Around the Bluhmin’ Town: Friendship can happen anywhere at any time

By Judy Bluhm

My colleague reluctantly moved to a new city to be closer to her daughter. She is shy and worriedly asked, “Where can I meet friends?” 

Friendships can form, mysteriously, against all odds. A 12-year-old boy with autism, Kyle, was asked by his 74-year-old neighbor, Mr. Brown, if he could help do some odd jobs. What started out as a few mundane weekly chores, like pulling the garbage can in and out, gradually grew to something else.

Kyle did not talk much, had few friends and often slapped himself repeatedly in the head. He lived with his single mom and was an only child. Mr. Brown was a widower and loved to play chess. He also loved to cook. Eventually, Mr. Brown got Kyle interested in the game of chess. And life changed for both of them.

After school, Kyle would go over to Mr. Brown’s house. Together they played chess and ate dinner. Kyle learned how to play a game, sit still and eventually stop hitting himself. He was able to hold a conversation. Mr. Brown found a kind and curious companion, and Kyle found a best friend that he never had. Friendship has no age restrictions and can be entirely unexpected.

My young horse, Sedona, became gravely ill and was placed on stall rest. Two large ravens often sat on her fence rail, sometimes pacing back and forth. I was surprised at the antics of these two huge birds. They would sit for long periods of time, while Sedona was lying down. Sometimes she would get up to greet them. A routine was established. Every morning and evening the two ravens spent time with my sick horse. One day I watched one of the ravens pick up little bits of apple that had fallen from our tree and fly over the barn, dropping them in Sedona’s stall. A bird bringing my horse a treat? Friends fly to any heights to give us encouragement.

As Kyle prepared for college, he wrote in his admission letter that Mr. Brown showed him that he was “more” than just autism. Kyle began to believe in himself. After Sedona died, two grieving ravens sat in the Cottonwood trees by the barn and would squawk, “Caw, caw, caw.” For five days they made their sorrowful cry for their friend. 

Time, kindness and attention are the currency of friendship, which are small treasures bestowed upon us that make life worth living. To witness friendship is as joyful as watching ravens communicate with a horse and as sorrowful as hearing their plaintive call when she is gone. It is as special as watching an elderly man see the future potential in a young boy. 

I am no expert on friendship. But to my colleague who just moved, I’d say if finding a friend can take place in a barn, helping a neighbor with a garbage can or while learning to play chess, it can happen anywhere. Keep the faith and be open. The possibilities are endless. The results are outstanding. 

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email her at judy@judybluhm.com.

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