On a recent trip to America to visit family and friends, I yet again realized how important it is to nurture old ties. I’m all for new acquaintances and encounters (hell, I’m the friendliest person I know), but there’s something unmistakably fabulous about being able to go back in time with shared history. It’s a reminder that life is something you do with other people.

As I grow old, so do my friends and family. That’s the way life is. As a septuagenarian, I know it and embrace it. It’s no small things to love someone for years, to continue to care about them through all the changes life brings. I saw my niece the week she was born in Boston and I have loved for her over fifty years. I find that absolutely remarkable. Sometimes I’m sure she’s still a teenager with braces; then she appears back in my life and she’s dressed like a hotshot lawyer, mother of three. We can talk to each other as adults.

There is a difference, I suppose, between knowing someone from birth (when you are an adult already) and growing old in tandem with a friend or family member. That’s why it was such a glorious opportunity to be able to celebrate, on this trip, 60 years of rich, continuous friendship with my bosom buddy, Lizzie Renta. We’ve known each other through the thick and thin of it, and even though we live on two different continents for well over four decades, we never fail to stay in touch.

One must not take this for granted. There are plenty of people I knew decades ago with whom I have nothing in common today. Just because I knew them once doesn’t justify oxygenating the relationship. I’ve been to a few high school reunions; some of the people there felt like people I wanted to know still and some didn’t. I was okay with that. There’s no reason to maintain something just for old time’s sake.

On the other hand, I’ve been gifted with relations that are so endearing and important in which we both grow, share, and help one another. That’s connection at its best.

My oldest friend in the whole, wide world also happens to be my brother, and lucky me that we love each other, care about each other, and share our lives. It doesn’t matter a bit that we are very, very different stylistically. One would hardly imagine that he’s my brother. I’m kind of an old-time hippy, colorful and silly, very young at heart. My brother Lew was born a grownup. And yet, even though he’s predictable, he’s still capable of surprising me.

What I’m really trying to say here, friends, is take the time out to consider all the lovely relationships you’ve had over the years with friends and family. Let these people, from whom you are maybe separated geographically or circumstantially, know you’re still thinking of them with love and fondness. It’s amazing to have history. Don’t dare get blasé about it.