Exactly how do you define a friend?

By Bill Shepard

“Make some new friends, keep the old; one is silver, the other is gold.” I read the above lines from a frame hanging on the wall at my sister’s house. When I gave thought to writing this article about friends and friendships, the lines appeared in my mind. The subject is one that has been visited by many writers and in many ways, but never by me; read on! When I began this article, I looked for some definitions of the words friend and friendship. I have a feeling that the words have been misapplied often. Here are some quotations and definitions that I found. Friendship: The bond of affection that exists between two unrelated individuals. –William Penn A plant of slow growth. — George Washington The only way to have a friend is to be one. — Ralph Waldo Emerson A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend. –Henry Thoreau Enough of that! I heard a statement made many years ago and it made such an impact on me that I have never forgotten it and questioned it many times. The speaker, speaking of friends, said that it was a very rare person who could boast of having as many as five friends in a lifetime! He went on to say that it would be an unusual man who had four friends in a life’s span. He followed by saying that he was a lucky man who had three or even two friends in a lifetime. He then ended his speech by saying that all of us have one friend. He then quoted from the Bible the following words – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend!” — John 15:13 KJV I am in agreement with the latter. I read once of a young man who found himself a long ways from home, penniless, hungry, and in need of a place to stay. He called his father, hoping to get a helping hand. After explaining his direful condition he waited for his father’s response. The father responded with the following words: “Son, go out immediately and make some friends!” Just recently I heard someone say that friends are better than riches. Perhaps that is what the father was referring to. I have found that often I use the word friend when I am actually referring to an acquaintance! There is a difference! In my long life’s journey I have made thousands of acquaintances and appreciate them all; they have lent a helping hand many times. What would I have done without them? I suppose I am one of those very rare men spoken of earlier, for I believe I have five friends, even more! In recent times I have proven them and they have lived up to my definition of the word friend. A true friend is a person who will lay aside his or her own plans in order to assist me in my own. They say to me, “If you need me, call me, and I will come.” Some years ago while I was still living in Florida, I would come to Piedmont and work on building my present home there. I was a stranger to the man who lived next door to my house. One day while working outside the man came to where I was working, introduced himself and we shook hands. After talking a few minutes he turned to leave. Again he held out his hand and we shook hands again, then he spoke. “Mr. Shepard,” he said. “If you ever need anything, before you go to the store and buy it, let me know what it is; there is a good chance that I have it, and you are welcome to it.” Wow! That man became a true friend. I could not tell you the times that I have called on him. He was a skilled craftsman, carpenter and I never called on him once and found him too busy to lay aside what he was doing and to answer my call. Not one time would he allow me to compensate him for any of his favors! That man died recently, after more than 25 years of being my friend. I miss my friend!

Author: Stephan Drew

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