July 29, 2005

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Revisiting that old gang of mine

Summer means reunion time, any old kind of reunion. We have family reunions and class reunions. We even have reunions of work colleagues, fellow members of sports teams or military units or whatever group of people we still feel connected to as friends.

That’s because reunion implies that we were in unity with those people at some time. We shared their genes, their work, their beliefs or just about anything else you can think of that cements humans together. Of course, we’ll share family genes forever, but wanting to revisit the other groups depends on how much we reconnect whenever we see them.

Recently, I reunited with my high school class many years after graduation. Most of us feel united somehow, and what a revelation that is. For one thing, we all still feel about 30 years upstairs regardless of the condition of the bodies that live downstairs. And, that condition can be scary, believe me.

Sadly, one old classmate suffers from mild dementia. Another suffers from longing for vanished youth, complete with plastic surgery and too much sun. Some of the men have lost their hair and some of the women have gained fuzz on their chins or upper lips. Many of the body shapes we had in youth have assumed new and interesting variations but, all in all, we’re a respectable-looking bunch for our age.

While appearances may change over the years, personalities don’t seem to. I was delighted to find that the good-looking super-jock of yesteryear, captain of the football team, idol of the girls and mentor for the boys, is still the modest, nice guy he was in high school. Naturally, he married his high school sweetheart, who’s still as cute and sweet as ever.

The clever people are still clever, the energetic are still busy and the kindly ones are still caring for others. Most of us have a shared past spanning the first 13 years of our schooling so nostalgia is big on our agenda. Remember the poor girl whose mom always embarrassed her in public by yanking her hair? Remember the mean bus driver who loved to intimidate the eighth-grade boys?

Two of our former teachers, now in their 90s, also were present for our reunion. One said he never attends reunions with classes who graduated after 1969 because he has nothing in common with them. At least with us, he can talk about past events without having to explain everything. I know how he feels.

Exchanging life stories is one of the best parts of reunions, especially when we don’t see the others very often. One classmate told me she had moved to Idaho, where she knew Ernest Hemingway and his family. Others have led interesting lives as musicians, special education directors, medical professionals, real estate salespersons and more.

I’m pleased to say that all the members of my class share religious faith. One fellow is a Baptist, another is a member of the Church of Christ and others belong to various Protestant Churches. Several of us are Catholic.

But all of us, no matter what form our religion takes, believe in God and his grace, and in our responsibility to follow his will on earth. For that reason if for no other, whenever we get together it’s really a reunion.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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