Who was your best friend at school? What are your fondest memories? If you were to go back for your 50th reunion of your senior year, who and what would you want to see and why?
It was my father’s 50 year reunion just a few weeks ago, a celebration he was enamoured to be a part of. An “old boy” from Brisbane, he went back with all the nostalgia he could muster, and he wasn’t disappointed. Despite living in the same city as many of his old school friends, he had not kept up with many of them and so the reunion was really special.
50 years is a long time as many of you will know. It is enough time for many of the bad memories of school to have washed away and for the fond memories to become fonder and fonder. It is also long enough to know the raw truth of how long 50 years is.
He had no way of knowing when he left school that in a few short years several of his classmates would be gone or that by the 50th anniversary of his graduation, a fairly large group were not to be living.
But the reunion didn’t lose its gloss to that. In 50 years, a lot had changed.
“The school was larger, much larger; and the people were older, much older; the heads were balder, much balder and no one looked much like they used to, but we knew that from the 20th reunions so it was O.K.” – but he says he felt as young as ever.
“I looked around and we all looked, well… like a bunch of old fellas”, he said with a huge grin, “but the memories were like yesterday as we stood around and chatted through the old times, and what had happened since our youth”.
“A lot of things have happened since we were at school. We’d lost a fair few along them way, sadly, but they didn’t go unremembered, and we’d learned a lot”.
It is funny how now, at the humble age of 67, a reunion is no longer about proving anything to anyone… “It is just about enjoying the time we had and truly catching up,” he said.
The memories of collegiate sports came rolling back for my 67-year-old dad, graduate of the class of ’64, like the photos on the walls. Rowing, football, and the associated fun was part of every conversation it seemed.
And there was some big lessons he took away:
- To your class, you’ll always look like you did a half-century ago
“Despite a room of bald heads, none of us saw each other as 67-year-old men. We saw each other as young as the early days, for the memories we shared”.
- The person you were at school is not who you are today.
‘We spend 5 years at school and 50 years living life… the journey since school makes for many an interesting discussion and you learn a lot by listening”.
- By now, you are beyond showing off. You no longer have anything to prove.
“No one is comparing cars, jobs or statistics. We now talk incessantly about health, memories and grandkids… makes for better conversation”.
When you’re 18 years old, leaving school for life and/or university, anything seems possible.
When you’re 67 years old, at your 50th reunion, you’ve gained so much wisdom from the bumps in the road. And now is the time to sit back and share it. You’ve lost the youthful naiveté as it is replaced by mature conservatism, and still we were like young boys again, just for one evening.
Have you had your 50th reunion? What was it like and what did you notice about it? Were your best friends and finest memories there?