Yesterday was a really crazy, very mixed up, get very little accomplished day for me.
For openers, I'm struggling with filling out forms to get an organization affiliated with our church to, hopefully, back us with extra funds for the Cure Autism Now Organization's walk/race fund raiser here in State College next Saturday. I've e-mailed I think every friend and relative, even casual acquaintance I can think of whose address is somehow magically listed in my e-mail address book. My kids- each one has been trying to "talk up" the walk, donations, etc., for our team. We're not doing poorly with it but because this event really means so much to me, because the cause hits home directly with my little princess, Miss Maya, I want it to be that our team has a good showing.
Now, I know we can't begin to compete against the fraternity and sorority teams that are involved in this event, but still I think we can do well but can also always do better. And, every little bit we gather up helps is my belief here.
I know we are very fortunate with Miss Maya as she is picking up so much, just amazes us some days to see how far she has come. Then, out of the blue, things turn on a dime with her and she will suddenly go into an absolute meltdown that may last a matter of mere minutes or in some instances, may go on and on and ON till you want, as daughter Mandy says, that advertisement of years back to be available right now for you - "Calgon, take me away!" It is at times extremely frustrating to try to cope with some of her actions, moods, you name it.
But I still wouldn't trade her for the world! And I'm sure anyone reading this -whether you have an autistic child, or one who is facing a life-threatening illness, or so, so many other challenges life often bestows on the littlest ones that seems so unfair to them, to parents/grandparents, family, friends alike at times, you know what I mean there, don't you now?
But that is just one item on my "challenging" list yesterday.
The other just so happens to be my 45th high school class reunion - coming up now shortly on June 2nd. I know, I've mentioned this before but yesterday, something came up that really threw me for a big loop.
I'm not the one planning this event - my friend, neighbor, former classmate, former class president too she was, is in charge of that. I'm just here to help here once in a blue moon with piddling little things - like trying to see if I can locate maybe a long-lost classmate, or communicate with some class members I keep in contact with fairly regularly who live far, far away from here. And this year, I'm supposed to be coming up with some little bit of entertainment, of sorts. No, I'm not a stand-up comic - far from it! But, I'm just trying to figure out some little thing we can do that will serve to entertain the troops and keep us still wanting to come back together in, hopefully, another five years.
So yesterday, I got an e-mail from Kate - the coordinator of this event. In it, she told me which classmates had responded that they will definitely BE THERE and right now, it appears we have 16 classmates coming and 8 are bringing a guest. That's good - gives us a total head count now of 24 and possibly 25 if Nancy, out in Colorado comes home and convinces her husband to come with her, it will then give us the 25 needed for our reservation so we won't have to pay extra for a room fee. Yippy!
Then I read further in Kate's note as to a couple kids who responded that they WON'T be coming this year and that is something that is always disappointing to see who can't come.
But this year, one name stood out as someone not planning to attend and when I read that name, I said out loud, talking to the computer screen of course, OH NO, This can't be! This is a real BUMMER! Please, say it isn't so!!! Joe's gotta come cause it just won't be right within our class reunion world without him there!
Shortly after reading Kate's note, I was composing a response to her when my daughter (the birthday girl) called and I told her this piece of news. To my surprise, really, she said "OH my Mom, that's terrible! He has to go or you'll have no fun at all without him there!" Wow, even my kid knows him, and knows how much I enjoy being around both him and his wife. I almost always sit at the same table with him and two other guys from our class and their spouses. Not that I don't associate with the rest of my classmates but those three guys, their wives - well, I just am totally at ease around them.
My daughter told me then too "Mom, you have to call him. If you call and talk to him, I betcha you can talk him into coming after all. You know, you HAVE to do that!" And I thought and thought about that idea and finally decided ok, I'd take a chance and do just that.
I made the call -his wife answered. We exchanged opening pleasantries, not having talked to the other for quite a long time although they only live maybe 5 miles or so from my home.
I asked her if it was true that he wasn't going to attend - that they weren't coming and she said yes, he had decided he wasn't going to go.
Now, I have my own theory as to why Joe had made this decision. You see for our 30th and 35th reunions, he had graciously invited our class to their home - a beautiful area out in the country here, not anything grand, pretentious, just a pretty home, fixed up very nicely, with lots and lots of open space around, plenty of room to park, and also, to party!
A businessman in the community, Joe had also opened up our reunion to invite kids from classes three years above our and three years below ours plus he had included kids who had attended with us but for one reason or another, hadn't finished school with us. His theory - and I happen to concur with him on this - they were all still our "classmates." Then too, he invited the people who worked for him in his construction company, and from the bar he owned at that time too. Keep in mind, many of his employees had attended school with us too, so it wasn't that they were unknown entities exactly. All this made for a bigger event than we would have had if we only invited those who actually graduated and their spouse or guest. Because of the way he did this, he was also of course, able to use it as a tax write-off too but the base cost to his classmates was minimal compared to what others were shelling out to go to their particular class reunions at the time. He also had a DJ present, several kegs of beer and an open bar too - no "cash and carry" stuff with the drinks - it all came with the price of our acceptance to attend - $10 a head! His wife's niece and a friend had begun a catering venture at the time and they catered these reunions - one being an ox roast, the other a pig roast - and the food was excellent! No complaints at all from the peanut gallery on that.
For my part, I loved it too because it was casual - meaning I didn't have to go on a search and destroy mission for some special dressy outfit that I would only ever wear most likely that one time and which, because I have expanded more than my mind over the years since graduation, regardless of what dress style I found, it would still make me look and feel like was was an over-stuffed sausage! Now, jeans, or even slightly dressier slacks and a loose top -hey, I figured it would hide a few of the multitude of caloric sins I had obviously committed over those years between high school and the reunions.
Well, at our 35th reunion, some of the girls were kind of grumping that they would prefer our next reunion to be one held at some nice, relatively upscale restaurant - a place where they could visit, be wined and dine, then even dance to a band of some type too. Some were even kind of quietly growling too about there being so many people at these gatherings who weren't even part of "OUR CLASS!" Well, that part didn't bother me in the least cause I looked at it as a chance to see lots of other kids I wouldn't have a chance to see and talk to any other way. Actually, I loved that aspect of those reunions too!
But anyway, a vote was taken and the ones in favor of a change of place, of participants, etc., won out.
Now I'm not saying I know my old classmate Joe like a book or anything like that but I KNEW how much he had put his heart and soul into these two events and how much he wanted to provide the best time possible for his classmates -along with yes, a lot of other friends too. And hearing him speak up there about changing the place, etc., I could see by the look on his face the disappointment there that he was actually struggling very hard to hide. But I knew then and have seen it in his eyes when we've talked on occasion since then, the hurt, that he felt he'd been slapped in the face for all his hard work, his efforts, his caring for his class. But he's also one very macho individual so if you were to talk to him about this, he would respond in his gruffest voice and try to put on the mask that heck, this didn't bother him at all. And, especially those who maybe only saw him once every fifth year at our reunions, they would believe he meant that too.
Talking with his wife, she pretty much verified my thoughts were on target there. And, because of things that happened at our last reunion, it solidified his feelings into not wanting to be a part of this scene.
Now, his wife is going to talk to him, tell him I called and that I want him to return my call. If/when he does that, I plan to open with the fact even my daughter knows that it's JOE who really makes our reunions flow, come together. As soon as you hear him laugh - and he does like a good laugh and a long one - and his laugh booms and echos and makes you want to laugh too whether you know what he's found humorous or not - it's the contagion there that he brings. It relaxes everyone around him to see him flash that big smile, that laugh then gives you a nice comfortable feeling that somehow, all is in its place and right within this little corner of the world for that short period of time.
So, that's where I am now - waiting, hoping he will return my call. Hoping I can tell him what my daughter said, how I feel about him not being there and if I have to, yes I will probably beg him too!
Please Joe - Say it isn't so! Come on Buddy, you've got to go! You HAVE to be there! He's a big, big part of the cement that keeps us glued tightly together and wanting to return to see others from our class. To feel his big strong hand clasped on your shoulder and saying "HEY! How're you doing?" And know, that he really does care about everyone who shows up for these things.
Now, say a few extra prayers that somehow I can cajole him into changing his mind about this whole process. If need be, I'll try to call in some reserves too who might be able to talk to him and get him to change his mind too.
Wish us all luck there, please now, will ya?
Come on Joe - You've GOTTA GO!