Twenty Years

Posted: July 29, 2008 in Lessons

The Class of ’88

Recently, in an attempt to conserve space and stay currrent with the technological revolution, I converted our VHS tapes to DVDs, one of which was my high school graduation. I attended a tiny Christian school, so there were only nineteen of us that comprised the Class of ’88. On the video, I watched us walk in and out in our lavender (yes, lavender) robes to Pomp and Circumstance on piano, listened to our class song get cut short because the guitar solo at the end ran a little too long and was probably a little too hard for such a sterile occasion, laughed as Scott unknowingly put his hat on sideways after the invocation, and listened to several speeches.

Specifically, I listened to Coach Watson’s speech, probably for the very first time.

I heard him say that he had been out of high school twenty years, and I nearly fell out of my chair. Now no one thought Coach Watson ancient when he was our senior class sponsor, but for some reason the fact that we are now the same age he was in 1988 was a little unsettling. I kept listening, and I realized we really should have listened to him in that hot gymnasium twenty years ago.

We had our class reunion a couple of weeks ago now. Ten members of the Class of ’88 arrived with either spouse or children or both. Three of our classmates replied unable to attend, five did not respond at all, and Scott, my best friend that special year, has been dead for years. I felt nervous when I arrived at the hotel, and for the life of me didn’t know why. I felt much better later on when I heard others say they were nervous, too.

It turned out to be a wonderful evening, comfortable, filled with food and friends and memories of days long since past. The high school girls had all turned into beautiful women, and excepting my bald head and Joe’s distinguished gray, the guys aged okay, too. Joe was the one stuck with planning our reunion so he did it his way with none of the uncomfortable formalities. There were no reports on who had down what with his or her life, just old friends sitting around swapping stories. It made Coach Watson’s 1988 speech proud.

I didn’t hear a word of that speech on graduation night, but when I finally listened to it twenty years later I heard him say that awards are overrated. They’re fine, but not what life is all about. He said that parents are pushy and want their kids to be the best and be recognized for it, but what really matters is doing your best, not being the best. In fact, he said Christians are to be more interested in putting others first anyway.

I think I know now why we were all a little nervous headed to our class reunion. We knew what these things were supposed to be about – who still looks good (or who doesn’t anymore), who has a great job (and who doesn’t have a great job), and who is the most “successful.” Coach Watson tried to head that off twenty years ago, and thankfully, Joe designed our reunion like he was still listening to the speech. We are a group of people bound together by a shared history, followed by twenty years of ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures, and plenty to be both proud of and embarrassed by…

Ahem, may I have your attention please, Class of 1988? We were given good advice long ago. It is a waste of time chasing after the awards of life, and it’s just plain silly comparing ourselves to one another. Let’s just do our best and be satisfied with that.

You are now free to proceed with the next twenty years.

  1. bixbydeb says:

    I have enjoyed reading your blogs. I was wondered who the “kids”, yes, “kids” (in my mind as a teacher, past students will always (in some way) be “kids”) at your reunion are. If you get a few minutes could you list their names. Thanks, Debbie Roberts aka “Mrs. Ray”

  2. alsturgeon says:

    Back row: Steve Shewbuirt, Jamey McFadden, Chris Henson, Joe Chesser, Me

    Front row: Cindy (Long), Kristi (Cothren), Celia (Caraway), Dodie (Brinkley), Karla (Pringle)

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