Thursday, January 20, 2011


Straits Times - 19 Jan '11
I was touched reading about Chia Chwee Leong and former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew's 70-year friendship. They were the best of friends while studying at Raffles Institution and Raffles College, but lost contact after World War Two when LKY left for further studies in the UK. Upon his return in 1949. LKY took the trouble to get in touch with Chia and renew their friendship. For the last 40 years, he has made it a point to visit Chia on the second day of the Chinese New Year for a chat over a glass of water. That is true friendship. 

As I think of friends from the old days, I wonder how many of us can honestly say we have made attempts to keep in touch? It doesn't help either that as we age, the memory of dear old friends fades with each passing year.

"Make new friends, don't forget the old.
One is silver, the other is gold."

Remember those lines? We used to write them in our classmates' autograph books as a reminder to keep in touch after high school. Sadly, we can now recall only a few faces and even fewer names. And when we finally make contact, it is to learn that a former classmate has passed on, another is battling cancer and yet another is suffering from Alzheimer's. Fortunately, there are friends who are still hale and hearty, and enjoying their second prime of life.

As we move into our retirement years, some of us may find ourselves living alone. Our spouse may no longer be with us, and our children have long left the family nest. Good friends provide an important support system that keeps us going. They help to fill the void. They are our travelling companions, partners-in-adventure, and pillars of strength in our times of need.

Me and Kemmy on New Year's Eve - friends for more than 30 years! Our children have become firm friends as well.
Having friends is good for our mental health too. Much as I enjoy my moments of solitude, I can't imagine a life where I have only myself or my cat for company. Loneliness can slowly develop into depression over the years. And that is something I want to avoid like the plague!

The next time you get an invitation to a class reunion or a small get-together of former school buddies, don't turn it down. At our age, who can tell when we will ever get another opportunity to rekindle old friendships again. 

Here's to OLD FRIENDS everywhere.

No comments: