Dear GUCI Staff:
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my Uncle Roy Levy. He wasn’t really my uncle; I just called him that. He was my father’s best friend. Roy and Arnie (my dad) grew up together in Chicago and remained the closest of friends for over fifty years. The two of them were like night and day, personality-wise, but so enjoyed each other’s sense of humor and companionship. They were inseparable, and I might add, lucky to have each other.
The Talmud teaches us that a good friend is a treasure more valuable than gold. As time marches on, I have come to understand that thought more and more. It is so easy to make friends and have friends when you are in school or in camp, when you’re a kid. But it is much harder when life separates you from people, by filling your time with career and family. The funny thing is that, as with most things, we don’t appreciate what’s happening to us and around us until we miss it. How many of us take our friendships for granted, almost as if they were guaranteed to us? Then life takes us away from each other and we realize a loss.
As art imitates life, I think about many of the famous pairs of friends I’ve come to know through my television set and movie screen. Norton and Kramdon, Stan and Ollie, Lucy and Ethel, Butch and Sundance, Dobie and Maynard, Thelma and Louise, Letterman and Schaefer, even Rocky and Bullwinkle live on through the years because of their special relationships. Sure these characters entertain us as we laugh or cry at their particular trials and tribulations. We relate to the stories they tell us in their weekly episodes, their humor and pathos. But these couples really live on in our hearts because above all else they remain friends. Their friendship is always stronger than the plot. When all is said and done, and the credits roll, we know that the friendships live on.
I know that we are, for the most part, friendly people and, as such, cultivate many relationships. But, how many really close friendships are we allotted in our lifetime? Not too many. I’m not talking about the “Hi, how are you, what’s new?” kind of friend. I mean the person who really knows you, who you can count on, talk to about the real thinks, get mad at. The person whose advice you listen to, whose opinion really counts. How many of those never-ending, no-masks-needed-to-hide-behind friendships do we get in a lifetime? We are lucky to have any, and indeed fortunate to have two or three.
So what’s this all about, this GUCI staff letter? It’s about appreciating and going out of the way to continue cultivating that special friendship. It’s about making that phone call or writing that letter, it’s about keeping the “Kesher,” the connection, it’s about being there for each other. My dad and “uncle” were each, in their own way, a blessing to the other. Hey, the greatest compliment anyone can give you is calling you their friend. You can’t take that to the bank, but its value is beyond counting. Be good to each other.