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Class reunions are beautiful reminders of precious memories

Class reunions are beautiful reminders of precious memories

My daughter called on Friday evening. During the conversation, she mentioned a minor frustration from her work day. I didn’t give her much sympathy. I told her, “You think you’ve got it bad? I have to lose 50 pounds, get a face lift and become rich and famous ... by tomorrow!”

The next day was my 50th class reunion. And of course, I did none of those things. It was 30 years too late anyway. Instead, I walked into the banquet hall afraid I wouldn’t recognize anyone and perhaps worse yet, they wouldn’t recognize me. The battle scars of suffering through life’s inevitable disappointments and tragedies and fiercely clutching life’s gifts, we looked at each other through lenses foggy with life experiences. We were for the most part, overweight, a touch wrinkled, and with our eyelids looking like they were threatening to send us into a quick and unexpected nap.

The more I looked, though, the more clearly my former classmates faces appeared – the sweet, kind faces of people I’d grown up with; who had struggled through geometry with me; who could laugh about the bowls of peanut butter on the cafeteria tables suspected to be the same ones from Kindergarten through graduation; and who, in their minds, can still hear the roar of the crowds from their high school sporting events.

There was great storytelling, pundits of wisdom and sweet remembrances. For example, my friend Bucky confided about his worry concerning the state of the world. I readily agreed that these are trying times. He felt some hope though, he said, as he drove through small towns the prior weekend, coming to a stop outside a bar where an S10 pickup was parked. He said he opened the door to the bar and called into the dark recesses, “Who owns this S10 pickup out here?”

A deep voice from the back of the room said, “I do.”

“Do you want to sell it?” Bucky asked.

“Yeah.”

So Bucky went back outside to look the truck over some more. The windows were down and the doors were unlocked. Between the seats was a loaded rifle.

“Now, that’s the way America is supposed to be,” he observed.

Perhaps he is right. Putting aside concern about unprotected firearms, maybe his point was that we should be free and people should respect each other’s things. Or maybe he was just saying that there should be more great stories to tell of instant friendships and great used pickups for sale.

There were tender moments, too. Earlier in the day, a dear friend from high school stopped at my house on her way to the reunion and asked if I had some deodorant she could use. She had forgotten hers, she said. She’ll never know how happy that made me. I was instantly transformed to 16 years old again where sharing clothes, lipstick and perfume were common signs of affection. We never thought of it as a health hazard. While her husband was appalled at such a request and confused by my happy reception, he didn’t quite understand that my friend and I had just shared an unspoken memory from over 50 years ago.

Of course, there were obvious indicators that we had aged. For example, there wasn’t as much drinking as at previous reunions. Maybe that is because the loss of balance, the slurred words and cloudy vision all come more naturally to us now. Or maybe it was because it didn’t sit well with our medications.

Another indicator that we might be slowing down just a little is that people started to go home by 8 p.m. instead of 2 a.m. like in the old days. Some had designated drivers – not because of inebriation but because of eye conditions that make the dark more difficult to navigate.

But we were happy to be together. We grieved the eight classmates who had passed on before us and grieved the one who was hospitalized with COVID. (Sadly, he died the following week.) We were mindful of the state of the world, the luxury of being together and the happiness of having this opportunity in life.

I will be grateful for this special time for as long as my memory can hold on to it.

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Doreen Rosevold is a humorist/columnist from Mayville, ND.

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