header photo

James R. Stout

The Reunion

             It was planned for a long time by a group of fine folks from my high school class. A reunion of our high school class of 1974. I paid my fee in advance by a few months and it was my plan to attend. I have previously been to my 10th, 30th, and 40th reunions. But this one was a bit harder for me to muster the courage to go to. Perhaps it was vanity on my part. Perhaps a little bit of embarrassment. Maybe even a little apprehension.

            Well, this brings us to the reunion last Saturday. I wanted to go. There were people that I wanted to see again. People who I communicate with often on Facebook, but not in person. As bad as Facebook may be a times, there has been some good things come out of it. I am back in touch with people that I knew half a century ago and what’s even better is I have made lasting friendships with classmates that I had barely known in high school. But there was the apprehension about going that got me down. Several months ago, I started having some problems with my legs. Frankly, I’m still waiting for a full diagnosis. Next stop, another neurologist. The deal is I’m not moving around like I was. I’m not as steady on my feet as I should be. Vanity kept me from taking my cane into the reunion. I just toughed it out. As vane as it may sound, I very nearly didn’t go to the reunion. Why? I had this image in my head that I would be the only one there with gray hair, wrinkles, and walking like Tim Conway’s “Oldest Man Alive”. The good news was that I have lost about 40 pounds since the last reunion. Even so, I figured I would be this old fat man that moved like he was 90 and people would be thinking how pathetic I was. Wanna hear something crazy? I went and bought a new pair of shoes and a new shirt to wear. I thought maybe that would help.

            I decided as late as 10 a.m. on Saturday that I would definitely go to the reunion. I just decided that even if I wasn’t the guy that I once was (appearance wise) that I was going to go. I wanted to see my old friends and I figured they wouldn’t care much how I looked. Now for the funny part. I got to the reunion and guess what I saw? About 100 other people looking about the same as me. Some gray hair (some guys wishing they had hair), enough wrinkles (mine included) to challenge a herd of Shar-Pei for supremacy in that department, several other people moving as slow I do, and some grandpa’s with guts to challenge mine. But very quickly NONE of that mattered. What mattered was seeing the faces of the kids that we once were lurking just beneath the faces of the older people that we are now. I recognized some people immediately. Gina Marek and Pam Johnson were just as pretty and fetching as always. Bill McDaniel looked like himself only a bit more distinguished. Yes, some of us had changed a lot. But those changes are merely testaments to our survivorship. I looked into the face of Patti Turk and could still see the 12-year-old girl that I attended church with 50 years ago before high school began. I felt a warmth in my heart as I talked with different people and realized how great they are. I realized their sweet spirits were probably there all along, but it took time for me to break down the walls of youth to see it. What I enjoyed most was talking to sweet grandmothers and loving grandfathers. And heck yea, some of those grandmothers got my heart beating a bit faster! The single ones only though!

            Unfortunately, the table with class members who have passed has grown. After all, we are all in our mid-60’s now. Maybe that isn’t ancient, but then we are certainly not young anymore. I couldn’t help but wondering if some of those fine people that I was spending time with on Saturday night might be gone by the time we have our 50th reunion. Heck, I might be gone. And on that note, I would like to say something to those of you that I visited with. It is truly a pleasure to know you. We have a special bond given we shared time together when we were kids. But the bond is so much stronger now. In those long-ago days, we were tethered together with a rope of sand. All it took was for someone’s father to be transferred to another city far away and that rope of sand sifted away through our fingers. But for those of us who have maintained relationships throughout the past 50 years the rope of sand is now a rope as sturdy as they come. It’s an anchor that steadies us as time passes. I am so very glad and proud to know you one an all. Yes, none of us are as spry as we once were. None of us have escaped the ravages of time (although a couple of the ladies are like fine wine that just gets better and better with age!). I’m glad that I went to the reunion and didn’t succumb to my silly vanity and fears. I’ll be at the next one no matter what shape I’m in unless I’m in Heaven. If that happens, then I hope you’ll understand that I got promoted and rejoice in that event. See you all on Facebook and perhaps in person whenever possible. Thank you for being you and for being a part of my life.

Go Back


Blog Search