Conscious Aging: The 50th Reunion Lists

As my 50th college reunion approaches in June, lists are beginning to go out. There’s a list of those planning to attend, a list of “maybe’s”, a list of clear “no’s”. There’s a list of those who have donated to the class gift. There’s a list of decease class members, two of whom died while we were still in college. Mary was killed in a car-train collision at the small Lackawanna station right outside campus. Kathy died from a recurrence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My College of St. Elizabeth class was tiny — 126 students, all female. I knew both girls of course, although Kathy and I were the closer friends.

I suppose the deceased list reminds me most of life’s unfairness. Kathy and Mary certainly drew the short end of the stick, neither living to be 20, and here are the rest of us at 71 or 72 getting ready to celebrate long lives, albeit ones led with varying degrees of happiness. There’s something to be said for just getting the time, and the chance to make of all those years whatever any of us did.

A 50th reunion feels like a bookend of sorts on those college years. About 40 of us are coming; I doubt many will return to campus in 5 years. More and more are moving out of New Jersey. Travel will be harder at 77 than it is at 72. I’m not sure the interest will be there.  A 55th reunion, for some reason, lacks the cachet of a 50th and feels in some way redundant.

I’ve stayed in touch with a few friends from college, mostly by email. That will continue, with or without the physical presence that a college reunion can bring. I have no idea what will be a priority for me in my 77th year, or what I’ll be able to do to express those priorities.

Best take full advantage of this jaunt back to Convent Station.

14 thoughts on “Conscious Aging: The 50th Reunion Lists

  1. Wow! That’s amazing. I don’t even want to go to my high school reunion. I skipped it last year. Not sure how I will feel about my college reunion in 5 years. Maybe that one will be more enticing. We’ll see!

    What did you study in college?

  2. I am almost 77 and this fall will be my 55th reunion. I plan to go, mainly to see a few friends I have kept in touch with and to see relatives who live in that same Indiana college town. Since the big 50th is behind us, maybe this will be a more calm and quiet reunion. We have lost quite a few classmates in the past five years, and my Aunt Esther – who I usually stayed with – is now gone. It will be a different reunion.

  3. for Alexis: I majored in philosophy, with a minor in English. Not the most practical field of study, but it did hone my critical thinking ability and I always assume you can learn whatever content you need. That has proved true in my life. I went to my 50th high school reunion, the first time I attended one, and have no desire to go back. My college was so small that I think I bonded with people at a different level, and I’ve generally gone back every five years.

  4. for Phyllis: Glad to hear you’re going. I imagine the pace of losing classmates does accelerate, which makes the gathering multi-layered.

  5. Philosophy is definitely an interesting field of study, but like you said, not always practical. I’m fascinated by existentialism philosophy and I suppose I identify as an existentialist.

    What field did you work in considering the study area?

  6. for Alexis: Before going in the Peace Corps in 1967, I thought I would become an academic philosopher. The immediacy of life in the village made an academic career seem dry and uninteresting. When I returned, I taught kids with learning disabilities, got a doctorate in education, and then went into business with my late husband building a boutique financial planning firm.

  7. That sounds like an amazing entrepreneurial adventure. I still want to go into academia, but as you said, life outside of a classroom is so much more interesting. I’m saving my professor years for 40 and over.

  8. for Alexis: It’s pretty hard to get a tenured gig now anyhow, and yes, age discrimination kicks in pretty early.

  9. Wow. Well I suppose there goes my hopes and dreams. I’m a stubborn misses though, so I’ll give it a go anyway. There’s always tutoring when professorship doesn’t work out.

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