I have been taught or perhaps I just believed that after age 30 I would not make new friends. By that age, college or any formalized education is over and many of us have settled into a relationship with the person who would one day become our spouse, so no need for more friends right? Children, pets, jobs have filled most vacancies in our life and age, with all its wondrous wisdom, has made it nearly impossible to stay up past the 10:00 evening news. Still, apart from work, religious activities, or familial obligations, it is unlikely new faces and thus new friend prospects will enter the friendship pool but is still possible to facilitate new connections with seemingly unlikely candidates.
In the last 20 years I have fostered several friendships with people who I would otherwise never have engaged with because at first glance, we had little in common- different race, age, gender, ethnicity, culture, faith, education level, belief system and in some cases, a vastly different socio-economic class. Yet, I added them to my contacts list and shared my (real) private email address with them. One such friend is an 81-year-old, quick-witted, sometimes irreverent, independently wealthy, devout Catholic white woman from Connecticut, who loves to go on cruises and gamble with the high rollers. Her social calendar rivals that of any 20-year-old, and she is always making and cultivating new friendships. Ms. Peg is a second mother to me and one of the most generous human beings I have ever met. She lovingly refers to me as her friend and one of the daughters she never had. She has even “adopted” my 3 daughters as her granddaughters. I cherish our talks and the stories I’ve heard a million times over, her prayers, on my behalf, to Saint Rita- Patron Saint of the Impossible, the random gifts because of her impulse shopping, the lunch dates where she insists on paying, and the phone calls reminding to do something because her motherly instincts foresaw some evil befalling me.
In the short time I have known her, I have learned how to really live and experience the fullness of life. Ms. Peg has pushed me to follow my wellness journey and chase the proverbial rainbow to see where it ends. When that inevitable day comes when her time here is done, I have no doubt I will continue to hear her voice telling me as she always does, “You’re too smart to be here.” That will be my cue to exit stage left. May you all be so lucky to find your own Ms. Peg.💛
©2023 Tasha D. Manigo-Bizzell