Last month I attended a college reunion. Looking backward, a hundred years goes by quickly. One day simply moves into the next and the next and the next and still the next, but each of those serial days may seem to last a century in itself. I felt anticipation and a bit of dread about attending. After all, I last saw many of these acquaintances when Richard Nixon was President. My hair dries a lot faster now than then. Some of us continued our friendships over the years and we stood by one another during marriages and births and deaths and divorces. Some of us have reconnected through Facebook and other networks.
So I went to a 40-year college reunion and saw old friends who remembered stories together. We’re old enough now to laugh at our serious past moments and wise enough to forget the embarrassing times. People remembered my newspaper editorials, my politics, my motorcycle, and my muscle car known as The Beast. We passed around old yearbooks and remembered.
I went to the dedication of a room in memory of Dan Biggers. Dan held a variety of positions in the school’s administration. He loved working with students, and he also loved the theater and acting. Dan died two years ago, but I still see him on television where he played the role of the medical examiner on In the Heat of the Night. Dan had a wonderful Georgia accent that Hollywood deemed inappropriate for “Sparta” and so Dan’s voice always seems a little fake to me on that television program. A part of his family attended the dedication and we traded stories about Dan’s gifts. One of his tangible gifts to me was co-signing a short-term loan for that first motorcycle, and in his own theatrical way, Dan would never name it. It was always “that darn you-know-what.” (I paid off the note, didn’t hurt myself too badly in any of the motorcycle accidents, and eventually moved up to a sports car.) Far beyond that co-signer signature, Dan offered me and all others the gifts of encouragement and affirmation and love.
A good time in a special place. I returned home from that reunion with a deep sense of gratitude for that time and place and the relationships that remain holy memories.