50th High School reunion
When I received my yearbook in 1967, I remembered looking at a picture of the first Cristobal High School class. I was amazed to see that my class was the 50th to graduate. I then thought about the age of that first class of graduates and realized that they were very, very, old, older than my parents. They would be I said to myself, 68 or 69. I of course never thought that 50 years later, being that same age, and how different that reality would look to me. When not looking in a mirror or at a doctor’s office, I sort of feel like I am 18, my maturity level more like 14, on a good day.
I should not have blinked.
Donna Janzar was a classmate I was lucky enough to get to know again. We became good friends. Or, should I say our friendship continued where it left off. Her husband Stan was a really great guy. The few times she was able to stop off I loved seeing them interact with each other, a very good, loving marriage. We used to talk a lot when in High School. After I finished my paper route in Fr. Gulick, we would often just stand and talk for hours. Good conversation can take those involved outside of time, so that two or three hours seems like, well, nothing at all. She was a good friend and I loved her dearly. I missed her when she left Panama in 65, so getting to spend time with her was a true joy. I am still sad over her death of course, but I would not change anything, she was a good soul who loved helping and encouraging others. She helped and encouraged me in my compulsion to write.
You never forget those you became good friends with in High School. Dennis Forsgren, Nan Bell or two of the Canal Zone kids in my class that I remember the most and am still very fond of them. I am happy to say I got back in touch with both of them. I was not good at making friends when a teenager, nor was I looking for it in reality. Yet when someone without their even knowing it broke through my unconscious defenses it was a true blessing. Because of that, I have always believed that friendship is one of the most important experiences in life. To have a good friend is a priceless gift. For no one owes anyone else friendship, it is grace in action. What I find beautiful is the depth of the friendship I experience when reading about my classmates and how hard they worked to get the class together. How after all these years they are still so deeply connected.
I remember in 1999 when I was first starting to learn the computer, I recollect with humor how kind Nan Bell was to me. I was learning to use messenger and we talked about it over the phone and I voicing my frustration because I could not find the file. She started laughing reliving with me her own experience in learning the different aspects of using the computer. Jack Sanders, who will not remember this, helped me out in showing me how to correct some of the mistakes I was making and also explained to me some of the slang, like “LOL”, I had no idea what that meant.
I did not know many of my classmates, but after I graduated I was amazed at the connection that I felt on a deep level. I guess you cannot help but feel connected when the whole Atlantic area was so small and everyone’s name was known. One name that stayed with me. Connie Fowler, she lived in Gulick Heights and she stopped by for a short visit on her way to the class reunion. I was delighted to see her. Like Donna Janzar she left Panama in 65 (I believe) so I felt a deep connection with her. It was a short visit, but I learned a lot about her. She does love the class that is for sure. I hope to see her again.
I am also thankful for connecting with a classmate I did not know in High School: Lenny Huff, a great guy.
I like getting older, for some that may seem strange, yet life seems to get richer as my future is becoming less than my past. I have medical problems, I can’t run up the stairs and my lungs could be better, but I laugh at myself when I look in the mirror and see my dad looking back at me. There are losses, in my family, I have lost two siblings, yet that is life, we age, move one and then really move on. I sometimes think of the song: “Row, row, row, your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”. I am beginning to understand that. You can’t stop a stream from flowing, nor time from moving us all forward. I hope that all of my classmates keep their humor and trust in life’s process no matter if Rapids have to be gone through and from time to time a waterfall gone over. In the end, we all get through it.
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