As I grow older I am discovering something about myself. I do not know if it is unique to me, or to my circumstances, but I did noticed a recent indication that this is something that it may not be so unique just to me.
I attended a relatively small Catholic Elementary / Junior High school from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Nativity of Mary in Bloomington, Minnesota (although I switched from St. Kevin’s to Nativity in 3rd grade). After 8thgrade, I attended the Academy of the Holy Angles in Richfield, Minnesota (a Catholic High School also considered small compared to the public school alternatives) along with a large number of the kids I grew up at Nativity with.
As with most kids, we all had our “groups” that we spent most of our time with, and groups we did not socialize with as much. As we progressed on to high school some of us went in different directions (attending different High Schools), but those that continued on together adjusted, expanded, and morphed our relationships with each other.
I fell into what I would consider the “leftover group”. We did not fall into any of the typical categories (athletic, artistic, popular, etc) and so by default we bonded into our own makeshift “hobo-group”. I found that even through High School these groups did not intermingle much but overall we got along pretty well.
As the saying goes… Time and tide wait for no man. We all graduated, and moved on – college, careers, family, jail, whatever. Friendships and relationships again adjusted, expanded (or shrank), and morphed into something different.
Career and family followed college for me. I am now a fully vested family man (ahem… “Father of Five”). My time is spent working, and maintaining my home and family. Somewhere around ten years ago or so I came to the realization that that through this life as a father of five, I had lost contact with all but a few of the friends I have made through the years. Admittedly, it was a little depressing to ponder, but it was my life. I have since learned to accept it, and adjust. Friendships are a luxury at this point – a luxury that comes at the cost of career or family.
Then along came Facebook. Suddenly, I started noticing old friends and classmates that I had not spoken to for years – some even decades – popping up here and there. Facebook has made searching and finding old friends easy, and made connecting with those old friends even easier! Sure, there are those folks that I did not have a lot of interaction with, and that I still don’t – but it’s still nice getting a little snapshot of what life is like outside the walls of my work and family, and with old friends I would not normally hear from.
Very recently, one of those friends (from both Nativity and Holy Angels) experienced a tragedy. She unexpectedly lost a parent. This friend is one of the classmates that I was a little more closer with, and have kept in touch with from time to time throughout the years. Besides our shared scholarly tenure, we have an extended connection through church and my work (her family had a significant involvement in the Bloomington Volunteer Rescue Squad, along with having taught several police officers, firefighters and EMTs.)
This classmate shared her loss on Facebook. As I read through the sympathetic comments left for her, I noticed a large number of classmates from both Nativity and Holy Angels. It was there that I stumbled upon one comment in particular that truly caught my attention.
That was it! Wise words indeed Mike!
There have been many people in my life. Yet, as I travel backwards, I see that “pool” get smaller and smaller. From the thousands of industry, peer, and co-workers I deal with now, to the anonymity of College, to my high school class of less than 150, down to the roughly 50 kids I went to elementary and junior high with. Many whom I still have contact with.
I don’t know how many other (or if any) of my classmates from Nativity feel the same way, but from my perspective - good, bad, or otherwise, this small group of people were such a big part of so many of my formative developmental years and we shared so many experiences that even now (28 years later) that whenever I have contact with one of my old classmates, I DO feel a different sort of connection and bond with them. It DOES feel almost like a small family.
If you are one of my old Nativity classmates, I’d like to wrap this up with a special message for each and every one of you. Whether you were one of my closest friends, part of the other groups I had less contact with, or somewhere in between - I look back at my time with you and at Nativity with great fondness. Sure, growing up is not without its ups and downs, but what life experience isn’t?
So… I am sending out my most sincere “thank you” to each and every one of you for being part of that family.