Do You Value Friends Who Are Very Different From You? In Memory of My Dear Friend Norma Foerderer
Do You Value Friends Who Are Very Different From You? In Memory of My Dear Friend Norma Foerderer.
True friendship is often hard to come by in today’s fast-paced, super-charged hectic world. When you are lucky to find such true friends, it is common that such friends have a great deal in common with you- perhaps you are similar in age, or your children are similar in age, or you are from the same community or profession. Sometimes, strong friendships are found between two people who would seem to have nothing at all in common, yet these relationships can be some of the most instructive in life.
This post is in memory of my close friend and colleague Norma Foerderer who passed away this past September, and a tribute to all of the many, many positive characteristics and values that she displayed in her life.
True Friendship Comes in Many Forms
My wife and I try to teach our children to be friends with all types of people whether the people are “like us” (whatever that means) or not. We try to instill in them to learn good things from the people that they interact with, and to pick up good character traits and good ideas from those they interact with.
Norma was in her 80s while I am only in my 40s, but our friendship was very close and it enriched my life in many ways. Norma was a Catholic who was religious, I am an observant Jew. We were the opposite gender. All of my children are minors who live at home, while Norma had a son who was grown and grandchildren who adored her. I prefer the suburbs, while Norma was an avid Manhattanite. Despite our differences a close bond developed over the many years that we worked together (and even after she retired), and we shared a wonderful, true friendship.
True Friendship Was Just One of the Inspiring Characteristics That Norma Displayed
When those who knew Norma discussed her character traits, a tapestry of wonderful and inspiring thoughts emerged. Norma was so good about keeping in touch and was unstinting in her friendship and her affection. She made sure to reach out just to see how I was doing. She made sure to remember all of my holidays. No important Jewish holiday would pass without a card from her. And not just any card- each one with a warm, kind-hearted and concerned beautifully written note.
Norma was capable of true friendship because she had a core filled with true generosity of spirit, a deep devotion to her family and friends, and a deep abiding faith in her religion. She would call me to see how I was, and how my family was, never mentioning (much less complaining) about any of her own problems. She lived each day with a sense of style and grace, to be sure, but more importantly, with courage, with hope, happy to be alive, and appreciating the little ways in which she could make someone’s life a bit better.
I consider it a great privilege to have known Norma because she truly was one of a kind. I was rewarded by her friendship, and by learning from the type of person that she was. No matter that she was much older than me… no matter that she was of a different faith than me…. no matter that on the surface we seemed to have hardly anything in common at all…. but when we peeled away the surface (which was so easy to do with someone like Norma), we realized we had much in common after all.
Motivational Questions to Think About
- Have you ever had a close friend pass away?
- What characteristics do you look for when starting a friendship?
- What changes could you make in order to be more like Norma?
- How often do you call friends just to ask how they are?
- When you talk with friends do you go on about your own problems?
- Are you willing to be a better listener and friend? How can you do this?