LOUISE: A 50th Class Reunion

Louise and her "Sister-Girlfriends"It was my last day of high
school and several of us seniors had spent the day driving over country roads
and cutting wild roses to decorate the gymnasium for our Commencement program.
I was tired and a little reflective as I rode the long, yellow school bus home.
Suddenly, it dawned on me how much my life was about to change. I wondered
where I would be and what I would be doing in ten years, a long stretch of time
for a 17-year-old. Unlike some of my classmates, I didn’t have my life planned
out. I had no idea what I really wanted to do or even what college I would
attend. The only certainty concerning my future was that I eventually wanted to
be a wife and mother, assuming that would happen with my high school
sweetheart.

On that bus ride home, I also
wondered about my classmates. Would we be friends forever? Being from a small
farming community—eighteen in my graduating class—some of us had known each
other our whole lives. Would we drift apart? What would the “Class of 1963” be
doing in 10, 20 or 30 years? Wow, who could even imagine? This summer, I will
be attending my 50th high school reunion and yes, I still keep in touch with
several of my classmates, especially my “sister-girlfriends” who I grew up
with. We have remained close through all these years, sharing good and bad
times. And today, as I look at old photos being posted by friends on Facebook,
I wonder where the time went. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was walking
across the stage to receive my diploma then leaving the next morning for a fun
senior trip to Rockaway Beach, Missouri.

So what happened during those
fifty years? Somehow I managed to graduate from two different universities with
BA and MA degrees, to teach school, write some books and do 101 other
interesting things, but most of all, to become the wife and mother I always
wanted to be. And no, it was not with my high school sweetheart. Actually, I
did accept an engagement ring from him the summer after graduation, only to
return it a few months later after meeting a “drop-dead gorgeous guy” at
college named Carl Jones who stole my heart the minute we met. Through the
years Carl and I attended all of my class reunions. This will be my first
without him.

And what do I expect at this
reunion? A little heartache since my husband of 45 years will not be with me,
but I hope to laugh and reminisce with my girlfriends and old classmates. And
since this is an all-school reunion, being as we are so small, I’m sure I’ll
see long ago acquaintances from other classes along with treasured friends. We
will catch up on each other’s lives, then pull out pictures of our kids and
grandkids and talk about the good old
days
at Wilson High School, near Henryetta, Oklahoma. 

 It was there that I learned some of life’s
most valuable lessons. Our instructors compelled us to not only excel in
academics, but to develop an impeccable character with virtues that would carry
us through life. It was at Wilson that I developed a compassion to help others,
the integrity to stand against prejudice and the ability to win or lose with
dignity, whether in sports or in life. I will be forever grateful to those
amazing teachers who invested their time and knowledge in me. They gave their
best and expected no less.

What a remarkable gift! Even after fifty years!

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