appears above could have been written about them. They have given me all the gifts he describes, with the crowning one being “the pure joy of a never-tiring affection.”
My wish for each of us is that we learn to give, and receive, this precious gift.