written September, 2018 – finished 2022
In the past, I have been a reluctant attendee at school reunions, so reluctant, in fact, that I have now actually attended a total of two in fifty-four years. To complicate matters, I was not part of a lot of things that happened, either because it was necessary that I work, or the fact that I left my hometown to escape family pressures in the middle of high school, only returning to complete my senior year of high school – mostly because of a glitch in my home state’s rules regarding in-state tuition qualifications for state colleges. On the other hand, the majority of the kids I graduated with had been classmates from kindergarten on, so it’s never really been just about high school.
I’m a person who remembers past favors, large and small. Friends are a treasure, good friends are beyond measure. I am also a person who does not easily let go of slights – perceived or real (a glaring fault, I realize – I’m a work in progress, remember). I do not suffer fools, or the self absorbed with patience. I love humility, and people who think.
So, the reunion was the 50th – a few years ago now, as I finish this small epistle, and I recall it as a night filled with irony. A lot of stories floating around, and an open mike. One reluctant story was that of one or ours, who went to war, as many did, and by his own admission, “drank the kool-aid” of war and soldiery to the point that he became one of our elite fighting men and a follower of the conservative flow and all that goes with it. When asked, “how are you doing?” his response was “OK, now” “Now?” I queried. “Well, I had a heart transplant three months ago. It changed my life” I asked “How so,?” not because I wanted rhetoric, but I wanted to hear about the “changed” part. “I found out after the surgery that the donor was a 37 year old black woman who died in a car crash.”
Dumbstruck. I had nothing to add to the conversation. I wondered later though, how much I had missed about the lives of friends left behind so many years ago.