Archive | August, 2018

Reflections from a Reunion

22 Aug

This past weekend, Becky and I enjoyed attending my 30th high school class reunion. It was a joy to see friends that I grew up with.  It was a simple reunion – a couple of hours with barbecue catered in. There were lots of laughs and a few tears.

30 Year Class Reunion

I saw people I had not seen in 30 years.  Being a writer, I couldn’t help sharing a few thoughts on this occasion.

People are a treasure, not treasure. Perhaps it was the stage of life we have gotten to, but I heard very little talk about careers and houses.  There was much talk about families, children, and, yes, even grandchildren!  When asked to share the greatest thing about growing up at Ider High School, several classmates shared that growing up in a small place where you were known and you knew everyone else was a great blessing. This fact is why so many of us were able to pick right up and enjoy fellowship even though we had not seen one another in years.

Teachers and Coaches make a huge difference in young lives. Several classmates shared the reasons why a particular teacher was their favorite.  It was fascinating to read the responses. Some mentioned their high school coaches. Others quickly remembered one particular teacher who was very unorthodox in his approach, but who actually taught us a great deal.   Still others mentioned a beloved typing teacher (yes we had those) who was known for her kindness to students.  Thirty years later, our lives are still being shaped by the men and women who taught us and coached us.  For any teachers and coaches who read this blog, take heart.  You are making a far greater difference than you know.

Nothing comes close to the fun you have in high school. Recently a former player came back to speak to my son’s high school football team.  He played college football in the SEC and professionally in the NFL.  He told them, “I’ve done it all. High school is the greatest time. Nothing comes close.”  Yes, there is drama and problems in high school. For most, there is an awful lot of fun. Ball games, lunch break, pep rallies, favorite classes, dances, proms, homecoming parades, community fall festivals, parties, class night, running late to class, and hundreds of other “moments” make high school incredibly fun – at a time in life when most of the burdens of life haven’t taken hold.  This fact is why those at our class reunion didn’t immediately begin talking about the bad times – they immediately began talking about the fun times.

Life is short. Whatever you need to do – do it today!   We lost one member of our class in a tragic accident in 7th grade.  Since graduation, we have lost five others.  Yes, out of a graduating class of 72, we are now down to 67 surviving members of the Ider High School class of ’88.  On our graduation night, none of us would have dreamed that would be the case.  Members of our class have lost children. I know at least one member of our class has lost a spouse to cancer.  All of us know we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Some of my classmates know that truth in a deeply personal, painful way.  Whatever you need to do, do it today.

Graduation night will be the last time you are all together. Out of 67 classmates, we had 18 come to the reunion.  A similar number turned out for the 20 year reunion.  Truly, I was hoping for more.  Some were planning to come and had things that prevented it at the last minute.  Others let us know they were out of town, having to work, moving kids to college, or otherwise unable to attend.  I get it. People are very busy.  Here is the bottom line: your graduation night will be the last time your class will ever be all together.  For some reason, on our graduation night in May, 1988, it was important to me that I personally speak to and hug every member of our class on that night.  Fortunately, I was able to do just that, but I didn’t know why it mattered to me so much.  Now I know. After growing up together and spending countless hours together, that was the last time we were all together.

Friends really are friends forever. As children of the 80’s, we were influenced by contemporary Christian music in its early days. If our class had a theme song, it would have been the old “Friends” by Michael W. Smith.  We actually chose to sing this song on our class night a few days before graduation.  To be honest, I had not listened to this song in many, many years.  After our reunion, I did listen to it a couple of times – with a tear in my eye.

“Friends” by Michael W. Smith
Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can’t believe the hopes He’s granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong
And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends
With the faith and love God’s given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you’ll live in
Is the strength that now you show
But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong
And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends
And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends
No, a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends
Songwriters: Majid Hasan / Sean L. Foote / Barry Eugene White / Robert Taylor / Mary J. Blige / Tom Brock
Friends lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group