Tag Archives: Friendship

I Do Love Gifts!

Businessman offerGifts — who doesn’t love gifts?  As a child, I loved receiving gifts for my birthday or Christmas.  As an adult, I love gifts that bring me memories of the giver.  I got thinking about that today, as I lay on the couch, recovering from the flu, watching the football playoffs, wrapped in a quilt my cousin randomly sent me recently.  Yeah, how often does that happen?  

One day I received a text message from her to be watching for a package to be delivered.  A package from the suburbs of Chicago sent to the suburbs of Phoenix!  I was curious, and had no idea what this package was.  This is what she said, “Expect a package from me on Tuesday for a belated house warming, early birthday wish and a Merry Christmas! I shipped it express mail from the post office and have a tracking number if it doesn’t get there.  Hope you like it!”  My reply was, “Oh okay. What a surprise. Are you coming in the box?  That would be super nice!  I’ll let you know when it arrives.”  When it arrived, I was so surprised to see this handmade quilt from one of my favorite quilter cousins. IMG_1083IMG_1084

What I don’t think givers of gifts realize (at least, to me), is that the gift is not the only thing, but the gift brings memories of the giver each time I look at it or use it.  So, here I am wrapped in this quilt that lays on my living room couch, and I think of Peggy, our years growing up, her kids and grandkids, our times together as adults, and it just makes me happy.

aunt maryI came to this reality years ago, when out of the blue, Peggy’s mom, my aunt, called me and gave me a similar message that Peggy sent.  “Be expecting a delivery.”  My Aunt Mary told me that she found the complete nativity set to the three original pieces I had, and she bought them for me.  It was 2000, and I had recently moved into my new home in St. Charles, Missouri.  I told my aunt that the gift for no reason was too extravagant, and she said it was a house warming gift of something she knew I would like.  Every single year I put out this Coleport by Wedgewood nativity set, and I think of Aunt Mary.  Many times when I would be setting it out for the holidays, I would stop, call her, and make a trip to visit.  The last time I did this, I realized she was slipping.  I told her I came to see her because when I set out this set, it reminds me to visit.  I pulled out my iPad and showed her a photo of the set sitting in my living room. Twice through this visit, she would look at me and ask if I still had the nativity set.  Shortly after that, she passed.

I have informed my children that of all the nativity sets I own, this one is financially valuable, and emotionally valuable to me.  Do not just donate to some charity.  Someone of my kids or grandkids who might cherish this gift I got from Aunt Mary should be the one to take it.  If none of them or interested, maybe they will contact someone of Aunt Mary’s grandchildren and see if they would like it.  Once again, this past Christmas, as I set up this nativity, which each piece is individually boxed in molded styrofoam in a cardboard box labeled by the manufacturer the name of each character, I think of Aunt Mary.  I think of all the times I went to her home as a child to play with my cousins.  Aunt Mary had seven children, so there were lots of cousins, but two were near my age who I played with the most.  Then over the years, I became friends will all of them, older and younger.  When my mom died, Aunt Mary (my mom’s youngest sibling) and I spent much time together, having dinner, watching movies, and spending late nights talking.  I always thought she was taking me under wing with the loss of my mom, but today, I believe I also filled void for her of the sister she was so close to over the years.

SusanI have a ton of little gifts from my friend, Susan Durbin.  She was my sponsor in my 12-step group for codependency, and we became fast friends for years following that.  Most of her gifts were Christmas decor, since my birthday is in December, and she is the great giver of gifts, mostly of giving herself.  I also have little things around the house that are not Christmas gifts.  Whenever I see these items, my thoughts go to Susan, to her sponsorship of helping me to learn to “let go and let God,” to fun times we had doing lunches and dinners, attending my son’s and my granddaughter’s school events, hosting us every summer at her swimming pool where all my grandkids learned to swim.  Her little gifts remind me of the wonderful love we had as friends.  She has been gone for over five years, but these little items bring her spirit back to me.  They bring a smile to my face, that I have been blessed to have her as a friend for so many years.

giftsEven gifts like the multitude of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit we received from cousins who generously shared from their trees here in Arizona — every time we ate the fruit or something cooked or baked with those fruits, my thoughts would go to cousins, Joani, Richard, and Janine, for their generosity, but it also brought back memories of times with them in the past, and now enjoying their friendships currently in Arizona.  All these gifts are bigger because of the givers.

And, then there is the gift that was given to me, that I also did not ask for, did not expect, and definitely did not deserve.  The gift of God’s love and redemption for me through Jesus Christ.  Whenever I am in the presence of the gift, in worship, prayer, in fellowship with other Christians, I am reminded of so many memories, of how God has redeemed me.  How through the death of Jesus, he freely took my sins on himself so I could be in Businessman offerfellowship with God.  I didn’t do any thing to deserve this gift, God gave it freely, lovingly.  It wasn’t an easy gift.  Jesus, being man and God, struggled before his death.  Matthew 26:9 states, 

“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’”  Jesus prayed if this “cup” (what was his coming death) could be removed, but then he knew it was His will to give his life for each of us.  It was a gift.  It is free!  No strings attached!  We just have to take it, just like I accepted the nativity set, the quilt, and all other gifts I did nothing to earn.  I took the gift.  I accepted Jesus’ death as the punishment for my sins, and accepting that gift, I am a child of the God Most High.  I am a daughter of the King!  Wow!  What a gift!  What memories I have and future memories I will have in His eternal presence.

Thank you, friends and family, for gifting me and helping to remember you as dear friends and family.  And, thank you, Lord, for gifting me, so that I am in your family for eternity.  It is the best gift I will ever receive.Romans 5-8

 

Best Friends

Today I have been thinking about my best friend.  Actually, today my best friend is my husband, Dennis.  I had been single about two decades when I met Dennis.  In those years, I had many girlfriends, and one who I could say was my best friend.  She was the Susan22one person who I could talk to about anything.  Susan rejoiced in my good news, and listened like a trooper when things weren’t going well for me.  She never judged me, she just knew how to be there for me.  We had many lunches and dinners together, went to movies together, attended my kid’s and grandkid’s school performances.  She was the ultimate card sender.  I have so many little gifts around my home that she gave me, and when I look at them, I think of her and it makes me smile.  

About the time I met Dennis, Susan was starting to have some serious health issues.  We still hung out together.  She always loved hearing about my escapades of the men I met through Match, and she was especially happy for me when I started to tell her about Dennis.  The last time I saw her in person was when Dennis and I got engaged.  After I married Dennis, I moved about 90 miles away.  I would call her several times, but always got her voice mail.  I ended up writing her a few times, and I knew deep inside that she was not doing well.  One day I got notice that my very dear friend had passed away.  My heart was broken.  I do not handle loss well, and losing her was so tough.  

I am married to Dennis, and I know he is supposed to be my best friend, but it had been so many years, and I was just trying to figure out how to be a wife again.  I had been single for so long.  I didn’t have to answer to anyone, and did pretty much as I pleased.  IMG_4823Now, Dennis never asked me or even hinted to me that I needed to answer to him, but I knew I now was in a permanent relationship, and I need to give him my love and attention.  I do have to say that he made that pretty easy for me.  My husband has a servant’s heart.  I watch him with his 99 year old mom, as he treats her so kindly, and not only her, he treats all the people at her nursing home so sweetly.  He will bring them coffee at lunch, and help them to their chairs.  I watch him help my children move, help his son move, be there for his nieces and nephews.  

Today, I had a doctor’s appointment, and we went together.  It was cold outside, so he offered to drive the car to the door to drop me off, and then park the car.  It was so sweet, and so unnecessary.  I told him that I was not a diva and didn’t need to be dropped off while he parked.  I like walking in the door with him.  I like that we are partners together.  When we do projects at our home we do them together.  I love painting walls, he does not.  So, he will prep the room.  He will bring me the equipment, and then he will leave me alone to do my thing, but he will also show back up if I need his help to reach where I cannot, or for anything I may need.  My husband makes beds and cleans bathrooms!  Wow!  How did I find this guy?

Those are not the reasons that he is my best friend.  In my blog last week, I shared something that I wrote years ago.  It was actually about my fear of losing my best friend, Susan.  As I finished that writing, I stated, “God will give me what I need.  If I lose my friends, and if I need friends, God will lead me to new ones.  Don’t be afraid.”  I had found Dennis—or Dennis found me—or better yet, God brought us together.  What I wrote so many years ago was true, “If I lose my friends, and if I need friends, God will lead me to new ones.”

IMG_1670I will be married to Dennis for five years this August.  We have been in each others company daily since we got married.  There have been  only a handful of days where we were geographically apart.  We do almost everything together.  For a girl who did most things alone, this was a real change, and at first was a bit uncomfortable, not bad, just didn’t know how to do that.  The funny thing is, I don’t get tired of him.  We can sit in a room and be doing our own thing, reading, on the computer, watching TV, or whatever, but it feels completely natural.  He is good about helping clean, but the kitchen scares him to death!  I take care of the cooking.  We are both alive because of that!  I have eaten only one meal he has cooked.  We still laugh about it.  I was sick, so he cooked for me.  I was instantly healed so I could cook real food again!

Dennis is my best friend because I trust him completely.  He doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body.  He is my best friend because he treats me with respect.  He thinks I’m smart—that really helps.  I have a very right-sided brain compared to his really left-sided brain, and we balance each other so well.  He laughs at my jokes and my stupid actions.  You really don’t want to hear me sing my medley of songs about whatever subject we are FullSizeRenderdiscussing, or try to see how low I can get my voice to go just to say something stupid.  I love the sound of words, so I love pronouncing them over and over to the point of stupidity, and then just start laughing.

When I met Dennis, he was a retired CEO.  I was worried he would be a stuffed shirt.  I was worried he had no sense of humor.  He says he was pretty serious when he was working. I cannot imagine it—he is so funny and goofy today.  We just love laughing together.

I realized today, that my husband is my best friend.  He knows everything about me, knows my ups and downs, knows when I am having a bad or good day.  He is my cheerleader.  He makes me feel loved, protected, needed, and beautiful.  I have been blessed.  God did give me a new best friend, like I never thought would ever happen for me.  I am blessed.

Best Friends Bff GIF-downsized_large

Losing Friends Too Soon

One of the things I have come to learn about myself is that I am a connector. I love connecting people together. I love connecting and reconnecting with people. Later in my career, when I took my “strengths” test to see what my strengths were, “Connectedness” was one of my top five strengths. Over the years I have reconnected with friends from my youth. I think it is especially because of one particular friend who taught me that life is short, and we have so much history with our friends, that reconnecting is all the more meaningful to me.

When I was a kid, as I had mentioned before, our family was active in a small European church. The churches on the whole were small. Their congregations were made up of mainly German, Hungarian, Serbian, and Slovakian people. We had a few activities that brought us together throughout the country. It included summer camp for all ages in three parts of the country, and an annual “Youth Rally,” although it was open to everyone (maybe it made the older folks feel young). These were so important to me. My parents were very strict, and my social life was to revolve around the church kids.

Midwestern camp was my highlight of the year. When I was a teenager, I went to camp in Indiana. I had friends from Illinois and Ohio whom I looked forward to spending time with for the week. We went to Bible classes and services, hanging out, flirting with the boys, giggling with the girls, and campfires where we sang gospel songs. I have many friends who I have reconnected with on Facebook who are from these days.

friends

Steph on the left. I am next to her.

One of my special friends from this time was Steph, short for Stephanie. She was a unique individual. She had a strong personality, and there was never a time you didn’t know what she thought. She wasn’t afraid to speak out on any subject in which she had strong feelings! I was always impressed by her because her hair was always perfect, and I don’t think her clothes were ever wrinkled.  She was just so put together. One year at camp, we taught ourselves finger spelling from a book about Helen Keller. She would go to choir practice at camp. I was not a singer, so I would sit in the balcony of the chapel during the choir practice, and we would finger spell messages to each other—usually about the boy we had a crush on at the time! We were also night owls, so one night after everyone fell asleep in the dorm, we quietly snuck around and chatted with our friends sleepingwho were asleep. We found out that if they were sleeping and if we didn’t fully wake them up, they would talk to us in their sleep. We would ask them questions, and because they were asleep, they would answer, but usually with something nonsensical which made us laugh, although we had to laugh quietly so we wouldn’t wake anyone up, especially our dorm leaders who would know we were up and around after “lights out.” We also learned that some people just don’t like to be bothered while they are sleeping, one in particular who swung her arm at us in her sleep. Fortunately, we ducked to keep from being hit, and it put us into a fit of giggling, which we had to do very quietly.

When camp was over, we all went home with shared addresses so we could write to each other. Steph was a prolific writer. She would send me a letter which was several pages. One of the things I remember about her letters was her beautiful penmanship. The day I received her letter, I would answer her with an equally long letter. I have no idea what all we wrote about, but I know we shared everything we did and everything thought about. When she received my letter, she would reply the same day also, so every few days, we were receiving mail with a lengthy letter.

Then we grew up. I went away to college, and she went to nursing school. My family had started going to a different church, so we were no longer going to the summer camps, and anyway, I was too busy with my new friends to be thinking about these summer camps. Time marched on and we had occasional connections. One day, Steph contacted me that she was going to Colorado with her boyfriend, Roger, and wanted to stop in St. Louis to see me. I barely remember the visit, but I know she came to my home. I was married and had four very young children, and she and Roger spent the evening with our family.  After that, somehow we lost contact. Years went by. In the mid to late 90’s I was visiting with my mother’s cousin from Ohio. He still attended the church in Ohio of the denomination that we had belonged. I told him that I often wondered about two of my really good friends from Ohio, Marylou and Steph.  Dave went back home to Ohio and proceeded to find their addresses for me. I don’t remember how he connected with me, but he gave me both Marylou’s and Steph’s addresses. That Christmas I sent them Christmas cards with notes and included my current mailing address and my email address. I got a letter back from Marylou, and we have sent Christmas cards back and forth since then. I love to this day seeing her photo cards of her husband, children, and grandchildren. It such a joy to still be in contact with her. Although, I am writing about Steph, Marylou was one of my best friends, but she was not good at writing. Marylou actually came to St. Louis to attend my high school graduation, and when I got married, her parents showed up at my wedding. I was honored that they drove all the way from Mansfield, Ohio to attend my wedding. I still think about how much that meant to me.

graduation

Marylou at my graduation.

So, I heard from Marylou, but not from Steph. My friend, who was raised in Barberton, Ohio, is missing in my head. I decided to send her a Christmas card the next year, once again giving her my mailing address and my email address. I decided that if I did not hear back from her, that I would accept that she decided to move on with her life, and I would stop sending her Christmas cards. A few months after Christmas, I received a letter from Steph. She told me that she received the first card, but was in the hospital at the time and was not up to writing. She went on to say that she was very ill and waiting on a liver transplant. Thus, our correspondence began.

crashingInstead of letters, we were now emailing each other. Steph was married to Roger, and they now had two teenage children. Time sure does fly! I don’t know what kind of computer she had, but every so often, I wouldn’t hear from her in a while. Whenever that happened I got concerned because she was not in good health. I would send her an email or two, hoping she was okay.  Sshe wrote back and apologized because she was having computer problems, and one time she mailed a note because her computer crashed. Back in the late 90’s PC’s crashed a lot! I was always relieved to hear from her again.

In the summer of 1998, she sent me an email and said she and her family would be coming through St. Louis on their vacation. Her son, who was about 14, was a baseball fan, and he and Roger were going to go to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Steph wasn’t interested in the game, nor was her 16 year old daughter. Steph wanted me to meet her and Lori for dinner the night of the game. It was so good to see her. She apologized to me for how she looked. She was very self conscious about the apparent red spots on her neck and chest. She said that was from her liver disease. Actually, I had not noticed, and I thought she looked wonderful in spite of being so ill. We had a wonderful time at that dinner, and getting to know her daughter, Lori. Then Steph suggested I come to the St. Louis Zoo with the family the next day. I felt a bit awkward because I had not seen her in years and was wondering if I was intruding on their family vacation, but she assured me that she wanted me to be there. The next day I went to the zoo with Steph, Roger, Lori, and Mark. We spent the day together and had a wonderful time.

I remember one particular email when she asked the question of how sick does one have to be to get to the top of the transplant list. She was never on top. Family and friends were scrambling to find her a living donor. She told me she had an offer from a cousin’s husband, but he had been rejected. We continued writing. Time went on, and Steph was still waiting for a donor liver. In the spring on 2000, she told me that her younger brother had offered to donate for her. She at first rejected the offer because he was completing dental school, and he was engaged to get married. The family intervened and convinced her to accept this life-giving gift. Her brother was now going through all the testing for the transplant procedure. The plan was to have the transplant early summer. I wanted to go to Ohio and visit with her. She told me to wait until about a month or so after the transplant, because she would be feeling good, and we could enjoy our time together. I was set to fly to Ohio for a visit in late summer or early autumn.

Once again, there was a gap in our email writing. I was always glad I had a Mac that didn’t have these issues of crashing like old PC’s did. I didn’t get a note in the mail this time. Now I was beginning to worry about my old friend. I sent a few emails, the kind that said, “Steph, where are you? Are you okay? I’m getting worried about you.”

I was getting a new house built at this time and had sold my current home, and was living in a temporary apartment while my house was being built. I asked my boss at work if I could get my emails at work so I didn’t have to go to the trouble of setting up cable and internet at a temporary place. He was okay with that, so the important people in my life started emailing me to my work email.

One day in early June, Kay, my administrative assistant walked into my office. I was in tears at my desk. She stepped out of the office and looked around thinking I had an unpleasant encounter with someone at work. She walked in again, shut the door and sat down across from me and asked me what was wrong. I looked at her and started crying again, and I started reading an email I had just received. I still have that email—I printed it and saved it.

00 stephIt started, “Andrea, I regret to reply with sad news about Steph. Steph was called home by her heavenly father on June 2nd. It was a great a shock to all of us, how sudden and the agonizing series of events.” This was an email from Steph’s email account but written by her husband, Roger, to me. He said that Steph was so happy with the anticipation of her surgery (the upcoming transplant). In late May, she called Roger and he rushed home to find her lying on the floor short of breath. He called 911 and within minutes they were rushing her to the hospital. They stabilized her at the local hospital, and then transferred her to the Cleveland Clinic, where her specialists were waiting for her. That next day, her husband went home to get his daughter ready for prom. Steph was sitting up in bed and doing well, and was going to be transferred from ICU to a regular room. When he returned to the hospital a few hours later, the doctors were waiting form him to inform him that she took a “nose-dive” and needed to go into emergency surgery. She had a 4-hour surgery in the early evening to stop the internal hemorrhaging. At 9:00 am the next morning, the doctor took her back into surgery for over 3 hours to stop additional hemorrhaging.

Steph did not do well after that second surgery, and was placed on dialysis. Now it was the following Thursday, a week later, and the day of her daughter’s graduation. Roger told me that Lori was the president of her class and was to give a speech at graduation. He said, “Lori, class president, was a true champion at graduation. Led the class into the auditorium, gave her speech, and marched out with her head high, so proud, which she had every right to be.” What a sweet dad to acknowledge his daughter’s bravery at such a difficult time in their lives. Steph held on until Saturday evening, June 2, 2000, surrounded by her husband, children, her mom, and her pastor.  Roger stated, “A recording of the Hallelujah chorus was playing when Steph was taking her final breathes [sic].”

My friend Steph was loved by many people. Over 400 people attended her memorial service. As Roger stated, “Steph was unique but you always knew what she thought.” So true. He could not have described her any better. She was truly one of a kind. She had a heart of gold. She also had many, many opinions of which she was not afraid to share. She was honest to the core.

As I was reading this email to my friend, Kay, I looked up and saw that she was also in tears. Even in her death, Steph makes an impact. I miss her. I miss our candid conversations. I know she would be so happy for me how things in my life finally fit together.

I do not know what has happened with Steph’s family. It has been almost 18 years since her passing. My guess is that over time their hearts have healed. Roger may have remarried. He was young (in my definition of young), and the kids have grown into adults, are probably married, and have children of their own. I am sure they have great stories to tell their kids about their very wonderful and unique grandmother who they will not meet until they get to Heaven.

I am still touched by Roger’s email. At the end he said, “Hope I didn’t overwhelm you with details. It’s good therapy for me. She really appreciated your friendship and had a lot of fond memories of you . . . We serve a loving God and I pray he will comfort you as you grieve over the loss of a good friend.”  He is comforting me in my sorrow. Pretty amazing and powerful.  I am so grateful that I reconnected with Steph, and we picked up our friendship right where we left off.  I am so glad we spent time together in St. Louis.  I am glad I wasn’t so busy that I couldn’t spend the day at the zoo.  Those were the last days I saw her.

There is so much to learn from this. This is what I have learned:

  • Life is short. Love and cherish everyone you encounter. You never know if it is the last encounter with them.
  • Make time for your friends.  Don’t be so busy to miss out on possibly the last time you may see someone.
  • Even in grief, one can minister to another, as Roger did to me as he wrote this incredible email.
  • We have a loving God who gave his life for us, and gives us an abundant life daily.
  • Even in times of grief, we can feel the loving arms of God encircle us.
  • I will never forget the friendship I had with Steph. She was special.

God bless you! When life is tough, lean into God. He will hold you!

The last verse that Roger shared in his email:
phil 4-13

 

Do You Have Class?

00 Andrea

My Senior Photo 1966

Class reunions — have you ever attended one? Why do we get together for such events? A better question — what can we make of such events? Are they for getting together and reminiscing about our youth and the crazy things we have done? Are they for us to show up and show everyone we really made it in the world? What are the reasons you have attended or not attended a reunion?

I have attended several high school class reunions. I attended the 10th, 20th, 40th, 45th, and 50th. When I was a senior in high school, the thought of being 50 years older sounded like an impossibility. Surely we would all be dead by then, because isn’t 67 or 68 years old really ancient to a 17 and 18 year old? Ha!

lindberghschoolsI attended Lindbergh High School in St. Louis, Missouri. I didn’t have any friends in high school. I had acquaintances, some really nice acquaintances, but not true friends. I am the youngest of three daughters in my family, My dad was an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. at the age of ten. My mom was a first generation American—both her parents were immigrants. They were hard workers, and went for the American dream. My dad started a business as a building contractor when I was a little girl. He said during that time we kids wore patches on our patches. I don’t remember being poor. I don’t think children know what poor is—if they are in a loving home, they are fed, and have clothes to wear, they don’t know that their parents are struggling to make ends meet. My parents never went to high school. They thought their daughters needed to be educated, but I don’t think they really were sure what that meant.

My parents were also very religious. My whole upbringing revolved around the church. We were in church every Sunday. My mother taught Sunday School, and she was the church treasurer. The “approved” people for me to be friends with were the kids from church.  We attended a small church. Almost everyone was related. There was probably never over 50 people, if that many, in attendance any Sunday. My social life revolved around church.

When I was in high school, I got involved my junior and senior years in drama club. I 00 Junior Playwas not an actor. I probably could have been, but I had no confidence in myself, so I was happy to take roles working on the business side of productions. I did publicity. I still have copies of the newspaper articles I wrote for the local newspapers promoting the Junior Play, “Meet Me in St. Louis.” I worked back stage at our largest production, the annual variety show, and my senior year I was in charge of ticket sales. I carried a lot of money on me everyday selling tickets, reconciling the sales to the tickets, and daily turning in the proceeds to the school office.

00 66 class

LHS Class of 1966

I worked with many classmates, but I didn’t socialize with these classmates. I never felt as good as I thought they were. I know that sounds funny, but I thought they were all connected with each other.  They went to school dances together. I wasn’t allowed to go to dances. They joined clubs and the girls had sleepovers. I wasn’t part of that.

So, the first reunion rolled around 10 years after graduation. I still remember it. I was now married, had two children, and just found out that I was pregnant with baby #3, but not showing. I felt good about my ten years of accomplishments—I had a bachelor’s degree, a husband, a house, and 2.5 children. I think I went to the reunion because I was curious how my classmates did. I liked them, and cared to see them. I also think I wanted them to know I was successful like them. I wasn’t the odd girl who couldn’t associate with them. Whatever . . . .

I went on to attend the 20th, and then took a break for whatever reason until the 40th reunion. I even volunteered to be on the committee for the 40th reunion. This reunion was a turning point for me. We were at a committee meeting, and the registrations were rolling in. There was a person who registered for the reunion that none of us on the 00 40thcommittee recognized as a classmate. He must have been, he was on our list of alumni, and he responded. One of the committee members stated that we were no longer 17. It didn’t matter if we didn’t know him, we needed him to feel welcome. Wow! We were no longer thinking like teenagers. That was the beginning of the best reunions. There was a small turnout. We had 426 graduates in our class, and the total turnout was about 100 with half being spouses. We passed around the microphone and let each classmate share whatever they wanted. We talked to everyone, and the evening was a success. That evening one of my classmates came up to me and invited me to join a large group of them going to a local bar after the reunion. Really? I’m in the “in-crowd” and have been invited to an after party?

That reunion was the beginning of a shift in our class reunions. Everyone had such a good time that a group of local classmates got together informally at a restaurant for dinner on a bimonthly basis. This is how I started to become friends with a group of folks that I didn’t even associate with in high school.

IMG_5617We repeated the small reunion for our 45th. I really pushed for the 45th reunion because shortly after our 40th, one of our attendees passed away. We had good addresses for the class, and we were getting older. Time to meet more often. Once again, we connected, not as buddies from high school, but as adults who had lived life.

Last year we had our 50th reunion. It was by far the best reunion we had. Approximately 10% of our class are deceased. It may be more—there are about 100 folks whom we have lost all contact information. Some could be deceased in that group also. We had a very large turnout of classmates, who traveled from afar to attend. I set up a Facebook page exclusively for the reunion, and over 150 joined that page. For over a year, we had conversations on this page about our lives as classmates. That Facebook group page is still going strong. People still post on it, and some even plan events for the group on this page.

A few things we all learned over the 50 years:

  • We were all insecure in high school.
  • We have all gone through life with good things and bad things happening throughout our journey.
  • We don’t care who you were in high school, but we care about you now.
  • Just because we weren’t friends in high school doesn’t mean we cannot become friends as adults.
  • No one was or is better than the other.

14468569_10210365500231524_2316933569860910525_oI now have a lot of friends, or really great acquaintances, from high school. The group in St. Louis still get together on occasion. One classmate who lives out-of-town wanted to see everyone when she came home for Christmas, thus the annual Faux New Years party began. This year will be the third such party. It is called a Faux New Years party because it occurs one evening between Christmas and New Years at a local restaurant, and we are usually done before midnight.

I have learned that we may not be best friends, but we love to see each other, and to share our lives today. This past August my husband and I hosted an Eclipse Party at our home. We live in an area of total eclipse. About 20 classmates and their spouses drove 90 miles to our home to spend the day, having a pot luck, watching the eclipse, swimming in the pool, and visiting. Not a single one of these folks did I hang out with in high school. It doesn’t matter. We are not 17 anymore.

I have heard other people say that their high school class is still snobbish even years later. That is too bad. They lose the joy of getting to know each other, and caring about them in their later years. Our group is diverse. We are not the same politically, or by religion, or life style. The thing that is important is that we shared a small time in history together, and now we have reconnected to appreciate what each has lived for 50 years, and we rejoice in their good news, and we grieve along with them in their hard times.

What a blessing to be able to go full circle with a group of people from my youth.

Version 2

All my friends (who weren’t my friends) at the 2017 Eclipse Party.

“The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one!”

~ C.S. Lewis