My daughter telephoned last night to ensure that we were safely home. I guess my voice coming from our home telephone provided the answer she needed before she asked the question. The way she asked her next question signaled me that I had done something wrong. She asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that you were co-host for the program at your reunion?” She added, “I had to learn it from someone at work.” In case there is any doubt, any time someone begins a question with: “Why didn’t you…”, that is code for, “You’ve got some explaining to do”.
My daughter works at Apple Computer. The only other person I know who works for Apple is Karoni. Obviously Karoni had shared the information with someone who mentioned it to Andrea. At any rate, the easiest way to get out of trouble… (You may want to write this down. It could come in handy). The easiest way to get out of trouble is to say something that makes the other person laugh. Laughter is good medicine and it has provided me a healthy escape from harms way many times.
I explained to Andrea that I was invited to co-host the program because my spiritual gift is nonsense. I can’t grasp and retain the important stuff, but nonsense is second nature to me. Sometimes it is the catalyst for laughter.
I mentioned to Andrea that I got all the fodder I needed by quickly thumbing through my high school annual. One classmate wrote: “Donnie – I shall give you the highest compliment I have ever paid another. You have a way with wimmen! There is only one other higher compliment that could be made of anyone: ‘You have a way with horses’”. I went on to tell Andrea that it was true. In looking through my annual, four girls wrote a complete page in the back of my annual expressing that I was the best friend a girl could have. They also said they would never forget me. The downside is that “the best friend a girl could have” negates any kind of romantic involvement.
Andrea didn’t laugh. Oops, I was still in trouble. Either that, or it wasn’t funny. Maybe she was right. I moved our conversation to another line, “I don’t know what we were thinking in high school. Most of us signed our autographs over our faces in the yearbook. Did we not know we looked better then than we’d ever look again?”
Silence. There was deafening silence on the other end of the line. Consequently, I thought I’d break the ice with: “Thumbing through my annual reminded me of something I had forgotten. It wasn’t true of Ronnie, but it was true of me. I was not selected as one of the top ten classmates most likely to succeed. That reflects inordinate wisdom on the part of our graduating class. What I can’t figure out is how they knew.”
My comedy routine was not working with my daughter. Consequently, I didn’t share, “Two women met for their fist time since graduation from high school. One asked the other, “You were always so organized in school, did you manage to live a well planned life?” “Yes”, said her friend. “My first marriage was to a millionaire. My second marriage was to an actor. My third marriage was to a preacher and now I’m married to an undertaker.” Puzzled, her friend asked, “What do those marriages have to do with a well planned life? “Oh you know, one for the money, two for the show, three to make ready and four to go.”
My attempt at humor was not working with my daughter. I dropped the jokes and told her that her mother and I had an incredible time at the reunion. I really don’t have the words to express how meaningful and fulfilling I found it to be. Several of those in attendance came long distances and needed assistance to make the journey. Because of health issues, life for them is not easy, but you would not know that from their countenance or from shared conversation. Upbeat, positive and grateful to be reconnected with classmates from long ago was the refreshing theme of conversations.
My daughter asked, “Did you have an opportunity to sell any books?” I responded, “Yes, the EHS planning committee asked to purchase four as door prizes. I brought them with me, but I opted to donate them rather than sell them. Two or three people knowing I had written a couple of books inquired about how to purchase them. Instead of selling them, I responded, “I’m giving them away out of the back of my truck. I’ll go get you copies.”
Sunday morning as out time together came to closure, it occurred to me that the folks who likely were more interested in the content of my books than anyone else, were the people I had known in childhood. I told Treva that I was going to give books away. She smiled and said, “I agree.”
Andrea was horrified. She wasn’t horrified because I was giving them away. She was horrified with the thought that I forced my books on other people. I assured her, that was not the case. Hopefully, that was not the case. Now Andrea has me worried.
In my niece’s presentation on Saturday night, she thanked the graduation class of 1965 for sharing Ronnie Forrester stories with her. She has no firsthand memories of her dad, but each story shared with her about her dad was a gift. I like the way she expressed it, “Each story shared with me is a piece of my dad that I didn’t have before”.
In similar fashion, I was amazed at the number of our classmates that privately shared with me that before Ronnie left, he stopped by to visit with them. I heard those stories repeatedly. That was over six years following our high school graduation. Did Ronnie suspect he wouldn’t be returning? I don’t know, but what I do know is that he understood the importance of connection and he understood the importance of staying close with others who had been close.
Ronnie’s status of “Missing In Action” was not just a loss for our family. It was a personal loss for each of our classmates. Ronnie stories, stories of friends from long ago who have visited the Wall and were moved to tears were repeated themes of conversations this past weekend. I had the sense that Solomon was right. He wrote that, “Shared joy is double joy and shared sorrow is half sorrow”.
The class of 1965 had its dreams. We still do and we best fulfill them by understanding the importance of friendship and connections. It was a remarkable weekend. It defies description and I don’t know how to explain it, but I think what was true for me was also true for others. It was good to be home. The friendships forged in childhood had not decayed through fifty years of silence. In fact, from the vantage point of adulthood, we gravitated not to just close friends from long ago, but we understand the importance of being inclusive. Folks mingled. They talked. They forged connections that will not be broken.
All My Best!