Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Childhood links remain

April 4, 2012

“I love you little, I love you big; I love you like a little pig.” She leans over the faded pages of my grade school autograph book, reads from something she wrote. I found the little red book, cover tattered and pages yellow and thin, looking for some pictures.

Preparations for a high school reunion brought us back together. We hadn’t seen each other for 50 years; half a century. It’s hard to put those years in perspective — a big gap of time, yet so small a distance in some ways.

We met for a lunch that lasted a couple hours. I can’t even remember now what we talked about — parents, kids, classmates probably. We have been trying to find classmates who have gotten lost in the shuffle of life events. We want to see them again.

There is something about reconnecting with someone who has known you for such a long time; the world does not seem so large, nor one’s boat so small. The waters we have chartered over the years have taken us far, and brought many of us back to where we first launched our respective vessels.

I like the people I went to school with; I don’t know them all, but remember most of them. Looking at grade school pictures, I can see a gaggle of well-scrubbed, bright-faced youngsters; eager to be where they are, doing what they are doing. There is one or two that looks unhappy or out of place; but for the most part, it is otherwise.

There are our teachers: Misses Kloepper, O’Malley, and Cigna; we called them all by formal, proper names. In those early years, we addressed our teachers with respect, just as we saluted the flags in our classrooms and sang boldly of our country and our creator. Mrs. Baldwin was my third grade teacher, took us all to her home where we watched the inaugural ceremony of President Eisenhower. We were connected in those days, in so many ways.

It is a good feeling to be connected; to be part of a greater whole. The real essence of life is, I think, the relationships we form and by which we are formed over a lifetime. In her book, Dakota, a Spiritual Geography, Kathleen Norris says that we are formed by the landscape in which we live. A vital part of that landscape is its people.

Later, leafing through my autograph book, I find one from a neighbor, a favorite childhood friend. In childhood scrawl, she wrote: “In your golden chain of friendship, please count me as a link.”

Forged in childhood, tested by time, we are joined, link by link. Though the chain be tarnished, and the links weakened, it has held fast. However far apart, we are still one.

Reunion is the time to come home and be counted as a link.

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