Facebook brings old friends together
It is my new habit to stay inside if the weather is bad. However if this goes on too long then I get restless and bored. That is what happened to me in the winter of 2016. The cure was Facebook. I started looking for people I had known in the late 1970s, back when I was juggling a lot of different balls, such as being a single mom, working for low income with friends and family.
My natural curiosity had me wondering what happened to two women friends and one guy. Talk about finding a needle in a haystack! Finding women is the hardest because last names may have changed over the years. Personally I had two name changes through marriage and the last name change by choice.
I'll start with the guy. Most likely his last name would be the same and his first name was unusual. I found a man with same name but he was too young. Could he be the son?
What to do? I decided to check this man's friends. Jackpot! I found my old friend and he was the dad. I had a link and sent out a friend request to George (not his real name). Several months went by with no reply from George.
Then I moved on to the two women friends. By this time, I was a bit smarter and I remembered their children's names. Annie (not her real name) answered right away. By looking over her Facebook page I could tell the she probably spends some time on it posting things. Actually, the majority of my Facebook friends do the same.
Annie and I are now friends on Facebook. Then I checked her friends and found Molly (not her real name). Her latest post was on an eagle that was sitting on an egg. It was pretty fun to watch for the birth and the new baby bird was darling.
It's easy to spend too much time on Facebook. The solution for me was to decide that I would only check my friends once a month. The second choice I made was to use Facebook to post my articles, and a few family photos.
Several months go by. A big rain storm blows in and I am inside with time on my hands. This time I try another tactic with George. I included my name from the 1970s and my phone number. This was the key and I got a reply.
A couple of weeks go by. One evening the phone rings and it is George. What a pleasant surprise. We talked for a good hour going down memory lane. He told me that he has three adult children and two grandkids. He sounded so happy talking about them. I told him that my son was in his 40s and had a son of his own. We said we should get together. He lives in Washington State. He thought this was pretty odd that for the last 20 years or so we were only a six hour drive away from each other. During the next few months we had a couple more calls. Then nothing for months.
Now it is late fall. There's another big storm coming and I know that I may be stuck inside again. Perfect time to plan a few trips for the next year. I thought that I would like to go to Washington in May. I wanted to see the Olympic National Park again, then drive up to Port Angeles to visit George for a few days. Maybe stop at Sou duc Hot Springs, one of my favorite places to soak.
I called and left a message on a Saturday. No return call. Later that week, I was doing my monthly Facebook check. On his page, his daughter had posted that he had passed that afternoon. His three children were with him. He had stage four cancer. He was 63. Pretty shocking to me. I went to The Grotto to light a candle. And later I grieved.
His family planned a celebration of life and I thought about going to Washington but the reality was it felt awkward to me to meet his family and friends without him.
It is sad that George and I never got the opportunity to become friends in our old age. I bet we both would have enjoyed that.
This is the part of aging that I dislike the most: losing friends.
Many years ago, I bought a Maplewood three-tiered plate shelf. It has been upcycled. Its new purpose is for holding framed photos of my friends who have passed. When I look at their photos I smile and remember our friendship. They will always have place in my heart.
Kathryn Kendall is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.