Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, June 2, 2017


It’s reunion season again, so…


Donna did not want to go to our fifty-year high school reunion. She told me about it on the phone.

“Everyone will be telling about their husbands and their children and their grandchildren, and I can’t…”

No, she couldn’t. Her first marriage ended in divorce and her second in suicide. Her first son was killed in a motorcycle accident and her second died of cancer, both in their twenties. Her granddaughter, her only grandchild, committed suicide at age nineteen.

Donna is one of the most upbeat people I know. She keeps going against all odds. She makes a life for herself out of nothing. But even for her, going to that reunion, hearing our old classmates talk about their children and grandchildren, that would be too much.

I told her it was okay; she didn’t have to go. We weren’t going, either. We would visit with her privately on some trip back to the old hometown, where she still lives.

Then, a few days before the reunion, she called again.

“Jim said that when it’s time, he’s going to come to my house and take me to the reunion, even if he has to drag me by the hair, and he said I’d better be dressed, because he doesn’t want to drag a naked old lady through the streets.”

Good for Jim. He is a great example of a host in the world, even if he is a little bit aggressive about it sometimes.

“I think,” Donna said, “I can do it, if I can sit between you and Helen. I think I’ll be okay that way.”

We had not planned to go. We had other things we needed to do. But we went.

Jim and his new girlfriend brought Donna to the reunion. They didn’t have to drag her. She was dressed even. She sat between Helen and me. When Bill announced that he had quit drinking, we all applauded. When he said it was because he could get the same effect just by standing up fast, we all laughed. We were eighteen again, at least in our memories. None of the bad stuff had happened to us yet. We had a good time.

We can be eighteen again only in our memories and dreams, though. When the reunion was over, we had to go back to being our old selves, not our former selves. Donna is still alone. Carol is still looking for answers about evil and refusing the easy ones. Jack is still shaking with Parkinson’s. Jim is still reinventing himself. We’re all still worried about our families and the world, because that goes with living in the old country, the land of old age.

We still have memories in common, though, not just of school years, but of being together as old people–laughing, weeping, remembering, caring, supporting. As I think about my classmates, as I pray for them, I give thanks for them, thanks that we are still together, not only in shared memory, but in shared hope.


I tweet as yooper1721.

For several years I kept a careful index of stories and subjects I had used in these posts so that I would not repeat. That has become cumbersome, and I trust that most of my readers are old enough to forget as much as I, so now I just rely on memory to avoid repeats. If your memory is better than mine, and something sounds too familiar to bother reading again, I apologize.

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