For all we know
We may never meet again
Before you go
Make this moment sweet again
We won't say goodnight
Until the last minute
I'll hold out my hand
And my heart will be in it... ("For All We Know"- by Fred Karlin,Robb Wilson,and Arthur Jones.)
Every year, the well-seasoned Golden Alumni Association holds a reunion for those who graduated from Pine Bush High School fifty or more years ago.
My late wife and I first attended in 2001. My two older brothers were there,and I got to see several of my 1951 classmates. It was pretty enjoyable, and we decided to come back the following year.
Unfortunately,by 2002, both of my brothers had passed away , and some of the magic of renewing old friendships had faded , so we decided to pass up 2003.
2004,2005, and 2006 brought increasing illness for my wife;and in March,2007,she passed away.
I decided to make the reunion in September,2007,but it was much too soon,and I backed out at the last minute.
This September, I went to the reunion-and there were only a few people I knew : not too surprising when you consider the fact most would have been in elementary school the year I graduated.
One of those I met was Loretta - who was only a few years behind me in school. I told Loretta about the mad crush I had had on her sister Edith...back in 7th or 8th grade. "Yeah",said Loretta. " She was very pretty. Unfortunately, she died about 3 years ago." Loretta offered to send me a picture of her,so I gave her my address and email. (I'll probably never hear from her again, if things work out the way they usually do.)
Another woman walked up to me - I won't give her name - and told me some things about my Mom that I really didn't need to hear. Her eyes fairly glittered with hungry malice as she watched for my reaction. I tried to remember the kind of youngster she had been-but drew a blank. I don't recall that Mom ever said an unkind word about her or her family - and she was not one to withold opinions !
Another old codger (Oddly enough, there seemed to be no shortage of them today !) reminisced with me about our days in the Pine Bush Drum and Bugle Corps-and grinned when I said, "Oh, yeah ! The Drunken Bugle Corps !"
We Drum and Bugle kids didn't do any drinking, but the Volunteeer Firemen who sponsored us more than made up for that ! In those days, being a Volunteer Firemen entailed being available, knowing the basics of how to put a fire out, and being able to drive a fire truck while close to legally drunk.
Finally, I met an old classmate who-I'm pretty sure-had a bit of a crush on me-back in the day: a crush, I might add, I had rather casually ignored.
What a woman she turned out to be ! Physically, she was still the short,sturdily built girl she had been in high school,and-although her hair was now snow white,she still had the nicest, gentlest,most (for lack of a better word) loving smile I have ever seen.
She listened, clutching my hand, as I told her about my wife ; and we both wept a little. I subsequently learned from her "kid sister" she has been caring for a bed-ridden husband - victim of multiple strokes- 24/7. One of her children had given her a brief respite so she could attend the reunion.
When the opportunity came, I asked her to dance with me. I could see she had problems walking , but was able to steady her and support her for a brief dance.
I told her I wanted to make up for the times in high school when I should have asked her to dance - and she looked up and gave me that wonderful smile. I also told her I understood some of what she was going through: Been there. Done that.
Mostly I just held her for a little while: knowing I would probably never see her again ; and, after a little while, I left.
The bad thing about a blog is that you're always tempted to make yourself the "hero". I'm not , and I never was.
I'm just another old geezer:looking around at who is missing and who is left-and accepting the fact this question - bittersweet as it may seem - may all become academic at any time.