This I’ve learned…

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

So, what about the high school reunion? Or, should I emphasize, the high school reunion – the 50th.

Growing up I heard people say, “Time goes by so quickly. You will understand this when you get older.” But really, these words are lost on a child. Nevertheless, as an adult, I do understand these words today. Still, where did those 50 years go?

After my reunion invitation arrived it sat on our kitchen counter for days. Or was it weeks? I could not get up the nerve to respond to it. Then I completed the questionnaire, tucked my “epistle” into an envelope and mailed it. (I know. I know. But if one lives to be almost 70 years of age, there is a lot to tell!)

Then I had a sinking feeling that no one would care what I did post-high school. I agonized about this for days. Actually it was for months. Now I needed to decide – should I go? I decided to go.

I was nervous, but I have to say that the Friday night classmates’ get-together at a local bar was an outstanding way to break the ice for the weekend. Amidst the screams and hugs during the evening all of our classmates became re-united as the Class of 1965. And while a Saturday morning golf outing was rained out, the Saturday night dinner at a country club was just perfect.

Interesting things emerged from that Saturday evening. A list of the names of the 34 students in my class who have died was projected on a screen. This is 13% of my class. Twenty-two of the students, or 8.5%, had served in the military. Many of my classmates had outlived their spouses but some of these classmates have remarried. Many of my classmates are seriously ill.

Not all of the graduates, of course, have had the same positive experiences and opportunities that I, and many of my classmates, have had. However, while many did not go to college, several classmates own their own business.

It was a good idea to attend my 50th high school reunion. But I still cannot believe that fifty years have passed; however, interestingly enough, I can remember the names of only two of my college professors, while I remember the names of all of my high school teachers. They cared for us. They helped us learn. They were our linchpins to our future. And really, we cannot forget them.

The classes, the clubs, the pep rallies and games, the drive-in movies, the dances, the tragedy of the Kennedy assassination – and many other of our shared high school experiences – will always be indelible in my mind.

For four years high school students have a shared experience like no other. And no one, with the exception of our high school classmates, will have that same shared experience. I have learned that it is good to reflect on these shared experiences because time goes by so quickly. This I’ve learned and, gee, it only took me fifty years!