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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Reunions and Goodbyes

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Don’t you agree that class reunions are weird? You can never go home again, you know. The 5- and 10-year reunions can be mildly entertaining. We show up, still remembering how we felt as undergrads or high schoolers, not too far removed from it. Everyone laughs and recalls funny incidents supported by yearbooks. Hugs and screams of glee ensue as we recognize friends we haven’t seen since graduation. We look for that old boyfriend or date who made our heart skip a beat while we cling to the arm of our spouse who may or may not have attended our high school/college. After that, at least in my experience, it’s not much fun anymore. The same cliques gather together across the dance floor, and it’s just too much trouble to act interested in piercing the thin veil that holds them all together. We’d rather just exit that world once and for all and walk back into the “real world,” the one that contains our spouses, our children, our jobs. Things we could barely imagine when we were in high school or college.

There is one reunion that never happened for me, unfortunately. That was the reunion of my law school class of 1984. We didn’t even have a yearbook. When I walked into my criminal law class on the first day of school in the fall of 1981, I never dreamed that I’d form friendships I’d enjoy for the rest of my life. I went because I was an English major in college and I didn’t want to teach. And, I was in love with a man who was in dental school and would remain there for the following three years. So, what better way to bide my time than earning a law degree? Amazingly, I’d been accepted to St. Mary’s University School of Law, and here I was, entering the school with a crim law book and a yellow highlighter. The first surprise was my cool, young professor. He was cute, funny and smart and held the attention of all of his first year students. I found out later that he lived in the same apartment complex of my boyfriend. He even partied with us, sharing pitchers of beer in the Pecan Grove on Fridays after class. I made friends with a girl from Kerrville who took the best notes in shorthand and seemed to “get it.” I became friends with a Vanderbilt grad from Greenville, Texas, whose father was a lawyer like mine. I became better acquainted with a group of guys from my hometown, Cuero, we were four Gobblers in all. And, we all were friends with a number of other guys and gals from all over the state, who were getting a law degree at different stages of our lives. We had to attend classes together. We chose to go to lunch and dinner together. We enjoyed partying together on weekends. When our three years of law school were finished, I married my college sweetheart.  Most of my law school buddies attended my wedding just three months following graduation. We posed for a law school picture. And that was that. We never had another reunion.

Of course, some of my girlfriends and I have stayed in touch, even starting a supper club that still meets to this day, some 32 years later. But many of us have only a vague idea where the others are, and have not been in touch at all. No reunions, no graduate directories, nothing. Last year about this time out of the blue I got a call from a friend who lived in Dallas.  I hadn’t seen him since my wedding, but we’d been close friends in law school. He asked if my husband and I could meet him and his wife for lunch in San Antonio as they’d be here for the weekend. We met for Mexican food on the patio on the first weekend of May, when the breeze was still cool and we could enjoy our margaritas, chips and guacamole outside under an umbrella. After 31 years, we hugged, laughed and chatted nonstop for 2 1/2 hours. I basked in the glow of happy remembrances, his voice taking me back to that special time so many years ago. We, along with our spouses, pieced together our recollections and remembrances, and caught each other up on the births of our children, they even had one grandchild! Our laughter was contagious and it seemed like no time had passed. Towards the end of our meal, my old friend quietly informed us that he had advanced stage cancer. He was undergoing an experimental treatment, but had no idea if he was actually being treated or given a placebo. My happy heart suddenly filled with dread. I felt so sad, yet so thrilled to be sharing this time with him. We all reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the table and headed back into our real lives. We hugged each other and I whispered to my friend, “I’ll be praying for you.” He thanked me warmly.

Late last week I received an email that my old pal was in hospice care. His family was praying that he’d go quickly. Today the news came that he’d passed away. I felt so sad that all these years had passed without much contact between us. Then I realized it was because we’d each lived lives full of work, family, children and grandchildren. Yet, last year he’d taken the time to come and say goodbye. And to say that he’d appreciated our friendship, brief as it was.

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Disconnected

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IMG_4888I recently traveled with my husband to Cancun, Mexico for a little February R & R. As soon as we landed my phone lit up with a helpful message from AT&T. “Welcome to Mexico. Your texting fee will be $___per text, and your phone calls will be $___ per minute.” I felt secure in the knowledge that my connection to the USA was intact, although I didn’t anticipate needing to use my phone.

One hour later, when we were happily settled in our hotel room,  I took a photo of our beautiful view of the Caribbean to send to our girls, texting, “We made it to Mexico!” I waited for their excited replies. Nothing. An hour later, I glanced at my phone. Red bold print screamed “Not Delivered!” I clicked on the exclamation mark, which helpfully offered to “Send as Text Message.” I clicked on that and waited another few minutes. Nothing. Hmm. This was a little disconcerting. Maybe there’s poor reception in the hotel room. I stepped out onto my balcony and sent again. Nothing. Then that red text again, “Not Delivered!” Ok. I’ll try again when we go to dinner, I thought. Later, at the restaurant a few miles down the road from the hotel, I peeked at my phone and hit the “Try Again” button. A few minutes later, I checked the screen only to again find the dreaded red phrase, “Not Delivered!” Alright already. Geez, stop mocking me. We enjoyed our dinner, although I remarked to my husband that it seemed weird not being able to let our kids know we’d safely arrived in another country. We’d had to go through customs, for heaven’s sake. “I doubt they’re worried about us,” Hubby offered, helpfully. I couldn’t shake the slight discomfort I felt. 

The next morning I awoke to my phone’s tri-tone texting signal. “Doodl-ie-doo!”  I sat up, remembered where I was, then reached for my phone on the bedside table. It was all a blur until I found my readers, but I felt fairly certain that I could see a new text on the screen. “Hey! Did y’all make it okay? I hope you’re not in a Mexican prison.” Our eldest had reached out and made contact. I felt so relieved and quickly texted back, “YES! We are here. Bad cell service, but it’s beautiful!” I watched the screen expectantly, only to be met with “Not Delivered!” Ok. Really? I wished whoever was typing would stop placing an exclamation point at the end of the unhelpful phrase. It reminded me of “Jeb!” And we know how that turned out. Another Doodle-ie-doo. “I’m worried. I haven’t heard from you Mom. Please text back and let me know you’re ok.” Fast as lightning I wrote, “YES. We are fine. Thanks for checking. Bad service but all is well.” Instantly, almost cheerfully, the message”Not Delivered!” appeared again. I wasted no time getting out of bed and dressing. “I’ll be downstairs,” I told my husband who was peacefully sleeping through all the phone drama. I approached the front desk  with my serious business-like face. “Buenos Dias, Señora! Como esta?” Oh I’m just bueno, I answered. WHY CAN’T I SEND A TEXT? I practically yelled. The nice gentleman at the desk replied, “Well, it just depends on your provider. Did you let them know you’d be out of the country?” I thought about this a minute then answered, “No. I just crossed the border to Mexico from San Antonio. Is that a problem?” He looked bemused and wrinkled his forehead. “Maybe they want you to purchase an international plan,” he offered, helpfully. I wasn’t about to purchase “an international plan.” Are you kidding me? For just a few days in Mexico? Ha! How silly! I came up with a new plan. I’d just email my daughters and ease their minds about our wellbeing. “What is your wi-fi password,” I asked smugly. “Oh our internet’s not very good,” my helpful deskman replied, smiling conspiratorially at his coworkers. WHY WON’T YOU LET ME SPEAK TO MY CHILDREN,  I wanted to scream. Instead, I calmly turned away and headed back to my room. I know! I’ll call them, I thought, feeling super-smart. I put my finger on my daughter’s name in my phone and the next thing I knew, I heard it ringing. “Oh hi,” my eldest answered, “What’s up?” “Hi! We’re here. In Mexico,” I said, relieved and revived. “Oh good. I thought it was weird that I hadn’t heard from you or gotten a photo or something.” I spoke quickly and plainly, “We have spotty phone service so I can’t text you. But I’m getting your texts so be sure and keep ’em coming! I’ll call you if there’s an emergency. Oh, and let your sisters know,”  I instructed. It was amazing the relief I felt as I hung up. 

My husband and I enjoyed a relaxing day on the beach. I tried not to look at my phone too often but, that afternoon I thought I heard a text come in. Sure enough. “Hey. Do you mind if I use your credit card for a manicure?” Then, a couple of hours later another one wrote, “Hola. Hope y’all are having fun. Can I invite some friends to dinner and charge it to the card?” Next, “Hi Mom. I just found some super cute shorts for spring break. Can I put them on your card? Just text if not ok.” I felt as if my hands were tied behind my back. “NO. NO. NO.” I repeatedly texted. “Not Delivered!” the evil phone god typed. I turned the thing off and threw it to the bottom of my suitcase where I couldn’t hear it for the next four days. Free at last, thank God almighty. Free at last.