Tag Archives: friends

Forever Changing

I realized the other day that not only we were into a new year, but also a new decade.  I have lived seven decades and one year.  This past decade has been one of great changes for me.  I went to my computer to look at photos since my Mac can allow me to look at each year of photos.  This quick review has gone on for three days, and I’m not done yet.  There are a lot of photos taken and scanned over the last 10 years.  I think of myself as a newlywed until I realize that the most of this decade I have been with Dennis.  How time flies.  Not just getting married (something I never expected), but the travels.  I have seen much of the United States this past decade, and even a few countries in Europe and the Caribbean.  There are a ton of photos of time with my grandkids—swimming, overnight parties, and trips.  There are photos of family and friends at our home.  Also during this decade I lost a dad, a sister, and one of my very best friends.  Reviewing these photos brought all kinds of feelings.  One of the things that really stuck out to me is the word change.  I remember years ago a work colleague made a comment to me that I always seemed to reinvent myself.  Reviewing these photos reminded me that not only did I change, but my surroundings changed also.

I thought it might be fun that instead of talking about change, that I would show you change in my life and surroundings by showing photos.  I would call it before and after photos, but some are probably before, later, and after still to come.  So her goes:

This is me before and after.  Not much change except a bit of aging.  I suppose that is a process that cannot be stopped. These are both unretouched photos.  Ugh!

These are three of my grandkids and how they have matured these past 10 years.  They were young children, and are now young adults.  I love that I can relate to them as young adults, but I miss these cute and funny little kids.

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My home in the St. Louis area changed.  It is amazing how changing a floor, countertop, and stairway spindles can give a different look to a home.  I had that home built in 1999, and moved out when I married Dennis in 2013.

The biggest transformation was the home in Mid Missouri.  Here is how the outside looked, and then the transformation to what it looks like today.

And the interior of that house was the same way.  Dennis allowed me to put my touch on it.  We repainted the interior together.  It was frightening to see Dennis on a tall ladder to cut in at the ceiling at 20’ above the ground.

Also, here is the transformed kitchen.  Once again, only the floors and countertops were the big change.

One of the things you may have noticed is that I cleared things out.  When I was a kid I was messy.  I must have been really messy, because as a teenager my dad told me I could never get married unless I cleaned my room.  When I got engaged and called my best friend to tell her, she asked me if I cleaned my room!  I recall telling her that my dad was probably glad to get me and my messy room out of the house.  The funny thing about that is that as I have matured, and clutter really bothers me.  It almost makes me feel claustrophobic.  I need clean lines and a reduction of “stuff” to not feel overwhelmed.  I have learned over the years that less is more—at least for me.

In the last ten years I have changed, not only in appearance, but also on the inside.  I have more confidence than  I ever had.  Maybe I no longer feel I have to prove myself to someone, to be loved, to be valued in the work I do, to love and value my family and friends.  I have grown in my faith, and can see how the challenges I had in the past have made me a more loving compassionate person, and also ever more grateful for God’s loving grace of holding my hand and bringing me through some very tough circumstances.  I have moved from having a career in human resources to being retired, occasionally dipping my toe back into the field, but doing so less and less these days.

time fliesAs for all of us, it has been a decade of ups and downs.  It flew by faster than I could ever imagine.  By the time we end this decade, which will probably move at warp speed, I will be 81, God willing.  I look forward for this decade to be one that I can remain relatively healthy.  I say that because I have learned that once one turns 70, the wheels start falling off.  I will do what I can to keep the wheels in place and the engine running!  I will see grandchildren find their careers and their life partners.  I hopefully, sometime later in this decade, get to meet some great grandchildren, and watch my sons become grandparents themselves.  I know that this decade I will lose some more family and friends.  That is always difficult.  This decade I want to lean into my faith in Christ even more.  After all, being in his presence gets closer every day.  I want to be prepared!

I wish for you a decade of love, joy, peace, and contentment.  I wish for you to let go of what is not important in the scheme of things, and embrace your future, whatever it be, full steam.  May you look to the future with optimism no matter the circumstances.  Happy New Year in 2020 and beyond.

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Appreciating My Classmates

Since July, we have lost four (that we know of) high school classmates. My husband told me after our 50threunion, that by the time we get to our 60thyear reunion, half of our class will be deceased.  That sounded so unreal at the time, but when I hear of four deaths in the last few months, I guess his prediction might be correct.

It makes me sad when I think of those we have lost.  I didn’t know them well.  In fact, I didn’t know hardly any of my classmates when I was in high school. I knew them as acquaintances.  I didn’t hang out with any of them, and I didn’t date in high school.  They were kids I said “hello” to in the hallways or at the drama club activities where I was involved.  That was the best I knew them.

Move forward to our 40thclass reunion.  It wasn’t a big reunion.  We had 426 students in our class.  The 40threunion had an attendance right at 100, and that included spouses and dates, so there might have been maybe 50-60 classmates in attendance. Because it was a small reunion, and because we were now more mature, the planning committee decided to make everyone feel welcome.  We actually had a classmate register for the reunion who no one on the committee knew. We looked up his name in the yearbook, and he was not there, so we looked at the roster from graduation, and there he was, a part of our class.  We later found out that his family had moved to our school district his senior year, thus missing the senior photo in the yearbook, but graduating with our class.

One of the committee members made a statement that has stuck with me since. He said, “We are not 17 any longer. None of us knew him, but let’s make sure everyone feels welcome.”  That was a profound statement.  We are no longer 17.  We don’t care about cliques or status.  If you were in our class, we welcome you.

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The class of ’66  at their 40th reunion.

That is exactly how our 40threunion went.  The committee hung out around the room and tried to talk to as many attendees as possible.  During the evening we passed the microphone around and everyone from the class shared whatever they wanted about themselves and their lives.  We had a lovely time reacquainting, or even getting to know for the first time, folks from our class.  When the party was over, one of my classmates came up to me and told me that a group of them were going to a local bar afterwards and invited me to come along. My first thought was that when I was in high school, I was never invited to the parties or the after-parties. Yes, I decided to join them.  We sat around for another hour or so (about 30 of us), drinking alcohol or non-alcohol, and visited some more.  There was something that night the changed the way this class related to each other.

After that night, the group decided it was really fun to get together, and started a monthly dinner.  An email would go out, and we would respond if we were available, and the person would make reservations for whatever number at a local restaurant.  We IMG_5615ate dinner together, chit-chatted about whatever was happening in our day, and go home.  It was casual events.

Shortly after our 40threunion, one of the attendees died.  We were all taken off guard, because she seemed to be fine at the reunion.  After her death, we thought it might be good to have reunions every five years, instead of 10, because as we age, we will lose more classmates.

Those numbers didn’t start rolling in until around our 50threunion.  I was in charge of PR, and I send email after email to classmates.  I didn’t sell the reunion as one where we would reminisce about our glory days of high school, because the reality was that high school wasn’t all that great for many of us.  I would send emails out about the fact that we were grown up, and the one thing we all had in common was that we shared a space in time together in high school. Had it been a good or a bad experience, we are all grown up now, and we would love to see you again, or even for the first time, and get to know you.  We are at the age we are losing friends and family, and what a wonderful time to to rekindle old friendships and make new friendships.  I was beginning to get responses to the emails from classmates who were too ill to attend.

I sent emails almost monthly for 18 months prior to the reunion.  The last 6 weeks, I sent them almost weekly. I listed on each email who had registered.  I knew folks were looking for their old friends.  I established a class Facebook page, that is still widely used by classmates. Many who were unable to attend the reunion, happily joined our Facebook group page.

I would throw out questions on this new Facebook page.  The first question I threw out was, “If you could change anything about your high school experience, what would that be?”  That may not be the exact question, but that was the gist of it.  I was surprised to

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This was what we called “Senior Hall.”  All the seniors’ lockers were located here and that’s where the seniors hung out.

see so many people answer the question.  The interesting thing was that most of the people, the jocks, the popular kids, the ones no one knew, pretty much all of them, responded how those years were difficult and that they didn’t feel a part of things.  Wow!  It was kind of universal.  I remember one of the guys said he never asked any girl out because he was afraid of being rejected.  I opened the yearbook, looked up his photo, and he was this really cute young fellow. I didn’t know him hardly in high school, but over the years at reunions, I thought he was a really nice person.  I thought so many of those girls would have probably gone out with him, or like him, they didn’t see themselves in a good light either.

That’s when I realized that we are not who we were in high school. We have grown up and matured.  Interesting fact:  many of the popular kids from high school have never shown up for a reunion, while the not so popular kids have.  One of my classmates, who became a high school teacher, commented that in her experience teaching that some kids peak in high school—they are the cute ones, the popular ones, and then later in life, they don’t feel that about themselves, and we never see them again.  Then there are many of us who didn’t peak until we were adults, and we came back and found we were not so different from anyone else.

Our high school class is very unusual.  I have friends and family from the years around my class who say they are done going to reunions.  The last one they went to was a disaster, poor planning, unfriendly people, cliques still in place.  I wouldn’t have believed that had I not seen that for myself.

My sister is six years older than me.  The year of her 50threunion, her husband passed away, and she was really struggling.  I convinced her to come home for her reunion, and I and our other sister would be her dates for the reunion.  She wasn’t sure because she said her class was snobbish.  She did attend, and we were her dates.  She found some of her old friends (acquaintances) and we sat at the dinner together having a nice visit.  Then as people were mingling around the room, one of the “popular” girls came up to her and asked her who she was.  My sister introduced herself, and this lady replied, “No, I didn’t know you,” and turned on a dime and walked away.  You had to lift my jaw off the floor.  Really? Fifty years later you still act like a selfish 17 year old?  Wow!

So, over the last 13 years since our 40threunion, our class continues to connect.  We seem to have a class who “gets it.”  Popular, not popular, scholars, those of us who eaked our way through—all of us connect, we care about each other.  We root for each other and get concerned when we hear about a health crisis or a death in their families.  We get together whenever we can — the class of ’66 is still about a good party.  Dennis and I have entertained them at our home several times, the last time having an Eclipse party the day in 2017 of the total eclipse going directly over our home in Mid-Missouri.   A couple months ago, one of our classmates was celebrating her 50thwedding anniversary, and she invited her classmates to the party.  There were three large tables of her classmates that attended.  Did we all hang out with her in high school?  No, but we began to care deeply about her through our years together.

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Those from the class of ’66 attending the Eclipse Party (in their Eclipse Viewing Glasses).

I love that our class cares about each other.  We are from different backgrounds.  We are different religions, different political parties, different economic statuses, but we all shared a tiny bit of history together walking the same hallways in our youth.  Somehow, the class of 1966 from Lindbergh High School in St. Louis, Missouri, got it. I am so blessed to be from this class.

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The Class of ’66 at their 50th Reunion

So, yesterday, when one of our classmates posted that a fellow classmate had passed away, it was overwhelming to see the responses.  This particular classmate did not attend any reunions until the 50th.  He was active on Facebook, and many were connected to him that way.  Many classmates shared their sorrow of his death. I wonder if he ever realized that we all liked him and cared for him?

I don’t know what kind of high school you attended.  I don’t know if you are blessed to have a class like my high school class.  I just know that our class has a very strong connection to each other.  We love these old human beings we have become.  The St. Louis classmates still get together for lunches—yes, we could change to lunch instead of dinner since almost everyone is retired. Classmates living in Florida and the Florida snowbirds get together in the winter for lunches.  Since we have gone to Arizona, I have set up lunches there with classmates.  There are not a lot from our class there, so we have included a few years around our class also.

What is it about the Lindbergh High School Class of 1966?  I don’t know.  I just know that God has blessed us with wonderful people who care about each other (and their spouses and significant others).  We don’t care about our differences.  We care about the person.  We want to see them content, and healthy as possible.  We grieve with them when they lose their spouse or family member, and we all grieve when we lose them.

I miss those who cannot, for whatever reason, return to St. Louis for our get-togethers.  I really miss those who have passed.  You all made our experiences in high school and in later years richer.  Three cheers for this wonderful class that I have gotten to know over the years. 

40th Reunion

The photos of the Class of 1966 of Lindbergh High School, St. Louis, MO.  This photo hangs in the Alumni Hall with photos of all the graduating classes.

Women of Distinction

We hear a lot about amazing, strong women who are leaders in business, education or politics.  There were two women in my life who were not leaders like that, but they meant a lot to me.  Both of them are gone, and I miss them both very much.  Who are they, and what would I say if I had a chance to just say one more thing to them?

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The only photo I have of just me and my mom. Easter Sunday 1949.

My mom – Her name was Dorothy.  She was always old to me, because she was my mom— she was 30 years and 29 days older than me.  My mom loved from the farthest depths of her heart.

She saw heartache from a young age.  On June 10, 1935, at the age of 16, she and her mother survived an automobile accident where her best friend who was also her aunt and the same age as her, died instantly.  Along with my mom’s aunt, was my mom’s uncle and his newlywed wife of less than 24 hours who died in this crash.  My mom and grandmother survived this accident with minor injuries.  I am sure the real injuries for her were deep in her heart.  Sixty years later, I interviewed her about the accident.  She described it in detail—what she saw and what she heard—so heartbreaking.  My mother was thrown from the car—how did she survive that?  Had she not survived, I would not be here to write about her.

My mom was not formally educated, but she was one of the smartest people I have known.  She could add columns of numbers in her head.  When I was a child she would come home from the grocery store and lay her purchases out on the table.  She checked her receipt to the stamped prices on the cans and packages, like she was reconciling a bank statement.  If the store gave her too much change, she would drive back and return the money to them.

My mother received a settlement after the tragic car accident.  She took the money and attended Brown’s Business School in St. Louis, MO, where she studied bookkeeping.  She was a natural.  She was the bookkeeper for Mr. Pigeon who many will remember as the owner of Gramdpa Pigeon’s Stores.  She worked for Pigeon Vitrified China Company, which was before he opened his big discount stores.  She later became the office manager for my dad’s construction company, and her expertise was a major contributor to their success.

mom2 2Dorothy never forgot a birthday or an anniversary.  She sent cards and money to many people to celebrate their events.  She gave generously to others.  She fed my friends, she housed my out of town friends.  She drove us across the country so we could reunite with our friends at church camp.  In the days when my life was rough and finances were very tight, she would give me bags of groceries so I could feed my children.  She did not have one selfish bone in her body.

My mom did not have a great singing voice, but she sang a lot.  She taught us fun little songs like “Mairzy Doats.”  I don’t have a great singing voice either, but I sing.  I sing a whole rain medley when the weather takes a turn.  Usually when no one is listening, I sing silly songs, hymns, show tunes, and I sing along with the oldies.  She also could play a pretty mean harmonica!

When I was going through the roughest challenges of my life and was not coping well or making good decisions, my mother told me every time I saw her, “I love you and I am praying for you.”

Today I know that her prayers were answered, and to this day I feel the love she had for me, my sisters, and everyone who crossed her path.  What would I say to her if I could tell her just one thing?

Thanks, Mom, I will always feel your love, and I hope I can bestow that kind of love on everyone with whom I have contact.

Susan – She was my sponsor in my 12-Step program for codependency.  Her famous words were always, “Work the Steps.”

Susan22Being my sponsor was not what made her so important in my life—she became a dear and personal friend.  She was the best listener I have ever met.  She let me talk through whatever my issues were.  We talked about everything.  She always got a chuckle out of the crazy stuff that occurred around my life, and always wanted to know about my career, my online dating, my spiritual journey, my kids and grandkids.  She attended my youngest son’s plays and concerts in high school.  She attended my oldest granddaughter’s concerts and other events.  She rejoiced with me over my family’s accomplishments.

Other than my mom, she was the most generous person I have ever known.  Her home and swimming pool were open to me and my family any time.  She even provided all the pool toys.  My grandkids learned how to swim in Susan’s pool.

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Just a few of the many gifts from Susan, and also the “You Go Girl” pictured above.

When I met her, Susan was working at a Hallmark card store.  What a perfect place for her to work.  Even after she quit working, I got cards in the mail for my birthday, for Christmas, and sometimes just because she was thinking of me.  I have mementos all over my house of the sweet little gifts she would give me.  These are reminders of our sweet friendship.

When I was struggling to pull my life together, Susan was always encouraging me.  I had finally decided it was time for me to start attending church again.  I would get up Sunday morning with good intentions, drive my car to a church I wanted to visit, and then panic would set in, and I would turn the car around and go home.  I shared this struggle with Susan, and she told me not to get down on myself.  She said, “When you are ready, God will get you there.”  She was right!

Like my mom, Susan never said a bad word about anyone.  She loved people deeply, and people were drawn to her kindness.  To me, she had friends coming out of the woodwork.  I am sure every one of them felt as special as I did.

What would I say to her if I could tell her just one thing?

Thanks, Susan, for your devoted friendship, for all the great lunches and dinners together, for your sweetness and kindness to everyone who you met.  I hope I can be as kind and as generous to others as you have been to me

Both of these women (my mom and Susan) were quiet in the background kind of people.  They loved deeply, and they had generous hearts.  I am so much richer today because of these two very special women in my life.

Who would you want to thank?  Are they still with you today?  Tell them in person, if you can.  It will mean so much to them, and to you. 

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