Friends, Emotions, & Writing

I didn’t learn how to make friends when I was a child. We moved a lot when I was growing up. I lived in 10 different homes by the time I was ten.

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My sister was my best friend. She was about a year older than I, but people often thought we were twins.

Her name was Edith. We shared the same initials: RER. She was born with cystic fibrosis. That was a death sentence back 70 years ago.

I learned how to play dolls, how to sew so we could make doll clothes together, how to embroider, how to do the things that she enjoyed and could do.

I taught her how to climb trees. I showed her how a friend treats a friend. But, I think she did most of the teaching.

I was her protector. She developed arthritis early on. Being bumped or touched the wrong way would cause her great pain.

Our school was in an old Southern home with a high crawl space, about 4 feet high. The porch in the front was high. One day an older student decided to play King of the Mountain with the porch as his mountain. Edith was on the porch, watching. I was occupied on the ground in front of the porch.

Suddenly, he saw Edith and grabbed her to throw her off the porch. His roughness hurt her and she began crying. When I saw what was happening, I ran to the steps and leaped up them. Friends later told me I was yelling like a wild man.

The “king” apparently heard me, released Edith, and headed for the steps to escape. I was on the steps. He didn’t escape. It’s the only fight I was ever in. I won.

The principal looked sternly at me and admonished me about fighting. Then, with a smile, sent me back to class.

Edith lived to be 21 years old. She enrolled in the local Junior College, had boyfriends, even a couple marriage proposals. She lived gracefully. But she knew that her time was limited.

My first real friend, other than my sister, was a girlfriend. Go figure.


I began writing poetry when I was 11. The first poem was in response to an assignment at school. The teacher wanted to have a bulletin board about pets. It was to be a cooperative effort: he had the idea and his students would make the contents.

I wrote a poem about my dog, Brownie. I didn’t keep a copy of it. An eleven-year-old isn’t thinking about legacy.

“My dog has fleas, they bite her,
She scratches day and night…”

Those are the first lines. But I can’t remember the rest.

My father could, and often did, recite poems that he had written when he was younger. The Roberts family has a legacy of writers, going back to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I like to think I’m keeping the legacy alive.

Where is this going?

I wrote a lot of poems to my girlfriends. Love poems. Moon poems.

As the lyrics to a ‘60s song go, “Breaking up is hard to do…” So some of my poems are sad. Almost morbid. Lost love is never happy.

I remember riding home on my little Vespa motor scooter from Edith’s funeral. I didn’t cry outwardly, but inside I was screaming.

I wrote a few poems about grief and how lousy life is. I have included some in my books, A Gathering of Poetry. There are two volumes, but only Volume I is published at this time. Volume II will be published soon.

Reasons I Write

Writing has been for me a release. For my emotions, my dreams, my secret life, I write. Sometimes I think my writing is my friend. Perhaps that’s why all writers write.

Reason #1
I write to focus my emotions. When I can see the words on paper that express my emotional state, I am able to accept the emotions and move on with life.

Reason #2
I write to organize my thoughts. With the words on paper, even though they may be jumbled and disorganized, I can copy, cut, paste – organize, without forgetting or misplacing important information.

I can trust my friends to read my writing without judgment, with compassion, because they know the real me.

That gives me the confidence I need to share my writing with a broader audience – even with people I don’t know. An audience validates the emotions and ideas that are expressed in the writing.

My sister had a true friend. Her name was Linda Holland. Later, when I came to my senses, I married her.


Why do you write? Why do you read what others have written? How do you deal with your emotions? Do you have some safe people with whom you can share your emotions?

Write to me and share your thoughts and observations about writing and friends – or about loss. Use the Comments box below or email me. I will respond.

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Thank you for reading.

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