A few months back, I attended my 50th year high school reunion in Odessa. Over the years, I’ve attended a number of reunions, so I pretty much knew what to expect and looked forward to catching up with old classmates and sharing stories, laughs, and sentimental moments along the way.
Embellishing old anecdotes we’ve told so many times before make for heartier laughs and all the more fun. But this reunion was different... 50 years.
How can it be?
For any number of us, there seemed to be an underlying realization that this might be it, our last time to ever see some of these folks who were such a part of our past.
And as special as this occasion was for me, upon reflection there was actually a few unexpected highlights from the event that made it even more memorable. First, there was Becky’s mom. I had written about Becky (“Everybody’s Favorite”) in the Glen Rose Reporter back in April. She had been Miss Odessa High School 1968, Senior Class Favorite, Homecoming Queen and my 8th grade girlfriend. Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer in 1988, and in the article I reminisced about what a special gal she was.
Little did I know, Becky’s mom was still alive, residing in Odessa and still gets around a bit. Circumstances led me to meet her, visit a while and even have lunch together. What a delightful time it was!
After lunch, as I helped her with her walker to the car, she said “Charlie, your article on Becky was about the nicest thing that’s happened to me in a long, long time. I’ve read it over and over and it brings me to tears every time. I can’t thank you enough.”
I leaned over, embraced this 95-year-old lady and all I could muster up through my own tears was “you’re so welcome.”
Also at the reunion, a guy who I did not know well, came up to me and said he’d never told me before, but he thought I did really a good job as editor of our school newspaper and admired me for my work on the Student Council.
I had no idea. In school, he and I had maybe talked twice in passing. We just ran in different circles. Ronnie was the starting point guard for the basketball team and I was always envious of his athletic prowess. He now lives in the DFW area and we agreed to do lunch some time.
That did happen a couple months later and boy, did we enjoy exchanging stories about our high school days.
Finally, there was George. I hadn’t seen this classmate in over 50 years. I knew him from back in junior high. He lives in Houston now and has had some health and other tough issues. I told him I lived in Glen Rose and he blurted out “my dad just moved to a nursing home in Glen Rose.”
So when I got back to Glen Rose, I just felt drawn to look up George, Sr. and try to be a friend to my friend’s dad.
A part of the dwindling “Greatest Generation,” George sr. can still carry on good conversation at 95, and we’ve enjoyed talking about “Odessa” things back in the day.
His account of his involvement in the D-Day invasion and marching through France and Germany during WWII are riveting. Makes me appreciate all the more the sacrifices he and my parents’ generation made so that I had the freedom and opportunity to go to high school reunions and grow up in the best of times.
Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.