Steve Eighinger

Those were the days, my friend

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 16, 2017 9:00 am

What was inside the invitation was not necessarily a surprise. Simple math told me I should be expecting it at some point this year.

But when I saw the number in black and white, my life started flashing before me.

I had received an invitation to my 45th high school reunion.

Forty-five. Four. Five.

Where had all of those years gone? Sure, the pictures on the living room wall provided a clue. Kids and grandkids made it easy to account for a lot of the time, but had it really been 45 years since I graduated from Madison High School in Mansfield, Ohio?

Forty-five. Four. Five.

A look in the mirror gave me another hint. Where was the shock of black hair? All I saw was gray, and not very much of it.

The mirror provided another cruel reminder, too. Where was that dashing young guy of 170 pounds? Let's just say he's not quite as dashing. And those 170 pounds? The current figure is a bit north of that. Like at the North Pole.

I keep in touch with quite a few old high school buddies and buddettes, and I still think of them as the way they were. Even when looking at current Facebook pictures of old classmates and their families, my mind seems to process 1972 instead of 2017.

There are a few, though, I can no longer stay in touch with, and that's when the reality of 2017 takes hold.

My best friend through much of junior high and high school is no longer with us. Russ died of pancreatic cancer a few years ago. That one hit me hard. Russ and I would talk sports for hours on end growing up, and I'll always be grateful to him for letting me borrow a copy of Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher" in 1967.

I had always wondered what had happened to another old friend I could never find on Facebook. I discovered a few months ago that Karen had passed away several years earlier after the onset of early Alzheimer's disease. That was another unexpected blow.

I'm probably not going to make the 600-mile trek to the class reunion. A big part of me wants to remember things the way they were. I'm not sure if that's right or wrong, good or bad, but I think I'm more comfortable with the memories than I would be with the echoes.

There are times when I think back on those high school years and wonder if I had them to do all over again if I would change anything. Of course I would have studied a little harder, but as far as the friendships made, activities taken part in and how those years prepared me for the rest of my life, I don't think I would alter a thing.

And there's something peaceful about that. I'm not sure what, but when I look back at those years, I always smile.

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.

I still can't believe it has been 45 years.

Forty-five. Four. Five.

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