In response to popular demand…actually, as the old radio shows used to say, “Keep those cards and letters pouring in”— well, I had “one card” pour in this week. An old friend from high school days queried why I had not written a follow-up to the “Sentimental Journey.” For whatever reason I have been hesitant to blog because it did turn out to be truly a bittersweet experience.
The time with my mother was as good as could be hoped. Though she cannot respond in any way, she did open her eyes and look at me with what I hope was recognition. For a couple of hours I read the Bible and sang some songs. Her condition seems to have worsened and so, at 90 years of age, it’s difficult to see how she could have much longer in this life. My prayer is that she will not linger like this.
Then came the reunion of the Class of ’65, in reality a 60th birthday party for the whole bunch. What an absolute JOY! I must say that at least 75% of the crowd looked vaguely familiar (just kidding). There were a few who have not changed one iota in 42 years. I would have known them anywhere. There were a few who have changed a lot whom I would not have known anywhere. Then there were the rest of us who have changed in the normal process of aging and were recognizable after a quick look (squint actually—they were way too small) at the name tag.
Humility was the order of the day. Of course, I thought that I hadn’t changed much and everyone would know me. How wrong I was! My friend—since 3rd grade, same church, football, basketball, etc.—told me he looked at me for 5 minutes before he knew who I was (and he wasn’t the only one). More humbling than that was my first high school girl friend (nameless to protect the guilty). I walked up to her and said, “I’m Walter.” She still had no idea who I was. We did talk later and laughed about it. At the beginning of the evening we were both suffering “reunion shock.”
For all of you who are planning on attending a reunion after many years of being away—one word of caution. “Reunion shock” is truly overwhelming, at least at first. When we drove up and I saw a crowd of people, I didn’t see one person I recognized. That’s scary. The girl who didn’t recognize me said she was having the same reaction. So be forewarned. But go anyway. You’ll love it.
Now to the real reflection on that experience. As I sat talking with some of my former classmates this truth came to mind: This is not my life now. It was my life then and I have such great memories. But my life now is with my wife and kids and my church family where God has providentially led me through the years. Remembering youth is nice; attempting to recapture it is dangerous. I came away from that reunion doubly blessed. Grateful for old friends and good memories but also profoundly thankful for where the Lord has me now. Who would have ever thought.........waaaayyyyy back then?