I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Penny who shares the value of friendship.

Sue, Genevieve, Cathy and I have been friends for approximately 54 years. And whilst that gives away my age, it is a remarkable gift I treasure.

My lifelong friends – Sue, Genevieve and Cathy went to school with me.  Our husbands Grant, Hans, Bernd and Mel were also all friends before we were married.  Grant and Mel went to Bryanston Primary together and have known each other even longer – as many of you will know by the stories they share over a few drinks!

I am a social person and had a big crowd of friends before getting married. Many in that crowd ended up marrying each other and I often say how lucky we are to have been friends for years and years.

All of us got married and were bridesmaids and groomsmen at the weddings – unless one was overseas (in “those” days it was less easy to pop from country to country!) We have even been to the occasional second wedding – as the photos below show. The first photo is of Sue & Grant’s wedding, with Mel & Hans as groomsmen and Genevieve and I as bridesmaids. The second photo is the four lifelong friends at Genevieve’s second wedding.

We have also shared many sad moments – like recently being at Bernd’s memorial to support Cathy and her gorgeous daughters, whilst celebrating the life of Bernd. It was so special to hear Cathy & Bernd’s daughters (whom I have known their whole lives) speak, as well as to have my one son Warren fondly recount stories of our families (including how his dad asked Bernd to have “that” talk with him!)

With our children (and godchildren as many of us became godparents to one and others kids) we went on many family holidays together. Our children are friends with each other – and a few have even had a romance or two! I love the fact that a couple of our grandchildren are even going to the same nursery school – and I know that they too will be friends for life!

One of my great joys is playing bridge with these friends (and some new ones like Carel – also from CN&CO and Michele Sparkes) as well as to have a book club (which has been going all these years – and yes, we do read and don’t just drink and socialise!). And while these groups have changed over the year, the core has been the same.

We have all been a wonderful support system to each other over the years – in good times and bad. As you can imagine we have many stories to tell and as I get older, I value these more and more.

Lifelong friends make life’s journey so much richer and more special. I would encourage everyone to work hard at keeping your friends close – even if not in distance, certainly in your heart.