Friends Are There Before You Need Them

After many years of severe depression and several prior failed attempts, my mother’s mother took her own life when I was a young child. She had been severely abused growing up and was never able to overcome the demons that haunted her. A beautiful woman, a New York City model, I never really knew her, but the effects of her tortured childhood, the affect that her depression and her death had on my mother, are part of my DNA and have defined my existence in ways I only superficially understand.

My grandfather has told me many stories about my grandmother, his first wife, and the difficulties she had, living as she did. Loving his wife very much, my grandfather did everything within his power to help her: doctors, therapists, institutions, and medicine, but nothing helped. My mother remembers that, for her mom, every day was the worst day of her life.

After my grandmother died, they had a service and her family was there. Among them were her brothers who, I am told, were horrible people. As everyone was leaving, one of her brothers said to my grandfather, loudly so everyone in attendance would hear, “Well Bob, if there’s anything you need, you just let me know.” At the same volume, my grandfather replied, “Actually, I could really use some help with the expenses, like doctor bills. I need about $500.” Her brother stuttered and stammered and said, “Alright Bob. I’ll see you around.” Then he left.

A few minutes later, one of my grandfather’s friends walked over to him, slipped something in his pocket and began to walk away. My grandfather pulled it out and asked, “What’s this?” “It’s a check for $500. You said you needed it,” his friend replied. While it was true that money was tight and there were a lot of outstanding bills to be paid, my grandfather handed the check back to his friend and said, “Thank you, but I don’t need this. I just wanted her brother and everyone else to know what a worthless piece of s#!t he really is.”

Friends, my grandfather used this story to explain to me, are not those who are there for you when you need them, but those who are there for you before you need them, just like his friend was there for him without even being asked.

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