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Friendship still going strong 80 years later

Betty Henrikson and Nona Olson

Family, faith and farm life take center stage in lifelong friendship.

June 8 is National Best Friends Day, a great time to look at the importance of friendship and recognize those that have played an important role in our lives.

You have to be a friend to have friends.” A quote that LaMoure resident Betty Henrikson recited when asked for advice on keeping a friendship going — something she and Nona Olson certainly know something about.

Their friendship began around the age of ten, eighty-some years ago when both attended the same Sunday school at church, and continues today as they both reside at Benedictine (St. Rose) senior care community in LaMoure.  Now that’s a long time!  And spending time together is exactly what Nona reflected on when asked for advice on keeping a friendship going.  It makes sense that two people who have been friends for so long, have answers that are so similar.

They describe fondly the times they’ve spent together over eight decades — from attending Sunday school and EYF (Evangelical Youth Fellowship) in their youth, to being involved with quilting, school and family activities after they married and became mothers of children of similar ages.  Memories built with time and love: taking their kids roller-skating in Marion every weekend, with the occasional trip to Jamestown.  One year, they brought their families to watch fireworks at Spiritwood on the 4th of July.

Nona’s hometown was Litchville, and Betty’s Marion; their farms were about 3 miles apart.  When asked about their lives, both reminisced about growing up on a farm and commented how farm life contributed to a life well lived.  Each spoke of hard work and busy lives but how enjoyable and rewarding it was.

Connection, such a fundamental part of being human: forming connections with others.  That continues for Betty and Nona today as they now both live at Benedictine-LaMoure and are able to see each other every day.  Here they share meals together daily at the same table, and enjoy keeping busy with activities such as reading, exercise program, puzzles, music, time outdoors and volunteering to fold napkins for the dining room tables.

Living at the same place has other advantages.  People from the community who stop by to visit one of the lovely ladies often visit the other as well during their time at St. Rose.

Betty states, “I would not want to be anywhere else.  They take very good care of us and you have everything you need right here.”  Betty states how nice it is that her son can drop in and say hello when running in to town for parts and described other family members who often do the same.

Nona adds, “I love it here!  It’s a friendly place and I couldn’t ask for better.  It’s like home.  I knew some residents and staff before coming to live here, and continue to form connections with employees through who their parents, grandparents and families are that I know.”

Betty explains the importance of familiarity and feeling at home.  She likes the fact that Benedictine-LaMoure is a small place.  “I would be lost in a big place!”  She also notes that by choosing to reside in a senior care community that is local, she could keep all of her connections, using the same bank, businesses and local providers that she’s always used through her whole life, something that was important to her and provides a sense of comfort.

Hearing of their memories, I’m sure many can think of their own memories from youth and adulthood of wonderful times spent with friends, family and faith.  What a beautiful thing to have this connection!  A reminder to reach out to the friends you have and thank them for being in your life – you may just be counting on them decades from now!