Only once in your lifetime do you pass the milestone of the 50th anniversary of your graduation from high school. This past weekend marked that occasion for me. What a delight to see familiar faces sporting a few wrinkles and with hair either graying or a little less of it - that played a significant role in my early life!
As we reminisced we each remembered different events. When I distinctly remembered something I was not afraid to voice my opinion. Out of a class of approximately 150 students 55 returned to mark this milestone. For three former classmates it was the first time they ever returned. The rest of us who have been meeting at five year intervals had a much easier time recognizing everyone. They used our high school yearbook photos on the name tags which was a big help. That also helped us identify who were the classmates and who were the spouses.
Many of us agreed that when we look into the mirror these days we see our parent. Although I wear my hair different than my mother ever did, it does not diminish the similarity of our features.
This year it was my daughter's turn to attend her 25th class reunion. It was also a nephew and niece's 25th anniversary. I remember going from the weeding to my class reunion. My 25th happened when my mother celebrated her 50th. My mother seemed old when she went to her reunion. Am I really that old?
The wonderful part of fifty years was that we were all in the retirement stage of life. We did not have the daily commitment of working. We work when we want and use our free time to volunteer for various organizations. I am content with my life at this point.
It was fun though to go back through some of the events that we thought were earthshattering at the time. Some things just needed time to work themselves out. Some things were not really a problem when you looked at them in hind sight. You know the old saying "Hindsight is 20/20."
The classmates who remembered how much trouble I had with my allergies asked me how I ever managed to live on a farm. I recalled that the first two years that we were married I slept sitting up so that I could breathe. My system was subjected to allergens that I had never experienced before. The box elder trees at the farm proved to be a potent allergen when I finally was tested. No wonder I had so much trouble breathing way back then.
Another thing that surprised some of my classmates was my writing career. Writing was not something that I ever considered way back then. I did not even like to write. I did not believe I had a particular talent for it either. It was not until after I passed the 25th milestone of graduation that I even gave writing a try.
As I explained my columns and my books, I saw looks of amazement. The cookbooks sparked a great deal of interest. Everyone loves new recipes. I carefully explained to everyone that since I live out in the country away from stores - I liked recipes that could be made from what I had in my pantry. Of course, the exception is holiday fare.
Since many classmates did not attend the last reunion I also had to explain about the death of my husband. It was different attending a reunion on your own. As the odd woman out I spoiled a table for the couples. Thankfully, one of my friends invited me to sit with her and her husband. We ended up having a very lively table. Two of the class cut-ups sat with us.
The informal evening was by far my favorite one because I walked around and mingled. Those who sat still missed the boat. The entertainment at the formal dinner ruined conversation. I still have a scratchy voice from trying to yell over the music.
We held a memorial service for the 30 classmates who are deceased. As the helium filled balloons wafted their way into the sky they stayed in a group. I was saddened to discover a close friend died in December. Tears spilled out of many eyes during the stirring memorial service.
All and all the reunion was a success. It did what reunions are supposed to do. We all had a time to remember the silly things we did. We all shared about the things that have made up our lives since last we met. There were some surprises, but not many. Many of my classmates have done well.
Trips to Dunkirk are infrequent since most of my relatives are gone. I drove past familiar spots in town. I checked out the homestead. I also visited the cemeteries to pay tribute to my deceased family members.
The weekend was a blast from the past, but I am certainly glad that my life turned out the way it did. I am definitely happy where I live now. There is an old saying that says "Bloom where you are planted." I take that to mean be content where you are.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org