Ben Sira 6:14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
14 Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.
Finding True Friends
Mike and I were both in our thirties when we met our best friends, Larry and Helen. Mike and Larry were in the tortilla industry; they were competitors, but destiny would change all that. TIA (tortilla industry association) is an organization that brings tortilla manufacturers together, and that’s when we met Larry and Helen. TIA was having a semi-formal event, and, of course, I had nothing to wear. I was in an awkward fashion stage; my choice of designers was between Gunny Sack and Laura Ashely. I heard that Gunny Sack had opened an outlet in Montclair, a city about 45 minutes from my home. I drove to the shop in Montclair, and I will never forget the black glittery dress with a full tulle bottom that I purchased from Gunny Sack. It was an ugly dress from the beginning, but I did not realize it until the day of the event. The dress was so tight that I had to get a girdle, and this undergarment fastened with the old-school hook and eye. Needless to say, this was going make for an interesting evening. Honestly I have never been so fashionably uncomfortable in my life. My new shoes were too tight as well. When I was introduced to Helen, I was tugging at my dress and felt that this stupid undergarment was partly unhooked. Helen was wearing a beautiful suit, her heels matched perfectly, her hair and make-up looked like a professional had just put her together. After our greeting, I mentioned how very uncomfortable I was. Helen gave me an empathetic look, and turned to talk to Larry; that was our first encounter. My first impression of Helen was that of a sophisticated woman who wore feathered, heeled slippers around the house. You can guess what her first impression of me was.
Proverbs 20:6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
6 Many say, “My loyal friend,” but who can find someone worthy of trust?
Mike and Larry
As fate would have it, Mike and Larry were forming a strong bond. Though they were competitors fighting for their tortillas to have the best real- estate on the shelves at the supermarkets, they put all business aside and became great friends. They planned many dinner engagements and attended the same conventions without bringing any strife into their relationship. While other competitors were out to cut your throat, Mike and Larry never displayed this type of behavior; instead they looked out for each other. Larry is gifted with ingenuity, and Mike is a great thinker who will never make a decision without putting it to paper. These two great minds make for a wonderful alliance. Mike and Larry kept personal business to themselves, but always shared advice.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
11 Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.
The Friendship Bond
During our physical and emotional trials, as friends we have always been there for each other. When I broke my leg, Helen took me to my doctor’s appointments. I reciprocated by taking her to her appointments when she needed surgery. We depend on each other for prayer, especially for our children. Our friendship has passed the test of time, and 29 years is proof of that. Love always prevails in a godly friendship because a good friend says the right words when you are hurting.
Proverbs 18:24 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
24 There are friends who bring ruin, but there are true friends more loyal than a brother.
Good Friends Make Bring Joy
A good friend makes you laugh, and by that I mean a good throw-your-head back laughter. Our first trip together was to San Francisco. While Helen and I shopped, Mike and Larry enjoyed Nordstrom’s wine tasting for $4 a glass. The wine was really an expensive brand, so Mike and Larry took advantage of the deal. We went to dinner at a popular Chinese restaurant and Larry ordered so many things from the menu (he still does this). I felt bad to leave so much food, so we had it packed up and gave it to some homeless people.
We have traveled to New York with our friends for many years. I remember on one of our first trips, Larry wanted to go out for dinner, but it was already past 9:00 P.M. I told Mike I was too tired to go to dinner, but Larry insisted on us going. He came to our room and made us go. In protest, I told everyone that I was going to dinner in my pajamas. This is when Larry and I started bumping heads. After three days, the four of us know that Larry and I were going to have disagreements on what we planned to do. Larry always wins, but to this day I still stand my ground. My words, “Why do we always have to do what Larry wants?”
On our first trip to Europe, I arranged accommodations for the hotels. I fell in love with the description of a boutique hotel in Florence, Italy. It was a converted monastery, but when we arrived it was more like a gloomy Bates Hotel. It was so noisy that we could not sleep. I told Mike to please go and complain to the front desk, but the noise got rowdier. Mike went to the room next door to tell them to keep it down. When Mike returned to the room, the countenance on his face had changed. “What in God’s name happened to you?” I asked. Mike could barely describe the trauma he had just experienced. He said that when he knocked on the door, a huge, naked Middle Eastern man answered. The man looked at Mike, and Mike took off running. Thank God Larry took charge, and the following morning we changed hotels and found a really swanky one.
We were having dinner at P.F. Chang’s in Newport Beach 23 years ago, when Helen announced that she had some great news for us. I sarcastically blurted out, “Oh my God, you’re pregnant!” Of course I was just kidding, but Helen was indeed with child. Larry and Helen welcomed their fifth child, Marcus, into the world. Mike and I were so excited to become Marcus’ Godparents. Marcus brought us all closer together. The dynamics of our travels changed and usually included baby Marcus. I had little patience for babies, but Marcus put my heart in the right place. Before Marcus was born, I would make ignorant remark like, “I don’t like babies.” I still am not the cuddly baby type of person. We have participated in most of Marcus’ milestones, and I can say that he is a fine young man. Larry and Helen baptized our granddaughter, Maddie, and Helen sponsored Sonja in her Sacrament of Confirmation.
Protect Your Friendships
For years I prayed for good friends. The Lord wants us to have friends, He speaks about this in the Bible. Friends keep us honest; they make us rethink our decisions. A good friend is hard to find, but when you find one, you must always protect the relationship. In this world of lost, lonely people, friends are extraordinary. I can say I have a hand full of good friends, people that I call on a regular basis for support and prayer. I cherish and protect these relationships because without my friends I would be a lonely soul.