Captain’s Log 4,405
Home again. Farewells at the airport were heartfelt and profound. We made an agreement to meet up again next year. If all the cards fall into place, it might be Amsterdam in the spring. We decided to meet as the three amigos next year rather than try to pull off a yearly reunion with the entire gang. If we do that too frequently, the allure may turn dim and people will skip a year. What was important this time was having everyone there.
Hats off to everyone who made our stay even more excellent. We were given a tour of the school (Miss Noreen), cookies (Miss Mary), a lovely happy hour (Miss Jean), dinner on the farm (Miss Bette), and lunch (Darlene’s parents). It was all WAY more than we expected. To find people so willing to welcome us after all this time was remarkable. It warmed our hearts and souls beyond measure.
Dinner the first night took six hours as we all took a spin in “the seat” telling the stories of life that led us to where we are now. Most everyone has had a grand adventure or two. There were marriages for most but not all. Children, grandchildren. Two among the group are widows. Only one divorce (quite surprising). Some made a plan and stuck with it in terms of their careers. Others, like myself, have wandered all over the map and have not quite landed anywhere. I was the most unfocused and adrift of the group, and that does not come as any surprise. I always was and probably always will be. That’s been both a bane and a blessing. What I have lacked in security I have made up for in adventure. Sounds like an even trade in the grand scheme of a lifetime.
Many personal stories were shared. Some of them were as painful to hear as they were to be told. All of these experiences have formed us into the people we are today, and the resilience of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me. We have all struggled in our own ways, and those journeys have built strength and character. There were tears of sorrow and painful recollections, but nobody sat in their own stink and blamed anyone for the choices they have made as an adult. Nobody was “stuck” in the past. Everyone had moved beyond those bonds of self-oppression. We were all warriors.
We sang some of the old songs when we gathered at the farm for a lovely dinner. I tried to play a borrowed guitar, but the strings were so old and the “action” set so high, all I really managed to do was thud out some chords. My fingers were on fire ater 30 minutes. I had to stop before blisters formed. Just like old times, there we were – back singing protest songs and feeling the groove of the times. We were raised in turbulence – Vietnam was in full swing. There were many choices to make.
We left on Wednesday morning and headed across the state to meet up with our high school history teacher. She was inspirational in so many ways. She was a rebel when she came to teach at our school, and her time there was rife with challenges. We challenged her (in a good way – or so she says), but the town was unkind. Someone shot out her bedroom window, she always walked with another nun so she wouldn’t get run over by a car, parents ganged up and complained about her, etc. In the end, she was forced out of the school. The best most thought-provoking teacher that ever set foot inside the building was cut loose. How sad. I was very attracted to her rebellious sensibilities, and I consider her one who shaped my life into what it is today.
She left teaching and worked in prisons, worked as a consultant, and became a strong advocate for peace and justice. She is now retired and spends her days driving older nuns to medical appointments, etc. She said she just got tired and needed to stop and rest. Bless her.
Our choir director from high school was also in Dubuque, and she sat and visited with us for brief time.
The choir director and the history teacher. Polar opposites and we loved them both.