Forever in my heart

Published 8:40 pm Friday, August 13, 2010

Sometimes you just have to hitch up your corset and go.

Maybe it’s not the most comfortable thing to do but you know it has to be done.

Up until the last minute, I was dead set against going to the 40th class reunion of some old folks who said I taught them in school.

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Not because I didn’t want to go, and not because I was 40 pounds heavier and 40 years older than when I saw them last but because, in my mind, these kids of the Paxton High School Class of 1970 were forever young.

The last time I saw any of them, they were 17 years old and stepping eagerly into the great big world of opportunity. The reunion would replace that memory, and with people 40 years older and probably 40 pounds heavier whose names I didn’t recall and whose faces I didn’t recognize.

But the usual musical chirping of the Jiminy Cricket that resides inside me became an annoyance. He kept rubbing his wings together louder and louder until I could stand it no more.

I’ll go! I’ll go! I’ll go!

I didn’t recognize most of the “children” but I didn’t say so. Thank goodness for nametags. I’m sure they didn’t recognize me either but they were nice enough to pretend.

But, as we started to talk – to remember – it was if we were back at Paxton High School in the late 1960s.

“Do your remember when you took us to Auburn to play in that volleyball tournament?” Betty asked, laughing.

Sure, I remembered.

Paxton was a small, rural school and we didn’t know that open-hand volleyball had been replaced by power volleyball. You can imagine our surprise when, on our first serve, an iron-fisted opposing player knocked the ball down our throats.

“Remember you called time out and said, ‘Hit deep and duck. Maybe we can get out of here without getting killed.” Betty said.

We remembered that we regrouped, balled up our fists and actually won a couple of games.

The “children” remembered the papier-mché volcano they built from boxes for the junior senior prom. It grew and grew until it covered the entire end of the gym and rose to the ceiling. After the prom, the juniors climbed to the top and sat on the volcano in triumph. It took a week to dismantle the “darn thing” and twenty-six trips to the dump to dispose of it all.

The memories flowed like milk and honey. Most of the time, the stories brought waves of laughter, then a few misty eyes as we remembered the four classmates whose lives have been lost – Roy Lee, the “hunk,” Wanda who everybody affectionately called Moose, Annette who was a “hoot” and Mike who stunned and shocked us all when he said, “Damn” during his book report.

“Good times,” Donny Ray said. “What good times.”

Sitting there looking at the classmates of Paxton High School Class of 1970, I realized that time ages the body but not the spirit, not the soul.

Although those precious people will no longer be forever young in my mind, they will be forever in my heart.

On the way home, my corset wasn’t quite so tight and my heart was happy and light.

Going was the right thing to do.

Thanks, Jiminy Cricket.