Looking Back and Moving Forward
The new year brings us a new beginning with hope for a brighter future.
But at this time of year I can't help but remember those I have cared for who have gone on ahead. I am sure all of us have such emotions, though we try to push them aside by staying busy and thinking about issues of the day.
Those who have been a part of our lives will always be with us, and they would want us to live our lives in the present, not in the past. They would want us to go forward, not back.
Speaking of going back, a few days ago, I was rummaging around in the garage, and I noticed my high school annuals on a shelf. I have saved all of mine, and I made the mistake of taking one down and opening it up.
You know what happens when you begin to look at an old photograph album or open a drawer full of pictures made years ago. Time stops and before you know it, hours have gone by.
At our house, we keep promising we will organize all the pictures into albums and discard all those that are either no good or of people we no longer recognize.
But we don't. We just can't bring ourselves to dispose of things that are part of our past.
Well before I knew it, I was back in Central High School, class of 1947. Several years ago, alumni of the school, unhappy with the way the facade had fallen into disrepair, contributed enough money to restore it to its original appearance so today it looks the same as when I graduated. It's too bad those of us who attended classes there can't be restored too.
Like the song James Taylor sings about going back to Carolina, in my mind when I look at those annuals, I'm back at Central High in l947.
As I turned the pages and looked at fresh smiling faces with the dreams of the future in their eyes, I thought about how far we have come down life's way.
Some of my classmates have been hugely successful in life and have excelled as judges, ministers, teachers, doctors and on and on. Others have fallen short, although I don't know of any who were imprisoned for crimes or committed any of the heinous things we see on television all the time these days.
There were over 400 students in my class. There aren't many of us left. Those of us who live within driving distance of Charlotte still get together about once a month to have lunch and talk about the days of '47 and how much things have changed.
That's a lot to talk about, and the lunches last awhile.
The strange thing is that our memories of how we looked and acted back then carry into the present, and all of us go away happier than when we arrived.
At first, reunions are a little depressing, but after a few minutes, the wrinkles fade away and we're back in high school, wearing saddle oxfords and draped pants or pleated skirts and angora socks,
I finally closed my annual and put it back on the shelf along with memories of the past. Take my word for it, it'll be best if you don't take a walk down memory lane with an old high school annual. And whatever you do, don't open a drawer filled with pictures of friends and family.
Think the here and now, and try to stay away from the past. It's better left there.
My gosh! Where did the time go? I've got to take Pat's car to the gas station and top off the tank. It's down to half full, and she doesn't like it to get that low.
Robey Howard is a local writer.
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