The best of times…

The draft had been sitting on my desk for a few weeks in preparation of an after-reunion blog post.  Shortly after I walked in the door late last evening, I opened the folder and read over all that I imagined this gathering would be in the months and days leading up to the event.  Notes were everywhere, scribbled on pads or left in my phone, both safe havens for thoughts that randomly fly into your head, thoughts so very much worth saving.

I wondered, should I rush to share a review or give it a few days?  Maybe more time was in order to properly reflect back over a night of celebration that ended all too quickly.  Deciding that this was the best plan, I shut down my computer around 4 a.m. and headed for bed.

My mind, unfortunately, kept working. 

How do you turn off something that, after months of preparation and anticipation, exploded into a wonderful frenzy of hugs, kisses and tears?  The energy of the evening’s festivities kept playing through my head but I fought the urge to sit down and put together a few paragraphs.  Haste wouldn’t do justice to my attempt at describing an event I once wasn’t even sure I would attend.

Morning came and I paced, notebook in hand, writing down bits and pieces as I walked around my home.  I stopped to check Facebook now and then as classmate-friends posted photos taken over the past two days and scrolled through some candid shots on my phone and camera.  In each picture, I could still hear the laughter and feel the warmth of the hugs as many of us met again after more than twenty-five years, some not since our graduation in 1964.  

It’s now after 6 on a Sunday evening and the words are in a holding pattern over my head, waiting to make their final landing. 

Back in 1989, our 25th reunion had most of us at a point in our lives where we were very full of ourselves.  Careers, growing families, much to boast about and those of us who attended that event did just that.  Faces were still familiar and the groups of classmates who had grown up together in the same neighborhoods and attended the same elementary schools gently partitioned themselves off from those who didn’t share that special bonding.   This interpretation is not a criticism of who we all were back then; we were a graduating class of 775 students who could not possibly have all known each other at any point in time.  Various conversations shared similar comments to this effect, over and over,  just twenty-four hours ago. 

We’ve grown.  Older, yes.  Wiser…most definitely!  Last evening we perused name tags, as I predicted we would, but this time around it was different.  With the exception of a scant few people, most looked at a tag, then the person wearing it and, well, it was almost magical with each burst of recognition!  Let’s face it, so much of that former physical familiarity has changed but as we all walked around the banquet room, in search of,  we took the time to embrace a smile we once knew, a voice we once spent time talking with or that person who made us feel special each time they passed us in the school hallways by just saying…hello.  Last night we boasted, of course, about our grandchildren, retirement and travels.  This time around, we also shared the sadness in our lives,  the loss of loved ones, divorces, illnesses and were no longer divided little groups.  The hugs and words exchanged were genuine and from each of our hearts.  Last night, we were on common ground.  We did, in fact, share the best of times.

As with so many things, our celebration ended much too soon but the memories will linger until my end of time on this planet.  Saying good-bye was difficult, at least for me, and I chose not to say those words, to anyone.  I’d much rather leave that door open and be ready to say hello…again.

Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime
We’ll take the best forget the rest and some day we’ll find…these were the best of times

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Things we leave behind…

 

 

As I stuck my hand into the half-empty box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I thought back to their visit which ended all too soon.  Back and forth texts with my daughter prior to their arrival gave me ideas on favorite food items for my two Grandsons.  This crunchy cereal was one and a nice departure from the Cheerios that always take up space in our pantry.  I made a mental note to myself to keep a box of this sugary sweetness on my grocery list from now on.  It was also a pleasant flashback; I visualized my Jake and Jaden sitting at our breakfast table, waiting for my morning hugs and kisses.

Visits with my Florida family inevitably bring about those necessary conversations that most of us have with our children, especially as we see our years slowly winding down.  Yes, I know, that’s what Wills are for but all of that legalese is nothing more than a road map which directs our loved ones over the things we leave behind; a cold, emotionless group of 8 1/2 by 14 inch pages which are an accounting of someone’s life.  Yet, without this paperwork, those conversations or scribbled notes tucked in a drawer which involve promises of just who will get this or that, often end up resulting in heated disputes.  The result?  Family members end up retreating behind a permanent wall of separation which was never the intent of the departed loved one.  Been there, done that with my late in-laws, do not want to repeat it!

Jen and I talked endlessly about stuff, my stuff.  I was adamant on how each of my children must share equally in the collections, memorabilia, jewelry, all precious to me and things I want my family to treasure and pass down for generations that will follow.   Boxes in the attic that will be opened each holiday season and have my family remember a story behind each Christmas ornament.  Cookware that my Grandchildren will use and remember when Gramma had their favorite meal simmering slowly on the stove. We walked through my home where I pointed out various items and shared the story behind each one.  Timeless pieces of jewelry that my two daughters will wear and lovingly pass down to their children.  Neatly labeled photographs that chronicle our beginnings as a family and others that survived being discarded during my late mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s.  And, of course, we had that conversation.  The uncomfortable one about what to do with me when I stop being…me.  Simple.  My philosophy is to leave the land to the living.  Just put me into something vintage and decorative.  Don’t scatter me over any body of water.  I can’t swim.

In my heart I know how overwhelmed my kids will be at some point in the future as they wade through years of memories and I so want each of them to hold on to all that was important to me and have it remain part of their lives, of their traditions.  Of course, my wishes, and my husband’s, will be outlined over an almost cryptic series of pages but I want my children to remember our present day special talks that will help them read between some specialized legal language.

Mostly, I want those I’ve loved so dearly to always remember that, while there might be far better things than any we leave behind, every memory that is packed away in some box, resting on a shelf or in a cabinet, belongs to them.  And, a note I’ve left tucked between the pages of a book, well, that will be a reminder to enjoy all the stuff that made me their Mom!

                                                    

                                                                  

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Brief moments, lifetime memories…

Excitement is starting to build.  At least for me.  Finally.

It’s just four months away.  People are making their plans and many of us are getting to know each other again…some for the first time.  Okay, I’ll admit that I was totally on-the-fence about this gathering at first and blogged about my skepticism this past October.  Going back twenty-five years to our last big reunion event, all I had was my tattered yearbook to look into and pull up familiar faces…and memories.  Now, my high school graduation class mingles on social media to check out the endless before photographs of the way we once were while smiling to see all that we’ve become.

Yes, as I’ve written about before…it’s The Big One..my 50th high school reunion.

And, suddenly, we all have so much to share.  Doors have been opening to new friendships and old ones are warming-up, awaiting the night when we walk in the door and search for a special smile that we remember from years ago.  Sure, we’ve all grown older matured, but the passing of time hasn’t altered what made each of us unique, in our own way.  Facebook has brought many of us together in ways we couldn’t have imagined back in high school days.  Now, we find ourselves liking family photos or status updates, offering prayers and wishes when someone is in pain and sending Candy Crush gifts or, better yet, Words With Friends challenges.

 

I wasn’t a high school mover and shaker back then.  Mostly, I stayed in the background trying to find a place where I fit in but that provided me with the advantage of observing and getting to know classmates on an entirely different level.   Now, it’s come full circle and here we all are…waiting for Saturday, September 20th, 2014, to say hello again…or, for the very first time.

 

Life gives us brief moments with another…but sometimes, in those brief moments, we get memories that last a lifetime

 

 

 

 

 

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