Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reflecting On A Good Time

Annual Reunion of Friends of Mine

Every year about this time, a dozen or so of the guys I went to high school and college with, and a few pickups along the way, get together for some laughs, reminiscences and story telling. The kids aren't kids anymore, and though much has changed, little has changed. Too bad, some of the group have other commitments and come this year and not next, or vice versa, but who is there is who is there, and it is always interesting.

We all grew up in London, Ontario, and attended Catholic Central High School here, graduating in 1967, except for the pick ups. We played sports together and hung out together, got in small scrapes, or bigger scrapes, and went on to college, most of us to King's College at Western. Last night's group included 2 chartered accountants, 2 lawyers, a dentist, a university professor, a couple of retirees - one of whom was a Catholic High School principal, a business owner who is in business with one of the CA's, a Human Resources professional, and one guy who has the best job of all. He works for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

At 59, I am the youngest, except when one other friend who is 3 weeks younger than me is there, and the age gap that was most of 2 years when we were in high school and college, seems not to matter anymore.

We had a couple of cold ones, and shared dinner and kibitzing for about 3 1/2 hours. I haven't laughed that hard since the last time we got together.

I confess that I did not remember all the faces when I arrived, and many of the stories, including ones that I was a part of, are not vaguely in my memory bank, not a whiff nor a hint. But, I did recall an incident or two that had left the memories of my buddies as well. At least, I think I recalled them.

All of these guys have gone about their lives, raising families, working at their businesses or jobs to put food on the table. We were all raised with good values, even though we tested the boundaries in our youth; in our old age not so much.

Many, though not all are active in the Church as their time and talents allow. Many have been married only once, and have been faithful to that call, though the professor just got married for the first time last year, to a dear woman who was a friend of us all in high school. A couple of us have recycled. We met the new wife of one of the lawyers present, when she picked him up. Romance in the Fall of your life is good, better if it can be with the person who you shared the Spring and Summer with, but good none the less.

When we left, my friend who I rode with, the other lawyer present, stopped on the way home for a few minutes to check up on his 89 year old mother, who has some medical problems. I remember her in my life very fondly, and his long deceased father.

Another friend, who was raised principally by his grandmother, spoke of her latter years, as she lived until the age of 99, when her mind had faltered, and you could sense the love and devotion that he had for her until the end.

One friend came from Hamilton, as he does each year, and he has always been the butt of much of the joking, in large part because he sets himself up for it, and I think loves the attention. He was an only child, and though we often clashed, just because we had to, it was never out of real anger, though we had our moments. I remember his Mom and Dad very fondly, since we spent much time at each other's homes in our youth, and I think of him very fondly too.

These were a bunch of white middle class guys who grew up in a different time and space from today, living life as fully as it allows, living and loving. All have mellowed into gentle spirits, with a sense of merriment.

And you know what was present at that table - a lot of love and respect, among guys. Go figure!

Today, some of the joking could invite human rights complaints for some kind of bigotry to somebody, except for two things. All of us were white Catholic men, the only group that you can discriminate against with impunity here in Canada. None of us have time or interest in such lunacy. All our joint stories were of a simpler time.

It was great fun. When I got home, I told my wife of our time together, and she told me of her afternoon at a concert put on by a friend of hers with a luncheon after. When I mentioned the one friend and his grandmother by name, she asked if he was related to a woman with the same last name at the function she was at. It was his wife, a woman who grew up across the street from me.

I also told her that the high school principal we had spoken of earlier in the day was there too. I have not seen him in 40 years, and he had come up in passing in the morning.

It's a Small World After All.

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