On January 11, 2017

Gifts of friendship

By Marguerite Jill Dye

It is such a blessing to spend time with friends from near and afar. I especially love getting together after months or years and picking up conversations where we left off as if no time has passed. Friends bring out our very best and know and understand us well enough to forgive our transgressions and moods. As a girl without sisters, friends took their place, and the same for my husband, a boy without brothers. Those who have siblings who are good friends, too, are doubly blessed all their days through. Long-time friends from work and life, lift us up in stress or strife. We comfort them in loss and grief, through pain, illness, and injury. We laugh at funny times together, and honor shared history we remember.
A diversity of friendships is enriching regardless of sex, age, race, creed, or ethnicity. My greatest joy from traveling the world is meeting new friends and feeling at home. No matter the nation, the people I’ve found offered love and support with their kind, caring nature.
The cost of friendship can be loss. If only we had a crystal ball to avoid that slippery health slope. It’s unsettling and sad when a crisis occurs, but, thank heavens, at times miracles happen.
My husband and I have reached an age where we’re aware of our mortality. We wonder how many years lie ahead of good health and activity. We’ve gone through the passing of our parents and learned lessons we must remember: to stay as active as we possibly can, eat lots of living, nutritious foods, keep on top of health issues that arise, and have specialists for our weakest links. Since we live in two places and travel, access to our medical records is important. We use travel insurance on trips for emergencies, and I celebrated my most recent birthday with an overdue colonoscopy and endoscopy as my welcome to Medicare.
We’ve put our wills in order but I haven’t signed the living will. I lack confidence in the consistency of quality health care and strangers’ decisionmaking on my behalf. I want to live and I don’t fear death. I believe our souls continue and that we are whole and in divine light when we cross over. After the passing of my mother, Marguerite Loucks Dye, a friend took me to the Spiritualist Center of Light in Sarasota to be comforted by a spirit message.
Spiritualism is the belief that certain sensitive individuals called “mediums” are able to communicate with the spirit world and transmit their messages and guidance to the living. The gift of mediumship is often accompanied by the ability to heal. The medium said that my family was welcoming my mother to the “other side” with a big party. If my family is known for anything, it would be for parties! I’ve received other relevant and timely messages from Mom and Dad and recently from my oldest friend in Vermont. Although it blows my husband’s scientific, analytical mind, he can’t deny the uncanny messages he’s received from his longest-time friend and his father through a gifted medium.
The act of communication with the spirit world has existed since the beginning of time, but the term “Spiritualism” started with Swedenborg in Sweden in the mid-1700s and continued in England, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., then in Hydesville, N.Y., in the late 1800s with the Fox sisters. Another notable case was in Chittenden, Vt., where the Eddy brothers, who came from a long line of mediums, conducted séances, presented physical evidence of the spirit connection, and facilitated hundreds of well documented apparitions or spirit manifestations at a cave near their family farmhouse.
The Spiritualist Movement was so prominent after the death of their son that Mary Todd Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln consulted a medium in the White House whose spirit communications inspired the President’s antislavery policy and the Emancipation Proclamation. Spiritualists also supported the women’s suffrage movement. There were eight million followers of Spiritualism in Europe and the U.S. by the late 1800s. The movement gained popularity after the Civil War and World War I, as people sought comfort and a sign from departed family and friends.
Friends from France just arrived to visit us and stay for a while. We met at a farm stand a few years ago, and since then we’ve met up again and again. They’ve come to Florida and Vermont with us and we’ve stayed with them in Avignon, France. They relish Vermont’s picturesque villages and delight in quiet time spent in nature. We explore French and English intricacies, then politics, marriage, and family. We philosophize at the dinner table. We laugh and cry over life together.
When our discussion turned to health last night, our friend said, “‘Do you smoke?’ is what our doctors ask, then ‘Did you ever smoke?’ they ask us next.” Her very French husband interjected, “After making love we always smoked.” Then he added, “Now we don’t smoke.”
Let’s “laugh and live longer!” (as my mother often said) with our gifts from heaven, our dearest friends.


Photo by Marguerite Jill Dye
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