It has taken me this long to learn that there are many different kinds of friends. Although I have more than three friends, each person listed here represents a distinctly different type. Let me explain.
1. Nikki is my "Soulmate." A soulmate is one who thinks, eats and breathes like you do. We laugh and cry at the same things and rarely disagree. And when we do, there’s never any doubt about the strength of our friendship. I know she would be there for me in a heartbeat and hopefully, she feels the same. I suspect one has only a few soulmates in a lifetime.
2. Nancy is my "For Life" friend. We were friends in high school but lost touch after we went off to University. Much later, when I returned to Kenora after my bout with cancer, we met again. It was 28 years later and it was as if nothing changed. I have a healthy number of these types of friends because of the positive experience I had in high school. We all supported each other and I guess that never left us. It's not the kind of friendship that will find us partaking in daily activities together…but whenever we do see each other, we just pick up where we left off.
3. Bob is my "Best Bud." This is the rarest kind of friend, the one you pray will come around at some point in your life. It's the one you look up to and the one you work the hardest to keep. But the payoff is enormous. And the qualities they bring out in you are always the most attractive. It’s not a one-sided friendship. You each contribute as much as the other. And, like a marriage, you work at it.
You might not see the difference between the three groups. But to me they are all different, all necessary and all valuable in their way.
When my mother died, I threw myself into Nikki’s arms at the funeral because I knew she would be warm, understanding and consoling...spiritually similar.*
When I was in the hospital with cancer, Bob was my relentless advocate, visiting me and checking up on all the details that needed to be attended to. He was a counselor, constantly giving me advice on how to weather my disease. And he was an evangelist, not allowing me to wallow in self-pity, encouraging me to keep my head high and never doubt that I would pull through.
When I saw Nancy this summer, I tried to analyze why I hugged her tightly. I think it was because we shared so much when we were children. We knew where we had come from and what it took to get where we are today. That is what bonds a "For Life" friend. Three very different friends, all very necessary for my existence. Explore more in the hamburger bun (upper left corner) under "Friendly Moments."
On October 14, 2013, Nykola Dubenski's mother, Helene, passed away in Kenora, Ontario. She was 96 years of age and died peacefully in Nikki's arms listening to her daughter sing Ukrainian folk songs.
Helene's life and work touched all 3 generations of my family. She knew my grandparents when they had a clothing store in Kenora. Her relationship with my father extended from the time he was a baby up through his entire adult life. They were close political allies when my father was mayor and Helene served on the town council. Together, they worked tirelessly and effectively to make Kenora a better place to live.
I last saw Helene in the summer of 2013 when she, Nikki and I had lunch together. Even at the age of 96, she had the ability to recall and convey special moments from our shared history in a way that brought laughter and tears to my eyes. I adored this woman.
This video is intended to honor Helene in her diverse roles as loving mother, loyal friend and dedicated councilwoman in Kenora. I offer it as a loving remembrance and celebration of the life of a truly remarkable woman.