October 9th, 2010:


Hands of friendship

“Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold” are the words of a song I learned in Girl Scouts. I’ve remembered those words these many years, just as I’ve kept in touch with friends.

Recently, my friend Kathie asked me if I thought friends were more inclined to stick closer together when they got older, even if they weren’t close when they were younger. What prompted the observation was a reunion. As we age, reunions–high school, college, family, business–seem to multiply and mean more to us.  Kathie was referring specifically to a reunion of mostly Air Force and Army dependents who’d lived and gone to school together in Tripoli, Libya, in the 1950s and 1960s.

As these once lively “kids” matured, they realized more and more what an unusual experience they’d shared in that exotic place so many years before. Their memories were unique and needed to be shared, especially with others who’d lived those  same experiences. They could all laugh and shake their heads at the oddities of living overseas in North Africa, of all places, and the times they’d enjoyed that brought them together. It’s probably been 20 years since they started holding these reunions. How many people do we know who’ve lived in the Middle East as youngsters?

The unusual thing was that many of them hadn’t known each other well or at all back then since the group was composed of a variety of class years, but the commonality of experience produced unexpected bonds. Even sight unseen, these now mature folks, including me, could forge friendships through Email, letters and phone calls. When they saw each other at reunions, it was even more special. Most were not as svelte as they once were; silver hair was more the norm and sometimes no hair. Not everyone was as rambunctious, but their spirits were still alive and raring to go. Deep inside there was a connection between them all.

Perhaps as we age, we forget about the superficial likes and dislikes of our younger years. Whether we have the same talents or make the same money, live in the same kind of houses, or like the same things doesn’t mean as much. We can see our common humanness and it’s enough that we shared a special time and place. Despite differing religions, philosophies, and lifestyles, aren’t we all one, as human beings?

The picture below is a sampling of the alumni attending the September reunion. We couldn’t all make it but I believe we were there in spirit.

Wheelus Air Force Base High School Alumni - Always young at heart.

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