Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Remembrance, Reflection and Reunion

On June 28th, Mark and I participated in the Memorial Celebration of Life of our dear friend, Gary Schroeder. He was Mark's childhood friend and we double dated with Gary and Judy in high school. We lost track of each other for several years and then one day while we lived in Burbank, CA. I got an amazing phone call and it was Judy! They too lived in California and luckily we renewed our friendship and enjoyed many fun times together before we retired to Nebraska.

It was a shock when Gary was diagnosed with lung cancer and a deep loss when he died on December 31, 2013. Gary was a lovely man, one of the 'good guys', a great friend, husband and father. At the Memorial, friends and family told wonderful stories that exemplified his character and personality.

He didn't know before he died that he would have been a grandfather, but a grand baby is on its way to the delight of Judy and his family and friends.

We had an emotional day remembering Gary as the person we knew, and the life he lived and the profound realization that we had him no more. We also thought of Judy and the new life she would need to create for herself; and their grandchild who would never know him personally, and his children who would miss his wit, wisdom and love.

All of us face this but it doesn't seem real until it happens to us or people we love. These occasions are significant in that they remind us of our own mortality and how precious our lives are so we get a chance to reassess and reboot, if necessary.

The Memorial was held in our home town in South Dakota so many old friends and classmates were there which provided the joy of the day. I was reacquainted with friends from high school that were 18 or 19 the last time we saw each other- that is 45+ years! Boy, is that a reality check. I don't know about you, but I feel like 'myself' inside and if asked an age, it would be 20 something. So when meeting with high school friends after that time apart, the reality of 'real age' hits hard!

(L to R)Judy McKay Schroeder, me, Linda McFarland Engel, Quindrid Albert Godden, Sue Miller Tuttle
The delight for me was that the faces were still the same but just a little more lived in. The twinkle of the eye, the wit,humor and laugh, the voice, the mannerisms and expressions were still distinctly there. It was great fun to catch up on each others lives and the people we've all become. I had such warm wonderful feelings as we left town and I thought about reconnecting with these lovely women and hoping there would be more visits in the future.

Old college friends; Me, Judy and Carol in front of the Campanile
on campus of SDSU
From our hometown, Mark and I travelled to Brookings, SD where we reunited with two of my dear college friends, Carol Nielsen Lovegren and Judy Schladweiler Rearick. Mark and I had visited Judy about 16 years ago but I hadn't seen Carol for 44 or 45 years!! We toured the campus of South Dakota State University and reminisced about what we could still remember. There were major memory gaps for all of us.

(Front) Craig & Judy Rearick (Back) Russ & Carol
Lovegren, Mark and me
We get so busy when we are young and building our lives and distance makes reunions more difficult. When that happens, getting together at this time of life means alot.

And finally a special shout out to my sister-in-law, Marilyn, who is recovering from triple bypass heart surgery. We love you and are so happy you are on the road to recovery.

Mark and Marilyn a couple days before surgery
Grandma Carolyn making granddaughter, Ava,
smile while great aunt, Marilyn, and great uncle,
Mark, look on
It has been a great summer so far. I hope you are enjoying yours.

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