Friday, August 15, 2008

Longing for the "good old days"

I just came home from a birthday party for one of my dear friends - her 70th! Wasn't it only yesterday that, when I went to a birthday party for a dear friend, he/she was 15? Where have the years gone? I was honored to share the table (the party was at a little tearoom in town) with a woman who has been my friend for over 50 years. Much of that time, we've been BEST friends. We were reminiscing about all the wonderful people who have left the stage that this present generation will never have the opportunity to know. Our Primary Sunday School teacher, Viva Laswell, who could keep all 40+ of her primary class spellbound with Bible stories. And all this without the aid of Powerpoint, DVDs or anything else new-fangled. She even took in stride when two of the little guys, Ronnie Kee and Gilbert Dickey, got up to sing their favorite Sunday School song and belted out, "Davey. Davey Crockett. King of the wild frontier . . " without missing a lick. My Intermediate Girls' teacher, who wasn't the best teacher I ever had. But she had a unique gift. She offered us certificates with big stick-on stars for memorizing various parts of the Bible -- the Ten Commandments, Books of the Bible, 23rd Psalm, Beatitudes and Lord's Prayer. Those are things I've never forgotten, and I've incorporated the memorization into my working with children as well. Most of our memories revolved around the elderly who have gone on, but there are some young ones, too. The young man I was raised with who stepped on a landmine in Vietnam and was killed. My "boyfriend" for many of my growing-up years who died lately of cancer. The 18-year-old friend who was killed in a motorcycle accident.

We all leave our mark. I'm sure those teachers I had as a kid wondered if they were impacting my life for good at all. But they were. And beyond that, they were piecing together a wonderful patchwork quilt for me that has literally made me who and what I am. I used to look forward, dreaming of what it would be like to grow up. Now I look backward, remembering how filled-to-the-brim my life has been. Looking back is what makes me excited about going forward. Life has been so good that I don't want to miss a second of what it still has to offer. There are definite advantages to aging, and one of those is remembering.

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