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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

I recently read an article urging people to prepare for retirement by developing long-term friendships with the same fervor they prepare financially for retirement. In essence, friends are a necessity, we need them for survival as much as we need financial stability.

The article I read happened to be about retirement, but the overwhelming need for friends exists for everyone. Shortly after reading this article, I was forced to gain first-hand experience with friends rallying to my side when I needed them the most.

Subsequent post-surgery "down time" provided me the time to ponder my feelings about the friends in my life. Way back in May 1983, I wrote a column on the subject. ( It was included in my book, "McAdoo About Nothing.") A writer should be allowed to revisit a topic every 15 years without being accused of being redundant.

Of course, it would be tragic to face a tough world without enough income. But let me tell you this: all the money in the New York Stock Exchange wouldn't make life worthwhile if one has no real friends. I can't imagine facing tough times alone, without friends; I can't imagine celebrating good times alone, with no friends to share them with.

The column I wrote in 1983 consisted of a list of characteristics by which we can recognize friends. In this one, I'm going to revisit the subject. Friends are everything, They are to me, anyway. Friendships deserve a second Rusty Saber visit.

By friends, I'm mean real friends, not fair-weather friends. Real friends are in for the long haul. They are like pure, unadulterated gold, a rare commodity to be savored to the utmost. Fair-weather friends fade away like wisps of smoke in an otherwise clear sky. They are like a cheap alloy; in the end, not worth much. What are friends?

?Friends would trade places with you during your worst times if it were possible.

?Friends are your friends when you aren't around.

?Friends are your friends when it isn't easy being your friend and when you don't deserve to have friends.

?Friends tell it to you as it is, and you can be sure that's the way it is.

?Friends are there when you need them the most.

?Friends ask how you are doing and they want to know.

?Friends say the same things about you when you aren't present as when you are.

?Friends don't have to say "You can count on me" in order for you to know you can count on them.

?Friends know your deepest secrets and they can be trusted to keep them that way.

?Friends think you are OK, even when you aren't.

?Friends are good listeners; that's how they became friends.

?Friends will tell you when you are making a fool of yourself without making you feel like a fool.

?Friends won't let you down, but they will lift you up.

?All the money in the world can't buy happiness, but friends will provide it at no charge.

?Friends shape our world; if in doubt, try to imagine the shape of the world without friends.

Since I have more friends than I deserve, I delight in all of them. Friends should be prized, exalted and relished. Friends are the substance that holds our lives together. Tell your friends how you feel about them: I just did.

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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