Conscious Aging: “Anam Cara”

“Anam cara” is a new Irish phrase to me; it means, roughly, “soul friend”. The phrase is one I haven’t heard before, but I know the spirit of “soul friend” very well.

My late husband Jerry and I knew R. back in Rochester, at a much earlier and more turbulent time in her life. There’s quite an age difference; I’m 35 years older than she, Jerry would have been 38 years older. Jerry and I were kind to R., not in any earth-shaking sort of way but in the way that most of us are to a younger person going through a rocky time. I’d say we held out a steadying hand, offered a listening ear, gave quiet words of encouragement and support.

R. is a delightful young women, worth any amount of effort anyone might want to extend.

She was here in Seattle for work, and looked me up after all this time. Life goes forward, barely pauses, sometimes seems to gallop ahead. The choice to stop, turn, say “thank you” is deliberate, rare, all the more touching and precious because it often doesn’t happen.

R. and I spent a wonderful evening over wine and dinner. She has blossomed since that hard period in her life. Indeed, listening, I thought of the film I recently saw, “A Star is Born”. R. always was a star, albeit a bit obscured by the dust and debris of her early life. But now she has blossomed. She has a wonderful job, and three excellent offers at hand should she want to make a change. She owns a home. She has people who love her, and whom she loves in return. She is bold, and adventuresome, and competent, and daring. She wants to make a difference in the world.

She paused to stop, look back, and say “thank you” for whatever part Jerry and I played in her getting from then to now. The phrase she used was “anam cara”, soul friend.

I am touched, and blessed, and grateful.

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