It’s a tradition to take time the end of every January and gather the Christmas cards for a last, fond look.
I treasure the people that continue year after year to announce their greetings along with family letters. The effort tells me that they still care. I do not feel guilt at using email, but I applaud the people that take the time and effort to support the old ways.
While so engaged, I came across a card I had failed to fully enjoy on first presentation. It was from a couple that we have shared our lives, and secrets with, for over 40 years. But it was opened in haste containing, I have since discovered, a letter which turned out to be a true gift of our shared history – a letter that my wife had penned to our close friends more than 40 years ago!
It was to advise of our safe arrival in Australia, our life as immigrants, newlyweds, and the future that we had before us. My wife described our new lives, and how we had rented a large home, fully furnished, one block from the ocean for the huge some of $88 per month. Heat not included!
If she had been able to view the future she would have been sad to note that after three years of trying not to, I was forced to admit to health problems. The doctor’s ultimatum was blunt, go home to Canada, or die of skin problems in Australia.
The passage of time cannot be catalogued in one letter. There is no avenue to display the calendar of life’s treasures and sorrows. The arrival of all our children, not without difficulties. Each one a gift shared to astonished young parents, prideful, promising, and defiant, in the perfection of renewal. We were to know personal loss, death, and the curse of creation. We were allowed as young adults to make absurd challenges to the world without paying the price. We had monetary stability, good health, and the self confidence of the young. Through it all our friendship remained, often neglected, some times abused, relegated to a matter of convenience, but never forgotten.
As our world aged and changed so did our fortunes. There were the usual childhood illnesses, broken bones, braces, plaster, stitches, and a variety of skin conditions, dots and pigmentation. For the most part our children remained free of skeletal illness, their main failings were the often repeated seizures, heartaches, and sleepless nights, inflicted upon their parents.
Time has generated many letters, worried calls in the evening, and expressions of endearment, unexpected, and therefore always treasured. As new fathers, family men, and aging husbands we have been granted the time to savour our youth, learn from experience, and live well enough to pass some of the instincts to our children. Time has taught us the responsibility of family, and the value of our wives.
Becoming adults is a growth of awareness and responsibility. The gift of true friendships has allowed us to share this experience, grow in its laughter, and cry in the safety of our bonds.
I do not know how to present to my sons the value of real friendship. I am still learning myself. I do know that people have the strength of thousands when they are armed with friendship. That life’s passing can be much more pleasurable and less painful when lived in the realm of friends.
I do know that the single most valued human emotion is not love, but truth. Living to this aim is a life lesson, that can only be learned through friendship, and time.
Tony Vincenzi is a writer living in Terrace. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.