Even though one of their characteristics is a certain ebb and flow, it is important to maintain them lest they be lost, for once completely unraveled, the knitting back into form may be difficult. Constraints of time and various responsibilities will push against their keeping.
From the relationship laughter will result. So will tears.
Jerry and I have been at this one–this friendship–for about 65 years. At least segments of our friendship with the Stevensons and the Hodges have been that long-lasting, for Jerry and Johnny Hodges met when they were still in high school. Our friendships are sterling, and on Friday they drove up from San Diego and spent the night with us.
Nita wasn’t able to come as she had gone to northern California to visit with her sisters. To punish her we almost planned a dinner engagement at her house…but being the sweet friends we are, LaVelta and I had mercy on her and didn’t mark anything on our calendars.
I’m above tattling on anyone, (by name) but the two diabetics in the group refused the sugar-free ice cream and strawberries I had prepared, and licked up instead wide wedges of lemon meringue pie.
Lavelta leaned toward me across the table where we lingered after breakfast on Saturday morning and said,
People like to be appreciated, don’t they?
We talked into the night of our families, our churches, vitamins, and antibiotics. One of the diabetics injected the other with insulin. I grinned. We ate, and drank iced tea and pots of coffee and spoke of Boston and general conferences over the decades, and one rolled his eyes heavenward as he recounted the long waits on the other. Financial reports, board meetings, and the Mary Kay in St. Louis. Jerry and Berl argued about exactly where they were when Jerry prophesied about a certain sort of private matter. We talked about holy living and doctrine and motor homes, and about missing Brother Gray. Lavelta showed me pictures on her phone, and from a table I picked up a picture of Nathaniel and showed her how handsome he is, and I bragged about his goodness. Lavelta spoke with pride of the three Manzano children and how involved in the work of God they are. We talked of progress and of dangerous regression. We asked rhetorical questions and pontificated at length on answers.
We spoke of strokes and of dishes and of souvenirs from our trip to the Philippines, and Berl played with magnets we had bought once on a trip to Silverton, Colorado. We spoke lovingly of Sam and Lil White and I reminded them that Sister Francis had recently celebrated her 100th birthday.
I recalled that from both these men who visited in our home I had heard profound preaching. . . . and I added in Jerry, and excuse me . . . you may want to tune out for a minute, but I knew I was sitting in the presence of three holy exceptional men.
Johnny slept late, and as Stevensons and Jerry and I lingered over breakfast, Berl picked up my Bible which lay close and prepared to read Ephesians 4:32. “This is my life goal now,” he said. “This is how I want to be.” “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
I lined them up on the deck for one last picture. We had prayed inside, our hands joined.