Lee High Class of '64

Lee High Class of '64
One View

"The only requirement is that we love each other
                                and make the best of the time we have left."

Charlie BishopWhile the reunion is still fresh in our minds, I feel a warm, gentle glow of gratitude just to be a part of this class.  It was fun to laugh again about the old stories; “Remember the time we….”  But, realizing where we all are now, this gathering was different and appropriately so.  This time, on a deeper, more significant level, conversations were more candid, meaningful and fulfilling.

Gone are the issues of children’s accomplishments, size of homes, makes of cars, all the STUFF.  Children and grandchildren talk was more about the sheer joy of having them. (Perhaps with a tinge of regret that our high school experience was much more idyllic than our children’s and grandchildren’s were.)  But the main joy was just seeing each other and catching up.  Classmates who were either close friends or barely acquaintances in high school are now bound together by the fact that we are still here.  Thus, we realize that we now have less time over our hood ornament than we do in our rearview mirror.

With that, however, comes the opportunity of deepening our appreciation of, and respect and affection for, classmates we didn’t know that well.  Those relationships can now be expanded and enhanced. But, also at this juncture, there is an increasing candor regarding those aspects of both our youth and adult lives that have not been all Norman Rockwell and Ozzie and Harriet.

We now know there was, and is, a story behind every doorknocker; stories of dysfunction of every variety from illness, alcoholism, and depression to financial reversal, divorce, and suicide to the subtle, but agonizing, pressure of a stage mother or little league daddy.  Perhaps we are all victims of and perpetrators of poor parenting and nurturing parenting.  Our parents were doing the best they could and so were we.

But the reunion weekend was much more positive than negative. Many well-deserved accolades were given.  Perhaps the group that did not receive sufficient recognition was made up of those who came great distances, and the spouses of classmates.  It has been said that attending your spouse’s reunion is “listening to people you don’t know talk about other people you don’t know.”  On the other hand, many classmates said their spouses felt welcomed by our class.

Perhaps the greatest respect should go to those classmates who attended despite personal circumstances that made it difficult to do so; to revisit memories that were painful.  Moreover, let us acknowledge and reach out to those who may not have been able to bring themselves to attend; to fight through whatever pain they were undergoing.  We have all been there. We have now been friends for over 50 years; some of us since kindergarten.  Amazing! What a blessing! We don’t have to “put on airs.”  We are now joined in a circle of acceptance. We have all had our triumphs and tragedies in varying ratios.  We have accomplished what we have accomplished, screwed up what we have screwed up, and survived what we have survived.  Our failures, shame, warts, regrets, and mistakes are irrelevant.  There is no test now to be admitted.  There is no rush week or ball system.  We are all in.  The only requirement is that we love each other and make the best of the time we have left.

Is it all going to be easier now?  Hell no! We are in that zone.  It is going to get tougher. We are going to need each other even more.  Pain, pills, procedures.  Loss of siblings and spouses. More events that will test our faith, our sense of fairness and our ability to persevere.  But we still know we are a group of quality people, taught and trained by quality people and buoyed by wonderful memories.  We now need to follow Winston Churchill’s life advice:
Never give in.
Never give in.
Never, never, never, never…

A final thought: We don’t have to wait five years and round up 100 people to get together.  If you are in the area, let us know and we can have lunch or whatever with 5, 10, 20, etc.

Charlie Bishop
October 2014

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