Sadly, many of my old friends have died, at least those who are really old friends, childhood friends.

I hesitate to call my wife, Marcia, an old friend. We have, however, known each other for 58 years, and have been married for 55. She certainly qualifies. And I don’t think she’ll mind if I offer her up, particularly if I put the emphasis on “friend,” not “old.”

What, though, I asked myself, are the qualities that sustain a friendship long enough to be considered “old”? I guess I’d begin with a like that turns into a love. Not always, particularly when younger, do you need to like someone in order to love them. Young love is often driven by physical attraction. True love, whether young or old, generally evolves from true like. It took about a year for both friendship and love to come together for Marcia and me.

My youngish friend is also an all-star forgiver. I can be a brooder, but Marcia does not hold on to anger. She’s no pushover, but she is quick to let go of anger. Courage and empathy are needed sometimes in order to forgive. I am grateful that my old friend possesses both.

There are no other qualities that come close to loving, liking and forgiving. We are different, Marcia and I, in many ways – I an introvert, for example, and Marcia an extrovert. We, however, have liked and loved for 57 years, and learned to forgive for perhaps half that time – all of which has made for a rich, old friendship.

And no, I know you don’t need to be married to your old friend. I am just lucky that my old friend happens to be my wife.

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