Connecting with the past

I returned from my high school classmates’s funeral feeling pretty poignant. Henry, only 66, was father to five children and many grandchildren. He was fondly spoken of as son, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, friend, but no where was husband mentioned. As he was in high school, Henry was very popular in his life with all people and especially the girls. He never lost his boyish good looks and charming personality.

One young man who spoke at the service is the son of another of my school mates. Henry had been two years ahead of me in school, but this young man’s dad, Steven, was in my class. It turns out that Henry married his high school sweetheart, the aunt of this young man who spoke. I knew her, too, but never knew they had married. Henry graduated in 1968 and from that point until I read his obituary in the paper, I lost all contact. As I said in an earlier post, these people were all freeze-framed at that point. It never occurred to me that they were living and loving life. Today their lives all fast-forwarded in front of me.

Stories from high school. Stories about raising children. Stories about work, vacations, holidays. Children grow up, have their own children. Grandchildren appear. Nephews, nieces share memories. Wives and mothers disappear.  Illness enters the picture. Henry and his older brother both gone. Forty six years passed within the hour of the funeral service.

Listening to the stories this morning brought back memories of how we all grew up in that farm community. We were raised by good, decent people who worked hard to give us a good life. I also pondered what my life would have been like had I married my high school sweetheart. But I didn’t have a high school sweetheart. I didn’t even date in high school. It would be another six years before I would marry someone I met while in college.

Now I sit, on another hot afternoon, pondering the lives of those I knew so many years ago. Remembering what they were like all those years ago. Thinking about the 46 years of living that occurred while I was going about my own routine.





8 responses to “Connecting with the past

  1. Good that you went to the funeral, I think. Funny about your high school sweetheart, the one that never was!

  2. Very moving post, indeed. I can relate to what you say here, having felt it many times when returning to the past through whatever venue that took me there. You captured it very well, and now I’m thinking of my own classmates, wondering…

    • Glad it tickled your ‘pondering’ bone, too. Does make one wonder what happened to all those people and how their lives were lived while we were busy living our own.

  3. Nothing like a funeral to lead to reflection. Life is so short. It seems like only yesterday we were kids.

    • Do you ever think that somewhere all those people you knew and when you knew them are just hanging around, waiting for you to step back to that time? I know that sounds so weird, but every so often I glimpse a photo of our daughter as a baby and wonder if I left her somewhere and should be looking for her.

  4. Yes, I know what you mean. I keep thinking if I return to High Point NC, everything will be the same. Such a surprise that others have gone on with their lives without you. You really can’t go home again.

  5. 66 is too young. How sad. A friend of mine died at the age of 84. I did not attend his funeral. I don’t attend funerals anymore. There will be none for me, as I intend to have a short burial or scattering ceremony open to close family members only.

  6. wow. moving storytelling. most of my highschool classmates are on facebook. it might be a little different for me years from now. 66 is indeed young. my dad is around that age!

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