Thursday, May 20, 2010

The 70th reunion

My dad is from Pennsylvania, brought to Texas with the advent of his military service. My mother, Texas born and bred, was not about to move North, so they settled in her hometown. That did not stop the steady progression of our summer visits every 3-5 years back to his home.

I have sketchy memories of most of those visits. One set of cousins lived on a farm; I have no recollection whatsoever of visiting the other set who were still in PA. I know I was confused to see my grandmother's headstone with my grandfather's name ascribed beside it. Wasn't he still alive? The absence of dates must have escaped my elementary self. I remember meeting my father's mother's parents. They had an outhouse and my great-grandfather did not believe all that outer space and astronaut nonsense. They were merely filming it somewhere. My great-grandmother, blind and wheelchair-bound as she was a double amputee due to diabetes, told me the family genealogy. I scrawled it on a piece of lined notebook paper and later transferred it into a Bible.

But what I remember most was Daddy's five-year treks to his high school reunions. One in particular stands out, in a hotel dining room, and I have the idea that it was painted 50s green. There was an award for the grad who had traveled farthest--Daddy won--and the one with the most children. I don't remember the number, but her "award" was an apron which stated "I should have danced all night." I still find that clever.

A few days ago I received a letter from one of Daddy's classmates informing me, in a legible 89-year-old scrawl, that their 70th high school reunion was coming up. Of the 92 grads, 35 were still alive at her last count and she wanted to know about Daddy. She even remembered my sister and me at that early reunion.

I've written her back, telling her that Daddy is here in body, if not mind.

But, think about it. Seventy years, the first ones of which would have embroiled the young men in a war, and one-third of the class is still alive? I wonder if I'll be writing legible notes for my 70th, or if I'll even see it. And if I do, will I know anyone?

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