Helen Row Toews
“Of all possessions a friend is the most precious” – Herodotus
Born around 484 B.C., Herodotus was a Greek writer, philosopher, and perhaps the first historian. He is remembered for his written accounts of historical events and human achievements. However important that is, one of his most famous quotes concerns friendship, and I couldn’t agree more. Of all the wealth we may acquire or the belongings we may own, the companionship of one true friend exceeds it all.
I’ve been blessed to have several close, treasured friends. I met two of them today outside a cemetery. No, I wasn’t there to choose a plot for my final resting place (thanks for asking). I had merely pulled my bus over to the gates, on the side of the road, because I saw Gwen driving toward me. Then, another bus pulled in behind, and Donna hopped out. We had a lovely visit near the graveyard.
Of course, as often happens when a bus is stopped at the side of the road, people stop. Unsure of what’s happening, they lean anxiously over the wheel, squinting through the window, waiting for small children to scamper across the road on their way home to…what? The cemetery? Sheesh, people, surely not that.
Friends call when you’re going through hard times and offer encouragement when you feel at the end of your rope. They console, caution, counsel, and tell you when ketchup is stuck to your cheek. They eat fattening treats with you (often entire coconut cream pies) and accompany you on road trips and shopping excursions.
Sometimes they even wear crash helmets with you and hunch in the passenger seat of your old car when you’re both young and stupid and decide on a whim to roll a vehicle for the insurance money.
*Disclaimer: I hereby issue a blanket statement of apology to all law enforcement members. However, this particular incident occurred over 40 years ago, and the statute of limitations has long since passed. Therefore, I refuse to be held morally or ethically responsible for my foolish seventeen-year-old-self. (Besides, it didn’t work.)
Sometimes, beloved friends can, by mere association, get you in trouble. Over the Easter break, I drove to Manitoba to see my friend Esther. Upon exiting a business, three large dogs from next door began a frenzied barking. Ferociously, they flung themselves at the flimsy fence that contained them, their deep, resonant woofs ricocheting off buildings, drowning out every other sound in a quarter-mile radius. They acted as one in their single-minded determination to rid the neighbourhood of our loathsome kind.
BARK! BARK! BARK!
“Oh shut up, you stupid idiots!” Esther shouted back at them as she navigated a set of stairs on her way to the car. Little did she know the owner stood proudly among the slavering beasts. He took a threatening step forward, waving a fist in our general direction. Hastily, we hopped into the vehicle and sped away.
Friends accept you unconditionally, love you despite your flaws, and commiserate with you when you whine about advancing age and the debilitating ills of lumbago. Actually, I don’t even know what lumbago is, but it sounded fancier than saying I have a plain old bad back.
To sum it up, rich is a person who has a friend. I hope you have many.
To contact Helen or learn more about her books including her two new sweet romances, go to helentoews.com.