Sunday, October 19, 2008

Celebrating and Continuing the Journey

Who are your friends? Who do you connect with? Why are they your friends? When are they your friends? How are they your friends? What reasons are they your friends?

As I was walking through the “Journey” over the last few days – and especially with the thoughts of the last post – I thought of one person that contacted me by one the Internet tools that I had looked in on. He is a retired teacher now. Along with the contact came a really old photo of me and some other guys in grade 5 or 6. There we were – old friends. The faces were familiar for sure. Some lived in the same area that we did – in homes that were not the best and a community that was kind run down. We were surrounded by “have nots” like us and never knew it. (you can guess which one I am below)
It was when I was in grade 8 that we moved to the area where doctor’s, lawyers and politicians has their homes in our city. It was an old and well developed area.

I was able to attend the same school with my same friends until the end of grade 8 when I would be done at that school. But my friends began changing quickly. In the new community I met the guys two doors down – Nicki and Andrew, Catholic kids that attended a Catholic School three blocks away. Five doors down was Stuart, a neat guy with similar interests to me. The four of us did stuff together for the rest of the year until the end of summer. In fact it was the summer time that usually connected us. Nicki and Andrew had to attend the one Catholic High School which was a long way south of us. Stuart and I went to the same school.

An interesting concept existed in the school system then. If you came from a certain school you generally went into a similar class that first year. The Classes were labeled 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E and 1F. At one point they added a 1G as well. 1A kids were generally from the area that we lived in. But because I had graduated from the other school, where kids came from a little less than perfect – the “have nots” – we all went into the 6th class down the alphabet. Academically, 1F were not as good as 1A. However after the Frosh Year(grade 9ers) there was another adjustment to the class room. Smart guys moved up to higher levels. Well that is not fair to say… it was more likely people that applied themselves to their school work, worked hard, and did their best that moved up into higher levels of classes.

Stuart was in either the A level class or B. He did well in Math and Science. My sights were on fun and the creative. I did okay in the studies generally but they were not my greatest love for sure. So “F” was my stream and we had fun. My brother was a “G” and my sisters were “B”s.

Stuart ended up teaching Math as a full professor at a major University in Ontario. Nicki, who had been a terrible nightmare for the Nuns at his school – hitting one in the back of the head with a raw egg – ended up as a Catholic Priest. Andrew his brother who was the “goodie-goodie” never missing mass or church services – ended up in the Navy and lived a Navy Lifestyle.

Four different friends that are far away from each other – too far to ever make a reunion possible. And if we did, what would we ever talk about? It all ended after High School or in High School… and definitely into University when we all went to four distinctly different area of life.

Sorry about that – a senior’s moment – wondering out into the school yard and forgot what I was saying…

My thoughts are about my friends now. Or in your case – your friends now…Who do we have?

Changing roles in late life can be disconcerting. When your friends move away you are left behind. When they still do the long journeys south and you do not – you are left behind. In the older senior’s life – this is definitely true – most have passed on or now in senior’s residences where contact is more difficult.

In reality at the end you are a little bit like you are at the beginning – you start school new each day wondering if you will make friends.

For those that Divorced or were widowed there is a whole new list of friends (or no friends) after a while.

For those that are married a changing list is available or not… maybe isolation with job changes.

Celebrating a Journey with its many turns and bends in and on it… is good – sometimes. But at times it feels like you are terribly alone. And maybe that is because you really are.

Back to yesterday’s post and watching my mom sitting alone with her thoughts and her family moving so quickly. At 87 she has few friends around her now. The move to Peterborough was separation from her friends in Regina. Now some of them are gone. Phone calls still come… but not as many. People moved on with their lives. Time kept rolling and so did friends.

Where will I be at 87? That is only 23 years from now. How many friends will still be connecting with me or will the guys my age all be gone?

I have a new YEAR’S resolution now…not waiting for the NEW YEAR. I resolve to meet two new people each day. I figure that I will have 60 new friends by the end of November. At least I plan to. By the end of 23 years from now – there may be 16,790 new friends that look forward to seeing me… and when they have my Memorial Service what a party that will be – with the better part of 16,790 people coming together – woooiiiee…Holy Mackerel, Holy Cow, Hokey Mokey – what a party that will be. NO I WON’T BE THERE – but I will be with the Hundreds of Thousands that I have already me…shaking hands and hugging and doing all the stuff old friends will do…. Holy Mackerel, Holy Cow, Hokey Mokey what a party that will be!

I have been practicing that over this past week. It is amazing the reaction that is coming.

Today I will celebrate and continue the journey with a while new group of friends – that is my resolution.

How about you?

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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