Monday, May 12, 2008

The Mother and Child Reunion

The school that my mother attended from first through twelfth grade is also the school where I attended first through sixth grade. By the time I started there it was no longer a high school, just a grade school. Because my mother was twenty when I was born, everything monumental in our lives seems to be based on twenty, go figure. In 1946 my mother started first grade at Union School, in 1966 I started there. (My father attended school there for the later part of his education.) He and Mom graduated in 1958 and I graduated in 1978, Union being part of a consolidated school system, you can say in essence that we graduated from the same school.

Since I graduated in 1978 the math I learned at Union will back me up when I say that this year I’ve been out of school for thirty years. I attended my 20-year class reunion and noticed that the gathering of the large class of over 300 had drifted into smaller clusters of people chatting and visiting, these groups were made up of the ones who went to elementary school together. My class from Union did the same thing as the former students of Hopewell, Needham, Webb, Northwood and Southside. Makes sense really, these are people who have shared a lengthy history. After all, we signed one another’s yearbooks and field trip permission slips for a lot of years. I often thought that I was Mrs. Brown; I did her report card signing duties for a long time. I think it’s okay to tell that now.

When I thought about the groups that gathered at our last reunion I thought about how we should have a reunion of the classmates from grade school. Union has an alumni association and each year they have a dinner at the school where each of the classes join together to reconnect, even though some of them just visited at Wal-Mart the night before. They visit and recall the good old days. Even though Union ceased to be a high school in the mid 1960s I thought it would be a good time to gather my class from the ‘70s and enjoy a visit as a part of the larger group of alums.

Remember the math thing earlier? If a student who graduated from high school in 1978 is celebrating his 30th anniversary of the event and his mother graduated twenty years prior, how many years has she been out of high school and what year did she graduate? (Trust me, this story problem, as we used to call them, is a lot easier to figure out than the ones that started with, “if a train leaving Boston…”) Yes, your 3rd grade math lesson at the feet of Mrs. Bridges, shod in sensible shoes of course, has worked! Mom has been out of school since 1958 and that was 50 years ago. My mother’s class was seated at a special table for the honor and a substantial showing from her class of 20 were there. Though there are three who were attending in spirit only as they have gone on to better seating heavenward, my father one of them. It was neat to see this long table covered in the school colors, blue and gold, surrounded by a group of people who haven’t wandered very far from home or has failed to be like family for one another. The women in the group have a Christmas get together each year and the entire class tries to do something together each summer. My mom acts as cruise director in a way, and they thank her for keeping them connected.

I could see that my mother was proud and I understand the pride that she was feeling, she was with some of the people that she has the longest shared history with short of her family. She has known many of these people since she was six years old and now sixty two years later, they are all seated at a long table visiting like it was a family Thanksgiving dinner and they hadn’t seen one another in ages.

I felt some of the same pride; I enjoyed listening to those in my group share where their lives had taken them and where they were at now, some told of where they hope to be heading. I was a bit surprised that two in the class had gone back to school, one of them missing that evening to attend her capping ceremony as a nurse.

It was a good evening, knowing that in many ways this gymnasium full of people share a common interest, celebrate a shared history and hold an old brick building full of memories in such high esteem.
So, it was a good reunion for my mom and dad’s class of 1958 and my class of 1978. Since it was on Mother’s Day weekend I like to think of it as, “The Mother and Child Reunion.”


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