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I was so delighted this week to get a call from a friend I hadn’t seen in months who said she was in town and wanted to catch up. She’s twenty-fiveish, but I’m fifty-sixish. We spent New Year’s Eve together a few years ago that stands out as one of the best because she and my daughter and I stayed up all night watching different “Pride and Prejudice” movies! The point is, she’s half my age but still wants to say hello and spend a few hours together.

Now I know it might sound good to live to be 100 but I am not sure I want it for myself. My grandmother was 96 and alone in a nursing home far from family at the end of her life. She said she wanted to be near the ocean, but really her immobility and lack of visitors reduced this to only a dream. Her husband had died over ten years before, her friends were gone or in other nursing homes and her three children were estranged from each other and her. My grandma was quite alone.

My husband and I visited her with our three young children a few times a year, but more than that I found it easier to keep our friendship alive via phone. We had plenty of chats about books we’d read and places we’d been. But once grandma surprised me by bringing up her loneliness. She told me something I have never forgotten because her circumstances made it quite clear how valid it was.

Her message was to actively, during my lifetime, make friends with young people. She told me to cultivate friendships with those who are younger than me in order to keep myself young, and in order to have friends when I am old and infirm.

So my out-of-town friend who visited this week, and the former babysitter friends who I see raising their own children now, some neighbors I really appreciate, a few nieces and nephews, and my own children, all constitute the friends I hope to still have around when I am old and gray and have earned the privilege of their company when I cannot get to their doors anymore.

So thank you dear friend for stopping in to visit this week, and hoping I make it worth your while so we might remain friends a long long time.