The longest I have lived in one place (bar as a child between 1-12) is five years. Most places one or maybe two years. I like that. I retired to Thailand to use that as a base from which to further explore the world. Then reality bit and I returned to be with my husband in his home city in Australia – a place I left twenty years ago.
Many of my friends live in Europe and America and Asia. But I needed to be here: in Australia. Without technology, being here would be very difficult; with technology, I can do this thing.
Without technology to connect me to family and friends, my journey with Pete would be the longest, coldest walk imaginable. My best friends don’t live in the city where Pete and I live. They live in Brisbane, Adelaide, Boston and Winnipeg. It matters. Not having a hug and a cup of coffee together matters. Not being close enough so that every detail of their lives is meshed with mine, matters. It does not matter as much as it did twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. Today technology keeps my friends and me in close contact.
Daily my sister and I touch base on messenger. Even if I say only “it’s been a rough night” or she says “I put the new carpet in the lounge room”, it’s enough. We can say anything no matter how small or big it is because we are in constant touch. She nursed her husband in his final months and knows just what to say.
My Adelaide friend and I text each other regularly. About her husband’s football team, her camellias, my (and her) children and grandchildren, panic attacks and absent mindness. She is her husband’s sense of direction and organizer, his social secretary and diary. At this point, he is still at home with her.
Skype is the main glue for my Boston friend and I. We leave messages on each others skype board, knowing that the other will check for messages at least twice a day. We have weathered her marriage and divorce and now my husband’s illness. Over the last ten years, we might not have seen each other for a week, but never more than that.
My Brisbane friend and I skype and email each other. Not often but often enough that I know the ins and outs of her aging father and the concern that she and her family have for him, so far away from Australia.
Other friends I hold close in my heart; these four are held close by technology. In a city where I have no close friends, I still have good friends. It helps.
By Bea Toews
Bea Toews is a regular Five Good Friends contributor and full time carer for her husband Peter. “In my life I have been many things; teacher, mother, grandmother, writer, magazine editor, journeywoman. I’ve lived, worked and explored the world over. But right now, my journey sees me navigating the unchartered waters of caring for a fiercely independent loved one and all the emotional turbulence that goes with that”. Putting this into words is both cathartic and useful in helping me to process what we are both going through. I do this for Five Good Friends so that people in my husband’s and my position, expect more from the ‘help’ and ‘care’ sectors, and get a sense of what it should mean to be properly looked after”.