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Trina Ponders the Meaning of Silver and Gold Friendships

By Trina O’Quinn for the NABBW

All day, no — for many weeks — I’ve been ruminating on this song: “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” I learned it almost 70 years ago, when I was a Brownie. Perhaps you once sang it as well…

The question I am asking myself today is how does each metal signify old and new friendships? Gold is a precious metal. It is in it highest form at 24 carets. It is highly malleable and signifies wealth. It is durable and will last a long time. Silver is a white precious metal that is ductile and malleable. It also signifies riches and is second to gold.

Gold has been chosen to signify a 50-year-old marriage where silver is used for the 25th. So, then, why are they used in this song to signify old and new friends?

Trina in a reflective moment.

I believe that this song has a greater significance and deeper meaning to me than the value and length of friendship. For me, it is saying that both old and new friends are valuable. New friends are meant to add to our social wealth, not replace it. It takes both silver and gold to constitute wealth. Often, silver is added to gold to make it stronger.

Old friends are valuable because they have traveled through life with us. They helped us record my own history. When we reconnect with old friends, we do not need to explain to them who we are, or anything about our earlier days. All we need to do is catch up on the time between our last visit and the current one.

When I have been able to make new friends, my sense of discovery is awakened. I become curious about the other person. Who they are and what their history contains. In learning about them, I discover more about myself. You probably have had the a similar experience.

Recently on Facebook, there have been posts asking if you have friendships over 5 years old. This made me think. I don’t have any friendships less than 5 years old. I still am connected to women I meant at age 7 in Brownies and those I grew up with in my neighborhood I have known for 74 years. We still correspond.

So what constitutes an old friendship? Is it length of time, depth of sharing, amount of time spent together, etc.?

I am not sure of the answer. I imagine it has to do with the relationship and how intimate it becomes. I can know a person for 30 years, and they will still be an acquaintance if we don’t share our deeper feelings openly with one another. Recently, I have reflected on my newer friends. I realized that they feel like older friends because we have shared so deeply. They feel more like new friends than old ones.

A photo of my good friend Diane DeHaven.

In the middle of writing this I was notified that a long-time dear friend, Diane DeHaven had died unexpectedly. She was definitely a golden friend.

She was old school. Reared in a small town in Michigan, she was introverted, like me, and had perfect manners.

Diane was a WWII baby just a few years older than me. Her generation of women did not leave the house unless properly groomed and dressed.

Her clothes were impeccable. They not only matched, they blended – the colors were so close together that they seemed like they were one piece of fabric.

We were different in our economic status: Diane was wealthy and I was not, but this was never an issue. Her most important values matched mine; they were kindness, truthfulness, generosity, and gratitude.

Until 2002, in order to work independently in the State of California, without supervision, as a Marriage and Family Therapist, one must prove they could do it safely.

After the completion of an accredited Master’s Degree in a subject related to psychotherapy and 3000 supervised client hours, any aspiring therapist had to pass written and oral examination.

The examiners would independently score each exam question to determine whether or not the applicant qualified to be an independent therapist.

My friend Diane was one of a group of women who both administered the orals examination and wrote questions for both California State Marriage and Family Therapist Licensure exams. She trained me as an Orals Examiner. Our friendship began to grow from that day in 1995.

As the years passed, we deepened that friendship. In 2017, when my mother became ill and needed help, my friend was there for me, giving me all the support I needed.

She had taken care of her mother, then her husband and had to move them into a higher level of care. She was the one who told me what I needed to hear: “It is time to find 24/7 care for your mom.”

While my family supported me, she was always on the other end of the phone when I needed to talk. She was definitely a gold friend, and I already miss her.

I saw this post on Christy Evans’ Facebook page last week and printed it out. She says, “Good Friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.

My friend Diane will always be here for me, as I will hold her memory in my heart. Of the seven of us who started this group there are just three of us left to meet in person. Three have moved away and now one has died.

We are all of that age know that death is expected, but she is the first. Those of us that remain will hold her memory in our heart.

So back to my original discussion of the song I learned in Brownies  all those decades ago: The reason old friends are gold is because they have been in our hearts longer. They have a softer middle. All friends are valuable, but in my opinion, this is why “one is silver and the other gold.”

This blog is dedicated to my friend of 26 years Diane DeHaven. Thanks for helping me understand why long time friends have the elements and value of gold. In loving Memory, Trina

Trina O’Quinn is an actively licensed (California License # LMFT27407) Marriage and Family Therapist. Entering the profession as an older adult, Trina was in private practice for 30 years. During her career she was a lecturer at California University Dominguez Hills in the Marital and Family Therapy Program, where she supervised many students and mentored many associates.

Now retired, Trina keeps busy enjoying needle arts, reading, journaling and writing, as well as singing with a women’s chorus, peer networking, volunteering at a senior living center and reconnecting with old friends. 



NABBW Contributing Author

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