When I was twelve years old, an elderly couple, Nick and Gloria, moved in next door. My family met them over the course of a few days and immediately fell in love. They were the grandparents my brother and I never had and the friends that my parents always wanted. They were kindred spirits and a blessing in our lives.
Nick was an old Greek man who had a philosophy on everything and a story to go with it. He would work in his garage and blare music like a teenager. One day, my mother and I were working in the yard and he yelled, Abby, come and dance with me! I remember looking at my mother with shocked eyes and she laughed and said, Dont keep him waiting, go dance! He then pulled out a handkerchief and started hopping around shouting words that I didnt understand. Gloria came running out the back door and joined in. She was much more subtle and remembered that I didnt speak Greek. She translated the steps and before long, all three of us were holding hands and dancing in a circle.
Some time later, I sat with Gloria on the back porch, drinking iced tea, crying over what I was sure was a broken heart. It was shortly after I had broken up with my first boyfriend and I was sure I would never be the same. Nick came out after awhile and joined our conversation. He listened to my teenage heart ramble, said some supportive words and then got to the point. I remember it like it was yesterday. He said, Was he one of your five? Having no clue what he was talking about, I asked for some clarification.
Nick held up his right hand and started counting off his fingers. One, two, three, four, five. He stated that each person has five fingers for a reason. Yes, they are used for all of our daily tasks and tend to come in quite handy, but they were really there for another reasoncounting your five. I still had no clue what he was talking about and he explained In life, we do not always get dealt the hand we want; we do not always get to pick our destiny, but we do get to pick how we live our lives and choose how we want to impact others.
He said that at the end of our lives, if we are able to use our fingers and count out five people that have made a significant impact and helped us to be better people, then we are truly blessed. It was even better if we were able to use the other hand and count out five people that were blessed because they knew me and had the ability to experience what I was able to give them.
It was hard to understand the real impact of that conversation until much later in my life. I am still very young, but I know that I have already used up one finger on my hand. Nick and Gloria have my index finger. I hold that memory in my mind because it was so powerful. At twelve, I had met some truly wonderful people and they loved me. I wasnt related to them and they had no reason to share anything with me. They did simply because it was them.
We lost Gloria my freshman year of college and Nick followed a few years later; he died of a broken heart. Whenever I go back to my hometown and visit my parents, I see their old house next door and smile. I have learned that friends come in all shapes, sizes and ages, but I will always be on the lookout for the next of my five.