Friendship, Faith Help Overcome Physical Frailty

A woman with rheumatoid arthritis finds friendship helps her deal with the pain.

Posted in , May 30, 2012

Pat Vandover (left) and her friend Shirley

One of my favorite verses is Ecclesiasticus 6:16: “A faithful friend is the medicine of life.” It’s true! I often have terrible pain from rheumatoid arthritis, but my best friend, Shirley Kohut, always makes me feel better.

Shirley and I met 26 years ago, camping in line overnight for New Kids on the Block concert tickets. It got chilly and I overheard her kids say they wouldn’t have room to sleep in their car.

“Hi, I’m Pat,” I said, acting on an urge. “You’re welcome to stay with me. I have a van with a TV and a bed for the kids.” I hope she doesn’t think I’m crazy.

Shirley’s eyes lit up. “That would be wonderful!” Our slumber party was so fun. The more Shirley and I talked, the more my pain melted away. From that day on we’ve been best friends.

Over the years my arthritis has grown worse. Shirley was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia. We know we can count on each other. Sometimes it’s as if she knows what I need before I do. Like the day my elbow ached and she stopped by with a heating pad she’d just bought.

Last Christmas I had a quilt made for Shirley. Each square had a photo—of us, of her and her husband, Michael, of their kids and pets. She loved it! Not a day goes by I don’t say a prayer of thanks to God for bringing Shirley into my life—and for the healing power of friendship.

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