Through Irish Eyes: Great friends make life even more wonderful

By: Helen Bale
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What is friendship? This question was posed in a holiday message from Barbara Covich, who has been a friend for upwards of 30 years. I first met her husband Jug, when he was principal of Placer High School and I was president of the board of trustees. Barbara was his gracious better half. Barbara and I worked together on various projects over the years, mostly connected to the library. Barbara’s question made me think: is it friendship when a neighbor smiles and says “good morning” or does friendship go deeper? Perhaps Jug expressed it best a year and a half ago when we were rounding up the last details for the second annual McCann alumni luncheon held at Lou La Bonte’s restaurant. As we summed up our feelings about this important observance in the community life of Auburn, Jug paid me what I consider the ultimate expression of friendship when he said he regarded me as one of the few quality people he had know in his lifetime. It was a grand expression, Jug, and I have never forgotten it. For friendship, I could not surpass the wonderful caring and compassion shown to me over the years by Father Ronan Brennan, retired pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, a true friend. Then there is Ted Fergos who brings me communion every Sunday morning. I am equally grateful to Sheriff Ed Bonner, who helped me with the distribution of countless teddy bears to poor children this holiday season. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me to know that all these little ones had a special touch of Christmas cheer. Strangely enough, friendship does not merely embrace those we have known well. With this season’s holiday wishes came word from Barbara Beland. While she had never written a fan letter before, she wanted to tell me how much she enjoyed my newspaper articles over the years stating that she had especially enjoyed my Irish experiences and the adventures of Oh No! She also considers me an important figure in the history of the Auburn area. She closed by saying, “Thanks too for your humor and insight. I wish you well on your next journey.” Friendship may last a long time. Several years ago came words from Nancy and Bob Hoge: “It’s been so wonderful to have you for a neighbor. Have a most blessed Christmas.” And while I cannot include everyone in my friendship category I must express the love offered by Sallie and Bill Furlong. Bill and I share a birthday this holiday season and many years of friendship both as co-workers at the Auburn Journal and on a personal basis. There are so many more ... Nat and Delia Giuliani for instance, who often shared monthly breakfasts at the Elks Club following early Mass. They have visited me both at the convalescent hospital and at home and recently brought me a most luscious Italian fruit bread. Perhaps friendship is best summed up in the words of Earl Parsons, which were forwarded to me by Rena Webb. I knew Earl as director of the District Rose Society and his thoughts on friends are expressed thusly: They hug us when we’re insecure And show is that they care, Bring us food when we’re ill, And we’re sure glad they’re there. They accept our habits and faults For they know who we are inside And when our moods are slightly off A lot of patience is supplied. They help you with your party Even when they are not invited. When something nice happens to you They get equally excited. They compliment you often And cheer you when you doubt They never say “I told you so” When things don’t work out. They tolerate your children And your pets they will accept And they have proven their worth In your secrets they have kept. They know when it’s time to leave And when you really want advice When you need a special favor, You don’t have to ask them twice. They don’t mention your bad hair days Or that you’ve put on weight. They only mention encouragement And things to celebrate. They don’t nag at your excesses. They remember our favorite things. And we know of the great pleasure That this person’s presence brings. The definition of a friendship I’ve often heard people say Is someone who really knows us — And likes us anyway. With luck, life’s greatest treasure Is with us until the end. It’s not the wealth that we amass, It’s that special person — “Friend.” Wonderful neighbors have included James Bennett who brings my mail each day; Kay Harrell who brings home baked cinnamon rolls at Christmas, Jane Duncan — a very crafty lady, and Dan and Marge Brosier who supplied me with late-season roses, and a host of others including Brent Smith with his sleek black Labrador, Samantha, who comes each Sunday to retrieve my paper on command. May everyone be blessed with the tremendous friendships I have known.