Some people never go to their high school reunions; my husband is one of them, but he did attend my 30 year class reunion with me. We were the class of 84, from Hammond Baptist High School in Schererville, Ind., with approx 77 graduates. There has been a five, a ten, twenty and a thirty year reunion and I have enjoyed them all. Each has been different and I must say, this one has meant the most to me. For one, it landed on my birthday and everyone wished me a happy birthday. Second, this group of people is full of love and life.
We pulled into town and Louie and I were invited to a fish fry my class-mate and friend, Steve was having at his in-law’s house. After stopping off at the hotel to freshen up and inviting a few more friends who wanted to spend time with me, we were off to the party. As we walked around to the back yard, smelling the fresh aroma of fish frying, we met up with Steve, his wife, Susan, his brother Dave, and dad. It was a joyous time because they made us feel comfortable and loved. Little did I know that Steve’s youngest daughter shares my same birthday which was a highlight for her and me.
The next afternoon I sent a text to a friend I had not seen since 6th grade to see if she wanted to get together. We lost touch when my parents decided to send me to Hammond Baptist School after being at Calumet Baptist for a few years; which is where Celeste and I became fast friends. When I told her Louie and I was coming for a visit, she asked me, “What do you want for your birthday?” I told her, “I just want to see you.”
She came to the hotel where we were staying as I anxiously watched for her truck to pull in the parking lot. When I went out to greet her, tears came to my eyes; I couldn’t believe we were together again. I was reminded of why I miss her so much. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her because I was searching the adult for the child in her. Then she smiled and there she was, my best friend. I brought some pictures to show her and a letter she had written to me 36 years ago. After I saw her response to the letter, I wanted her keep it so I gave it to her.
Louie and I had been invited for a pre-reunion lunch at TGI Friday’s, we were late and everyone had ordered, but it worked out fine. When we walked in to meet the eight class mates, I started to cry because everyone was so happy to see us. Seeing and being with them was like a warm blanket on a cold day. I just couldn’t believe how great it was to be with them.Lisa and Marc asked about what we were doing so we talked about jail and prison ministry. I told them I had written a book and they were so proud of me. We all talked and listened and never got tired or bored. Vicki told us of how she shot a deer and how it made her feel. It was intriguing to see her so excited. I watched her husband Dale, who is also a class mate, listen to her tell her story and could visibly see the love he has for her, on his face.
Lisa told us of a story of how she is able to minister to high powered women in a biblical way without using religious words. She is talking Spirit to them while teaching them who they are on the inside. As she told the story with passion and from a place way down inside her heart you could tell how much she is changing these women she talks to.
After a short nap and applying glue-on nails, it was time to go to the reunion. We weren’t the first to arrive but got there in time to unpack the memorabilia they asked us to bring. It was so much fun seeing what everyone brought and the pictures of us 30 years ago. We were there to make new memories as well, like the group photo, when John was making us all laugh so hard because the photographer was getting him to move here and there.
We had a cake; they sliced it up to hand out, but waited until they gave me a piece with a candle on it. The DJ played, “It’s your birthday” which was a surprise to me. He also played 80’s music which got us remembering all those crazy days. One girl told me that she remembers me telling her she could be a model some day, which she has never forgotten. Louie and I were blessed by everyone we talked to. I loved taking pictures and enjoying the company, I didn’t want to leave. I don’t think any of us did.
On our way home we reminisced about the experience and I heard Louie say to me about my class as a whole, that they are “successful, healthy, kind and genuine.” This is coming from a guy who didn’t grow up in church like we did, he went to a public school and didn’t have quite as strict Christian parents. His dad took him to church, but nothing like the way we were raised. So, coming from Him it really meant something.
All I know is that 30 years later, I didn’t think I would feel empowered by my class mates to know that I am not the only one. They go through the same things I go through as a 48 year old. I love my class and I miss them in between the 10 years. I wouldn’t take anything for the journey we all went through. Looking back, it was what shaped us for the adults that we are today. Our parents didn’t know what an impact it would make in our lives but God knew; He had a plan. I’m so thankful for God’s grace and mercy on our lives. He is so good and loves us so much. One of our class mates mentioned about how in his life now he is a salesman, but the reason he is so successful is because of what he learned going to teenage soul winning every Saturday while growing up. His experience of doors being slammed in his face and walking door to door telling others of Jesus and His love gave him what he needed to be brilliant at his job today.
The after glow of this time together still grows as I see relationships rekindled. I think that maybe we are getting older, wiser and appreciate the small things in life, but 30 years later, we still love like we did when we were young.