Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Real Friend

Once, and only once, I played the Easter Bunny at the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.  During my rather uncomfortable afternoon as the iconic big-eared fellow, I had to constantly keep reminding myself that I had indeed volunteered for the assignment.  After the hunt for the eggs was over and all the little bunny fans had gone home for their naps, happily carrying their baskets of chocolate eggs, I was finally free to go. Unfortunately, in my size twenty rabbit feet and my three foot rabbit head, I could not exactly drive myself.  This duty fell to my suspiciously too eager chauffeur, The Songwriter, who simply could not resist this delicious opportunity to show me off to friends and family.  My protestations were futile, and we were off, soon passing by the home of a favourite neighbor, an elderly lady who was kneeling in her front garden, planting red geraniums.  We pulled in the driveway, The Songwriter giggling, and I struggled out of the car, stood up to my full Easter Bunny height and waved my platter-sized Easter Bunny hand.  She glanced over her shoulder nonchalantly and, in the most unimpressed voice one could possibly imagine, simply said, 
“Oh, hi Pamela.” 
I mean, really?  Just “Oh, Hi”?  She didn’t even require an explanation as to who this was?  The life-long, well-tended image of myself as a woman of elegance and decorum evaporated like the morning dew.  She did not even pretend to be surprised to see me dressed up as a ten foot rabbit.  And I loved her for it.

I attended this wonderful lady’s funeral a few days ago, just one week shy of her ninety-fifth birthday.  I had to smile when the speaker, an elderly man himself who had known the lady for years, told of the time when, tired of the slow and inevitable process of going bald, he had decided to shave his head.  Everyone told him how “wonderful” he looked, although he knew pretty well that the mirror disagreed with this flattering assessment of his new visage.  Only one friend, the lady in question, told him the truth when she declared, 
“Lord, Albert.  What did you do to yourself?  You look positively awful”.
  As everyone in the church laughed, he added, 
“You know, I always knew I could trust her after that.  A real friend is someone who will tell you the truth.”

 Now, I certainly do not hold with those who, seemingly unencumbered by the virtue of tact, simply spout harsh opinions willy nilly to any and all ears.  These people can be hurtful at worst, annoying at best.  I do however, know the value of a good friend - most often an old friend - who will tell you the truth.  She is the one who will quietly let you know you have lipstick on your teeth or a snag in your stocking.  He is the one with whom you can argue, who never demands your allegiance to his opinions - a bit of a rarity in this polarized age.  She is not afraid to tell you she did not care for the book that you loved; the two of you can discuss it freely.   A friend such as this will let you know if they think you are about to make a wrong choice.  And they will always defend you to others.  Their honest criticism makes the praise they bestow all the sweeter, for one feels more comfortable believing it.

How sweet it is to have friends such as these, and even sweeter when one's spouse is such a friend, as mine is.   It makes life so much more pleasurable. While they could never be as devoted as Edward, (who could?) I do feel most fortunate in my friends and I wish the one recently departed a sweet and peaceful rest.

For more on my Easter Bunny escapade, including incriminating pictures, read HERE.