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As I write this we have passed yet another Valentine’s Day, that favorite holiday of florists and candy makers.  I know: from a sometime writer of romance novels, you are expecting a treatise on the glories of romantic love.  Romantic Love–always capitalized—that which, as the poets say, “makes the world go ‘round.”

However, at the moment I have something different in mind—maybe even higher.


Friendship, for—at its best—and if it is to last, Romantic Love must evolve into or from friendship.  Or so it seems.  (Why else would so many married folks insist “I am married to my best friend.”?)  Perhaps we could define marriage as “friendship with benefits.”  But I digress.

I want to talk about the plain, old-fashioned, garden variety of friendship which has little or nothing to do with sexual attraction.  I have waxed on at great length here before about how incredibly lucky I am in my friends.  In recent weeks, I have come to appreciate that key element of life—friendship—more than ever.

I am in Florida where, on January 17, I had surgery to replace my left knee.  Before and after that event, I have enjoyed—relished—cards, emails, phone calls, and visits from friends.  I’ve lost count of how many times Bill McGrath visited me in the hospital and has since made a party of picnic lunches.  This week Nisha and Grant Kremers—college buddies half a century ago!—are flying in from Nevada.

But—most of all—I am grateful—indebted—to Dottie—Dorothy Francis Behm–who, when I told her this surgery was a probability, invited me to come to Florida for it and offered to see me through the whole ordeal. She has been incredibly wonderful as secretary, chauffeur, cook, nurse, and “go fer” throughout.  She has been through this herself—twice!—so she has answers before I even know what questions to ask!

Dottie and I have known each other since the ‘70s when we worked together, along with Bill McGrath, at Kaiserslautern American High School in Germany.  A number of other former teachers from the American schools in Europe have retired to this area of Florida, so it’s always great fun to visit here—knee surgery notwithstanding.