“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
When I was a child, I thought this saying meant that if someone needs you, that person is a real friend. Later, I discovered what the writer really meant: One’s truest friends are those who are there for you when you need them.
Methinks it works both ways. Friends help each other, in times of trouble or just in anxious moments. Producing a book and waiting for it to hit the marketplace is one long, drawn out anxious moment. Sensing this, several friends kept in touch regularly.
Some, like Keith, had read every one of my feature stories in Arabella Magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper. Sometimes, having read one of my funny stories, he’d telephone me, still laughing. Reading about the time I found myself spending time in a convent of silent nuns (nuns always scared me) was, to Keith, almost as hilarious as the time I found myself diligently tending a crop of marijuana, and seriously praying they wouldn’t die before their owners came home.
“I can hardly wait for your book,” Keith told me often.
Another good friend was my daughter Lauren. A gifted storyteller herself, she was the first person who read the stories that would become chapters in A Good Home.
“Oh, Mom,” she said often. “Don’t worry. It’ll be great!”
Dale, Jean and Kamala-Jean said much the same. How comforting it was to receive such words of optimism!
My Bhuddist friend Leonie sent me a mantra to chant: Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Ever the skeptic, it took me a while to try it, but I did. Angela, Sheila, Lucia, Valerie, my siblings and church friends simply prayed for me as we counted down to the release date of the book. Both were comforting.
Eva, whom I’d first met back when we both worked the night shift as telephone operators at Bell Canada, called to announce that she and her friend Delores planned to host a “book party” for me in Eva’s charming home in east end Toronto.
“Wha-at?” I asked.
“Yes, a book party,” Eva repeated, as if this was the natural order of things.
Collecting my wits, I called her back later to say “thanks” and offered to bring some food and drinks to the party.
“You are to do nothing,” she ordered. “Just show up!”
And so Eva and Del hosted a group of their friends ( knowing Eva, she might even have ORDERED some of them to attend) with food, drinks, and readings from A Good Home.
Very few of their guests knew that I tremble inside when I have to do a reading. But then I remembered: these are Eva’s and Del’s friends. I’m in good hands. So I pretended to be brave.
Thank you, Eva and Del and friends, for welcoming me – and A Good Home – with such warmth and kindness.
Someone once said that a home’s best ornaments are the friends that visit. I think the same can be said about a life well-lived. Friends lift our spirits. Friends help you to believe in yourself at times of anxiety. They even help you to stand up straight, get the words out, and look half-intelligent.
A friend in need is a friend. Indeed.
Great thanks to all my friends.