Real Friends Are Forever
We Make Friends All The Time
Real friends are forever. We make new friends throughout our lives, especially when we are young. From kindergartens to universities (colleges), later from work places, and from people we cross paths, in later part of our lives. The most common path is that of being neighbours. My wife and I were very fortunate to have caring and friendly neighbours in the two separate places we lived in, during the 80s. One couple became real friends. For real friends are forever. This is the story of our relationship with this loving and unassuming couple, with their equally well-behaved four children, two boys and two girls.
Have You Lived Through Life
When you have lived through the years like me, your perspective in life becomes more realistic. I have lived through life mostly with experiences of hopelessness and despair. During my younger years, life for my wife and me was quite happy and meaningful, especially when we were engrossed in raising two adopted children. My wife dedicated full time in bringing up our two adopted children, one girl and one boy, just perfect. Both friends and relatives knew we treated our children as little precious possessions with very high hopes for their future and indirectly our future too. Unfortunately the future was not to be. That would be another story. I suppose all parents will feel the same. But for us, our friends and relatives saw through our actions that we were very special to these two lucky children. Never mind; this article is about "real friends are forever". So we shall concentrate on this subject.
In the 80s, we were a young family. So were all our neighbors. Most of our neighbors were about our age group, with little children running around. So we naturally had similar interests especially on raising children. With children occupying the center of attention, it was natural that we, as good neighbors would make more effort to stay connected. Children's birthdays were good reasons to give invitations to birthday parties. And in this, we were specialists, for every year, we would invite those friendly neighbors with their children to have a good and happy time with us. Chinese Lunar New Years were no exceptions. We would invite our relatives and neighbors to our happy gatherings.
It was from those regular opportunities to gather around our house, that we kept in good touch with our neighbor friends, even though we might have moved to a new location. One such neighbor friends was this family who lived a few doors away from our house. They were to remain our real friends forever; for real friends are forever.
The Happiest Family I Have Ever Seen
I often felt with awe, meeting very good-natured people. These people never lost their temper, or at least I never saw them got angry. To add the cherry on top, they always had smiles on their faces. If you met a couple with such amiable traits, you should consider yourself a lucky person. Was I lucky then, when I saw this couple walking pass my house one day. We had just moved into our new house in this new housing estate, called Bukit Maluri, in Kepong. It was in the early 80s. (By the way, for the benefit of my foreign readers, this place is in the suburb of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia.) Everyone was new in this housing area, So I assumed that most new residents would be eager to make new friends out of new neighbors. There was another gentleman who made the special effort to approach me at my house gate to shake my hand and to introduce himself. I was pleasantly surprised, which made me a bit embarrassed because I did not make the first approach.
Oh yes, coming back to this couple who were walking passed my house. On seeing them, we greeted them with a smile, and started the usual small talk, which eventually led to lively conversation. They pointed to us where their house was and invited us to pay them a visit. Sure we were thrilled. By the way, "we" means my wife and I. At that time. there were only two of us, a very young and inexperienced couple. This friendly couple looked more senior than us.
One Thing Led To Another
As days went by, one thing led to another. The always-smiling fatherly neighbor was Clarence, and his ever-cheerful wife was called Ros. Together they had four children, two girls and two boys. They were one very humble, accommodating and happy family. When we brought our new member home, a 6-month old adopted daughter, we had more reasons to associate with all the members of this extraordinary family. Their house was three houses away from ours. So it was very convenient to drop in and say hello. Their youngest daughter was at that time big enough to even carry our baby daughter, So one thing led to another. We all had a wonderful time together. When I was admitted to the hospital, they offered to take care of our daughter, while my wife could look after me. That was so beautiful of them. Real friends cut across all barriers, be it race or religion. We had no problem at all. Ros is a Muslim, Clarence is Eurasian with Irish roots. And we are Chinese. Despite all these outward differences, we have been real friends all this time. And real friends are forever.
"Itchiness" A Pesky Habit
I remember when I was in school, a teacher was telling the story about "itchiness". He said "itchiness" was a habit. If you like to scratch your body, you will forever be scratching the different parts of your body. He also used it metaphorically to describe nature of stealing. If one be habitually pinching little things, one would end up stealing bigger things. This is "itchiness"! "Itchiness" here means the itch to do something. All my life, in this context, I was suffering from "itchiness"! The "itchiness" of looking for greener pastures the other side of life. Now in my twilight years I realized how foolish I had been, and how color blind I was. Actually I am technically color blind with red and green, whatever that means I never knew. From the standard "color chart" test, I consistently was diagnosed as red and green color blind. But I can swear by my grandmother's grave that I can differentiate between red and green! Never mind. Coming back to greener pastures; whenever life seemed to have settled down, my "itch" would be to find "greener" pasture somewhere. So I decided to move house. This time to Subang Jaya, the other side of town. And this would be yet another story where we made other real friends.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder." With a small distance separating us, we made it a point that Clarence and family would always be invited to our house gathering for birthdays and festivals like the Chinese lunar new year. Then another "itch" started, and we moved to Auckland, New Zealand. Now I know why all my real friends and relatives were so disappointed with me and my "itchiness disease". Itchiness never stops, just like what my teacher warned. After a few years making a fool of myself in Auckland, I decided to return to home base, that is, the beautiful island of Penang. And here I am, in the state of Penang, but on the mainland. Oh no, now I am moving again!! But not due to "itchiness" this time. That is another story. You can read about this in my other article after you have finished reading this.
Real Friends Are For Ever
Real friends Are Forever
I have come full circle, both my life and my life's journey. All these years were preoccupied with affairs of family problems. Along the way, we had also lost our friends, including our real friends. Then out of the blues, Ros called my wife, after so many years. Although we still kept in touch, it was only those occasional short phone calls. But this time they were coming to Penang to look up a very sick old relative. For logistic convenience, Ros asked whether she and Clarence and his sister could put up a night with us. We were delighted. So that's how we met again after more than 25 years.
We Shall Meet Again
Their stay was just an overnight affair. Their relatives wanted them on the island. So we did not insist that they stay with us longer. However, this time we insisted that Clarence and Ros must come back soon to renew our bond of real friendship. Ros promised that this time, she would definitely return soon with Clarence and her two grownup daughters to see us in Penang. Please don't disappoint us Ros. We are waiting eagerly for your return visit; this time make sure you stay longer with us.
Happy And Humble Gentleman Never Ages
Happy And Humble Lady Never Ages
Happy People Never Age
I often wrote about the fact, happy people don't age. This is very true. Both Clarence and Ros are always happy. I never saw them angry or unhappy. They are the most wonderful couple I have ever seen. This I believe; because of their good-nature and happy disposition, Clarence and Ros have not aged a bit. Clarence is 79 years old, and you can guess Ros's age although she is younger than Clarence by many years.
To prove my point, please take a look at the photos for comparison on the right. As for me, I have lost 90% of my hair! Need I say more about myself?
Copyright © Justin Choo. All Rights Reserved.
A Special Message For Real Friends
" Keep smiling and keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for
In good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for"
From the chorus of "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwick