Reunion | Eastern North Carolina Now

Lib Campbell: Above
    The Greenville Rose High School graduating class of 1963 met for its sixtieth reunion this weekend. As one who only married into the festivities, I admit to a little nervousness coming into the mix among my husband's old friends and classmates. What would I have to offer anybody? But this weekend was not about me and how I would feel being the interloper.

    It was pure joy and blessing to see these, now 78-year-old classmates remembering their school days and laughing together at the stories they shared in common. I was drawn into all the fun because of who they were. In their joy of being together and simply being alive there was indeed a beautiful celebration where everybody was welcome.

    Aging is a beautiful gift. Sometimes it is hard to recognize the measure of years - they go so swiftly by. But it hits us when we remember all of our peers who have died through the sixty years since graduation. The most recent deaths were due to COVID and dementia. People looked at the pictures of their fallen classmates with reverence and a recognition that by the next reunion more deaths will likely be added. The sheer gift of being alive is something to cherish.

    While it is certain there were ideological differences among the sixty or so classmates and their spouses, past common experiences served as a bridge above whatever differences there were that separated the group. It's like we all remembered what Mama said, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Too many people in the world today think they can say anything they want to, unbridled, cruel, untrue, and call it a first amendment right. Most of us would call it dirty and uncivilized. It was good that for one bright shining weekend, peace and goodwill were lived among the group.

    Wisdom comes with age. Knowing our limitations, knowing ourselves, learning how to live peaceably comes with age and intention. Carelessness in the ways we live together prevent re-union, the concept of becoming one again. The Class of 1963 took care in honoring one another, for their accomplishments in high school football, cheerleading, being prom queen and king. Sweet memories filled the time, even as for some, memories are fading.

    Some of us had walking sticks and canes, and some had walkers. Hearing aids were a topic of conversation, as were counting the number of pacemakers among us. I won't even talk about the about the colonoscopy conversation! That's what old people do as they catch up with each other. Most of the group have lived their best lives in medicine, teaching school, working in the hospitality industry, being engineers and bankers. There was even one broadcaster among them. The contributions of this class stand in history that nobody can take away.

    So we who are aging, we who are old - and I will tell you, seventy-eight is not the new fifty - continue work to find meaning in life. We read to stay informed about the world. We have time for letter writing and playing with our grandchildren. We work to stay strong and as limber as we can. It could be depressing, except with the coming of age, there also comes satisfaction in the ways we have lived our lives. If there is not satisfaction, perhaps there is more work to do.

    There is also time for delighting and marveling in the world and the people around us. We are slowed by time itself. In the slowing down, there is opportunity to stop and smell roses and be more attentive to the beauty around us. Small things become more precious. Work toward achievement is simply not as important. Yet, we have time to focus on important things, things that really impact the world around us. Most of us begin in these years to clarify what is important and what is not, and less is increasingly more important.

    A reunion is a blessed time of remembering what was, giving thanks, and making our plan for what's next. We live in an age that needs re-union. What can bridge our cultural divides? How do we realize the vision of who we are called to be? Thanks for the lessons, Class of 1963. Y'all rock!

    Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader and hosts the website: She welcomes comments at
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