Living Life Side by Side

by Jennifer Pollard, MSW

photo 1All it took was a song and there I was, back in high school with all my friends, with our impeccable dance moves thinking we could dance right alongside Madonna or Michael Jackson in a music video. But alas, I was just listening to the “80s on 8” station of SiriusXM in my car driving back to Tampa, Florida, to attend my 25th high school reunion last month. Listening to a treasured song turns back the hands of time and transports you back to an exact memory and feeling in your life.

That’s just how it is for a dear friend, Marie (91), when she sees her best friend, Lillian (92). These inseparable best friends became sisters-in-law when they married two brothers. Even though they live in the same neighborhood, they now rarely get to see each other due to health issues.
Recently when I was out with one for an appointment, we pulled in the driveway, and I helped her get inside to see her dear friend. There were hugs, tears, laughter and joy that only two best friends can show upon a reunion.

The friends started telling stories of their adventures gallivanting in New York City while the men were off to fight World War II. The ladies recalled getting stuck on a train at the end of its route because they were having too much fun to remember to get off on their stop and going to parties and dances despite not having dates.

Their friendship has seen them through WWII, marrying the brothers when they returned from their service, raising families near one another in Long Island, retiring to Pinehurst together, and subsequently, burying one of the brothers and losing a child.

When these two friends are together, time rewinds and they are young and full of joy. I asked them on this visit if they had a favorite song when they were younger that made them think of each other when they heard it. They looked at each other and burst into song:

“Oh! We ain’t got a barrel of money. Maybe we`re ragged and funny. But we`ll travel along, singing a song, side by side. I don`t know what`s a-comin` tomorrow. Maybe it`s trouble and sorrow. But we`ll travel the road, sharing our load side by side through all kinds of weather. What if the sky should fall. Just as long as we`re together, it really doesn`t matter at all. When they`ve all had their quarrels and parted, we`ll be the same as we started. Just traveling along singing a song side by side.”

Gus Kahn wrote the lyrics to “Side By Side” with Harry M. Woods composing the music in in 1927. Here’s to lifelong friends and the songs that take us right back to the good ol’ days. What songs make you think of your best friend? I’d love for you to share.

Pollard, MSW, is a aging life care manager with AOS Care Management. Her career has taught her the powerful role music has in preserving and unlocking memories. She can be reached at jenniferp@aoscaremanagement.com.