Public School meets Middle Age.

There we were, gathering in the parking lot of a building that used to be a mill and is now a fancy restaurant, smack dab in the middle of our home town. We hadn’t seen each other since late public school, early high school, and certainly hadn’t kept in touch.

But as people near retirement, they start to take care of the things that matter. And it really mattered that we take time to break bread, explore our lives, and celebrate our very different existences.

Six women... Eleanor, Marion, Judy, Brenda, and Elizabeth... and me.

And we probably all had the same concerns that morning as we applied makeup, taking extra care around the crows feet, and wishing away a few pounds, wondering how we’d all held up. And as each of us got out of our cars, coming from miles and miles away (some of us), the uncertainties melted as we smiled and hugged.

The power of reminiscence! We talked of our summer jobs... picking peas at the Bosman farm and how the Dutch girls were the fastest pickers... funny how we remembered names immediately! We remembered trips to the woollen mills in Hespeler for Home Ec class, flipping through bolts of fabric to sew cheerleading costumes.

We remembered piano lessons and concerts, proms and graduations, pregnancies and marriages, babies who are now parents themselves. We passed around pictures... some of our children, and some of their grandchildren! Eleanor, for instance, is farming north of our home town, and her five sons have given her seven grandchildren so far. Our Home Ec teacher would be proud!

And life isn’t a bowl of cherries, totally, so we listened as Elizabeth told of her brother, brain-injured when his car was hit by a truck. And for 15 years, he has been in her care, painstakingly learning how to do little, tiny tasks. A motivational speaker with a fabulous message, permanently sidelined and cared for with love by his sister.

One of is a widow. Another is divorced. A third is working still in support of her husband’s dream. A fourth is recently retired. And so on, and so on.

We gathered for a group picture, probably smiling much as we did for our class photo in Grade 9. A man nearby offered to click the shutter. We thanked him. And then we looked again... isn’t he so-and-so’s little brother? Indeed he is. Except, now he’s the mayor. Second term. Go figure.

Lunch. Past. Present. Melting down the differences that took us off in all directions. Connected by the sameness of our childhood existence, its stability, its laughter. We’ll do it again.

Soon.

Thanks, Brenda. Thanks, Elizabeth, Thanks, Eleanor. Thanks, Marian. Thanks, Judy.

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