An Old Friend

By Joseph J. Mazzella • December 21, 2022

It was a month or so ago. I was at a tire dealership getting new tires put on my car before winter weather set in. It was a long wait so I settled into a chair with my book when suddenly I heard a voice that I hadn’t heard in many years. An old friend from grade school had recognized me. I certainly didn’t recognize him at first. He had white hair and a white beard now. The last time I’d seen him his hair had been a bright, fiery red.

We soon started talking trying to catch up on each other’s lives. It is hard to fit forty years in a few hours, though. Still, we talked about our families, friends, lives, jobs, pains, and struggles. We relived old memories too and shared laugher and joy together. It felt so good catching up with my old friend. Then he said something that still sticks with me. “Joe, I want to thank you for being my friend back then.” He talked about how he had struggled in school and had a stutter that caused others to tease him, and how that filled him with anger, darkness, and pain.

After we said goodbye and I left I tried to remember if I had ever been one of those who had teased him but couldn’t. I hoped I hadn’t. Even as a child I never wanted to see someone in pain or unhappy. I was glad too if even a little bit my friendship and kindness had helped him through that dark time. And I thanked God for getting to see him again.

It is amazing how the circle of life goes round and round. An act of kindness can travel the world for years from heart to heart and soul to soul until it circles back to us. I never knew how just being a friend could mean so much to another. That is why now I want to thank all the old friends and new ones who have touched and enriched my own life with their love and kindness. “Thank you All!” You helped me to become who I am today. You helped me to grow in love, kindness, and joy until I was able to share it with the world. You helped me along the path of love that led me to faith, goodness, grace, and God.

Never stop being a friend to others. Share all the love and kindness you can, every way you can, whenever you can, and for as long as you ever can. You can never imagine how much it might mean to another. You can never imagine how it might touch a heart or change a life.

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