Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Class of '66

                                                                  Senior Prom 1966

Yesterday I came across a Facebook "friend request."  Not being adept at navigating my way through Facebook, the request may have been sitting there for months.  Well, I clicked on the friend request and discovered that it was from a high school classmate who has been toiling to herd the remainder of the class of '66 on to our own special Facebook page.

So I clicked on the "confirm request" and was soon navigating my way through my old high school days.  Well, I could never have anticipated the impressions that the two hour visit to yesterday had on me.  

First of all, those people are so damn old!  Let me explain.  When I joined the military in the summer after my graduation I unwillingly severed the kind of continuity one enjoys when living in the same town in which I grew up.  Oh, I had received disparate news and notes through the pipeline of a few old friends.  Sometimes I caught a timely news item in the home town paper.  And I did attend the 20th reunion of the Class of '66.  But those people were still recognizable....perhaps a receding hairline here and there, perhaps a slight thickening of the waist, but still my dear recognizable classmates.

And, because I have not enjoyed the continuity of friendship over these many years, these ghosts from the past were starkly different beings than the ones who wrote in my yearbook.  Like those open-faced doll houses that a little girl will play with...little daddy and mommy figures all attending, my memories of my classmates came from propping open one of my yearbooks and gazing into youthful, fresh faced 17 year olds with the world just opening up to them.

And every single one of those sweet faces remain frozen in time, vibrant and alive.  And so yesterday I gaze into the faces of these senior citizens and, at first, simply see them as strangers.  And, far worse, like a punch drunk fighter, I begin to absorb the blows at those postings that refer to the deaths of these dear hearts who, until yesterday, still lived..who still held their place in my memory banks.

A dear girl who was my first pre-teen crush had died in an auto accident.  A lovely girl who shared singing the musical scales with me in choir brutally murdered.  Several who died in their 20's and 30's, leaving us to wonder why we were graced with long life while others were taken so early.

My god, it was heartbreaking!  In 1966 even the occasional auto accident, or one of our own dying in Vietnam seemed not to shake our sense of immortality!  I sat there yesterday and mourned the fact that I had not taken a moment in 1966 to tell those people how much a kindness meant to me, how a joyful moment made my high school life a bit easier.

Then I thought about what a wonderful thing indeed, if we could go back to 1966, taking all of the richness of our life experience...to enrich the lives we might have touched back then.  Having learned that having the nicest car, or the best clothes, or being most popular was no assurance for happiness..how much kinder might we all have been?  

And then I realized that all the light hearted comments, all the heart felt sentiments being posted on this Class of '66 reunion site was accomplishing that very thing...we were at last sharing the things that are most important to us.  We were, from the relative comfort of a computer keyboard, or with the occasional informal dinner reunion, at last communicating about who we are and what we care about.

And suddenly all those old faces became dear to me...every crows foot and every wrinkle, and every laugh line,  testament to the hard life challenges we've faced and defeated.  

So I can put away the yearbooks, pausing to say a prayer for those who have passed, and celebrate the lives of those of us who are left, laugh lines and wrinkles and all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Top Shelf Of Your Closet


If the heart is the “home” to all of your fondest memories
I’ll settle for the top shelf in a bedroom closet
Just to be remembered; to know I touched your heart
On a day when, perhaps, my soul shined brightest

Perhaps, on some rainy day you’ll find nothing else to do
But take me down from that dusty shelf, and recall a time
When I made you laugh or cry, or...remember
A day when I helped you to feel “not alone”

Sometimes, when all the words are said
Maybe the only thing that matters is a smile, a gentle touch
Or even a pat on the back to let you know I care
That you delight me just by being you

One can never say “I love you” often enough
For we never know when it may be the last time we say it
So let me say “I love you” again this day
And pray I live to say it again on the morrow

And when I leave this world, and am no more
May the legacy of the love I offered, and voiced
Rest gently in some back room in your heart
To be taken out, and cherished, on some dark and rainy day

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bribes For Jesus


When I was a kid the church bus would roll up in front of our house every Sunday morning...hauling our sinful asses off to Sunday school.  It would not have been so painful had we not had one of those fire and brimstone Sunday school teachers.  She was the minister's wife and she seemed to delight in telling us about just how hot hell really is, and what we need to do not to go there.  

This teacher was especially adept at relating how current early 60's era events pointed to an end of the world scenario, hinting that we had damn little time to repent and get our selves right.  Israel was her favorite subject...whatever was going on over in the Middle East surely portended the end of days.  She'd open up a chapter in Revelations and just scare the beejesus out of us.

Well, we came out of Sunday school sweating like little hogs, having barely eluded Armageddon, then climbed back on the bus to be taken home.  In winter the bus driver closely guarded a box of Snickers bars, and as we got off the bus he'd pass us a Snickers as reward for coming to Jesus.  In summer he kept a cooler next to him and passed out ice cream treats.  

Well, I can tell you that, back then, as compared to now, we were well educated about religion.  I read the bible off and on and could usually relate to it when anyone wanted to talk about religion.  And damned if I didn't say my prayers everything night and pray "if I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take".  That Sunday school teacher had me plenty scared.

As I remember, about 80% of Americans back in my day, attended church.  From stats I read now it's about half of that.  And getting a kid to come to church is a tough thing, indeed these days, so many Sunday diversions being what they are.  I doubt highly that a Snickers bar or Eskimo Pie would seal the deal.  

So damned if I didn't read of a stepped up "Bribes For Jesus" campaign going on with some of our local churches.  A prominent church over in Surprise plans to build skate parks to try and lure our modern youth to at least come near a church.  Perhaps they believe if they can just get them close they can pull a few of the retributes into the church proper.  Perhaps then they can build a gaming center in the now nearly empty Sunday school classrooms!  And speaking of gaming centers, why hasn't some entrepreneurial Christian came up with some Christian type video games.  

How about Moses parts the Red Sea, then drowns the Egyptians in mid-stream?  Moses just might score big, what with transforming staffs into snakes and turning rivers red with blood.  How about a video game where David slays Goliath?  You get kids into Christian gaming you just might hook them on a little fire and brimstone, and getting them to say their nightly prayers, and we might, just might have a better class of kids.  

Bribes for Jesus, baby!