Is there an event in an over-60 person’s life more cliché than the high school reunion?
If the event isn’t cliché, the reactions to it certainly are. “I went to my high school reunion and a bunch of old people showed up” is probably the most repeated.
But, as with most clichés, it seems that one is a gross generalization. I just went to my 45th high school reunion in central Iowa and a bunch of young people showed up.
Seriously. Maybe our class motto was prescient: “Keep on truckin’.” If the thirty-some folks who showed up (out of our class of just over ninety) are any indication, we’re still truckin’ ‘n’ ‘shuckin’ ‘n’ jivin’. And doing a lot of other adventurous and intrepid things. Starting new businesses, learning a new sport, traveling to places beyond where the grandkids live.
No one looked old, even though we’re all well over 60. No one looked unhealthy, although we’ve all had our share of bouts with cancer and other plagues. No one looked unhappy, although we’ve all suffered the loss of close ones — parents, siblings, children, spouses in some manner.
Perhaps that’s what people do when they come to class reunions: put on their best face, force a skip in their step, and tell the good stories of their lives, leaving out the bad. Maybe it was a ruse.
Life is Better for Us
That’s part of it, I’m sure. But I think not all of it. Instead, I think we are living healthier, happier lives than our parents did. For many of us, an education beyond high school was within reach and accomplished, when it wasn’t possible for our parents. We built careers on passion and commitment because we expected to. We built families and homes from love and humor, not just out of grit and necessity.
And, I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that sixty is the new forty. At the reunion, it really felt like it. Perhaps my current residence, where the cliché is “you are always young and beautiful in Palm Springs,” has something to do with it. Among the friends I hang out with here, a sixty-year-old is never old.
At the reunion, I handed out several copies of my books about a small town in Iowa: Gracie’s Revolution and Jackie’s Campaign, and asked for my classmates to post reviews on Amazon. I hope they do, because it matters to me what they think of them.(Hint, hint!) Even more than before, I have a great respect for them and what they’ve accomplished, and I’m glad I can share some of my work with them as well.