This take on friendship is from Bill Shilstone, 81, retired newspaper journalist, Navy veteran and one of Billy’s many tennis victims.
Grandparents are supposed to be role models for grandchildren, but I have a graduating eighth-grader who has taught ME about friendship. He’s only 14, but he has always had more concern for others than for himself. His mother put it in a graduation message to him. (His name is Billy, too.)
“I am so grateful to have been able to watch you win the spelling bee this year. … But you know what made my heart burst with pride was the friendship that you showed to Kathleen, even in the heat and intensity of the final rounds. What was clearly more important to you was to share that experience with a close friend. That is the part of you, Billy, that makes me most proud, and that I see every time I look at you. Your compassion for others, your zest for the joy of life’s experiences, and your ability to engage with others, and make them feel good. Seems to make you feel good too, and that’s quite a gift.”
Where does that feel for friendship come from? I’d say good parenting. But maybe not. Can you teach friendship in a Friendshipology 101 class, or do you either have it or you don’t (nature vs. nurture)?
What could be studied in Friendshipology? Appreciation for all cultures, colors and points of view, of course. How about two years of mandatory public service, as in Peace Corps, Green Conservation Corps, Neighbors Abroad?
Or study Intense Rivalry and Competition. What’s better than watching two top-level tennis players hug at the net after spending hours trying to beat each other? Or spelling bee contestants.
Study Disney. Think of “Never Had a Friend Like Me” from “Aladdin” or “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story.”
Study Mr. Rogers. He’s in a renaissance just now.
BILLY’s NOTES: Bill Shisltone (Bill) and Billy Lee (Billy) are members of a 70 AND-OVER group of tennis buddies who meet twice weekly to test what’s left of their muscles and brains. Billy is a reliable attendant. Bill, however, often could not make it due to his grandchildren baby-sitting duties. Bill is very close to and proud of his grandchildren. In Bill’s article above, I indeed learned most from Little Billy’s mother. Her right words at the right time produce Miracles !