Forty-Three Years of Lost Memories…Rejuvenated

buzzard[1]September 21, 2013 will be a day I shall never forget.  I apologize to all you bloggers, but this particular blog is intended for memories lost and found between childhood friends.

My friend, Pete, called me in July to let me know about a reunion that he and Gary decided to stage for all the YMCA Leaders Club members, friends who attended the Y every Friday and Saturday from 1965 to 1970, the last year when I left for the Navy. I’m including YMCA day camp friends who we haven’t seen for forty-three years of our lives along with the many who were affiliated in some way or another.

When one comes to the winter of his or her life, past memories just swarm, through my head at least, about all those I thought I would never see again before we all take that long dirt nap or scattering of our ashes, no longer being a part of such amazing times and unforgettable memories of friendships.  I am having a difficult time in writing this as tears are filling my eyes and blurring the damn print on the screen and keyboard.  My emotions are swelling up inside my brain, along with my failing heart and my somewhat broken heart.

We all shared times at the Y, since it was co-ed, by doing gymnastics, not Olympic quality, but definitely on the fun side.  Trampoline or not, we did everything to keep us active, and later going to the pool downstairs for more fun.  Some would say it wasn’t all fun, but when it came to working with the kids, teaching basics of tumbling, etc., and the infamous learn to swim campaign that went on for one week each year, it was work, but it still was fun.  I don’t know about our fellow girls workers, but I know the guys appreciated it since we got to see the girl teachers in their bathing suits.

Personally, I never thought to see that many at the reunion, and truly missed those that couldn’t or wouldn’t make the effort for the gathering of old acquaintances. It was a stroke of luck that Pete called me as I had a very trying year with my health since January of this year.  And for those of you who didn’t know, the first four months were devastating as I had actually died twice in the ER.  It was then I realized that I may never experience what transpired on Saturday the 21st.

A few years prior I had developed CHF (Congestive Heart Failure).  I never had a heart attack, it just decided to stop working at capacity and it only pumps 20% of normality.  It was a horrible feeling knowing that at one time when we all were together at the Y, I ran a lot and often I’d jog 10 miles a day, but mostly 3 miles from home to the Y.

My ER experience was due to my CO2 levels reaching near 100% and my lungs failed due to that excess.  My implanted defibrillator helped as I was told and by the end of the next two months, I was home from therapy, barely walking and on 24 hours of sucking down oxygen. This past month, I am only on oxygen at night while asleep for my apnea.  I lost 76 pounds since I left the hospital in April.  It’s a day by day effort. There is more to that story, but I won’t bore you with it, so moving on…

I realized for some time now, that there lies a fine line between depression and nostalgia.  When that line stops or continues, I can’t tell you.  I suppose it’s how you handle the memories of days long past that determines the results on how the two opposing situations are dealt with in each of our lives. Hell, I take antidepressant pills twice a day…..how’s that for dealing with it? But I have to admit, I still get teary eyed thinking about all of you people.  What the hell, just because I’m old doesn’t mean I don’t care about all of you.

Admittedly, I never thought that I would have been of any importance when I got to the Y camp on Saturday. I was literally in awe of the people that remember me (at least the good times) all except the Adams twins…just joking girls.

There were many stories that we all shared, and yes many were hilarious, and some were embarrassing, but at our ages, I know we can’t be offended as that was so long ago.  It was just so terrific that the stories were remembered.  I never forgot most if not all of them.  I’m hoping that as time goes on, I will share with all of you as many stories as I can.

I was in awe that no one got trashed…..  I suppose that at our age, we are more sensible or maybe just too stupid to realize that we could get a little drunk.  But it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime, and believe me, I have experienced a lot.

When Pete contacted me, he sent me a list of people he had trouble finding.  He thought I might have the ability to track down some of you people.  I still do a lot of research for my writing.  I just cannot fathom thinking back in high school, I got so many D’s and F’s in English and I ended up being published in a magazine with my own column and other writings over the years, including this blog, but I did my best.

You girls were the hardest to find since you all changed your last names (sometimes twice or thrice….just kidding).  And so it began…the search for the oblivious ghosts of years past (and it isn’t even Christmas yet).

After Pete gave up his search, I remained the bloodhound. I often think I feel like one, but persevering and two days before the reunion, I found the last one, Betsy M., my long lost flickering strobe light dance partner at the Y’s occasional weekend dances.

At the reunion, I never thought that it was going to be so ecstatically rewarding.  I never thought of myself as anyone special, I thought I was just a nerdy kid (I still carry a pocket protector, loaded with stuff) who wanted to help out, have some fun, and prayed that sometime in those years I would have the Kahunas to ask some of you girls out.  But the words, scared s***less only comes to mind.  I continued to be just me.  But all of you made my day…perhaps my life, now knowing how many of you thought of me (and once again, except the Adams twins who couldn’t remember me, but came around after a couple of stories). The closeness of all of you will be something I will cherish always.

I realize this blog is a tad lengthy, so please bear with me a little while longer.  This is important for me to vent it out of my system.  My life has been somewhat difficult for me as I truly am a sensitive person, but I never showed it.  I traveled from Navy base to Navy base, job to job, city to city.  I always had to leave certain friends behind, knowing that the possibility of never seeing some of them ever again before I leave this earth (I know how you feel Pete).  Sometimes I wish I had a time machine and be at the Y to do it over again.

To this day, as I muse about all of you who had dated, had crushes, but most of all, and no matter what happened back then, we all are and will still remain…friends.  The old YMCA no longer stands and a new one stands erect.  I have never entered its open doors knowing that the ambiance of all of you and the charisma of the old place no longer exists.

I now realize that we were a part of a generation that was on the cusp of a changing society.  In those short years, we lived in this unique bubble of intense emotional connection to each other without realizing it until now (sorry, my eyes just blurred again).  We all evolved into what we all hoped to be and hoped to accomplish, whether it did or did not endure the plans exactly as we planned it.  But without any regrets, except for the fact this special occasion did not occur earlier in my timeline, I say to you all, I thank you for making my life complete now and before.  To those wonderful teenage years that inspired us to be the best from all our learning experiences. My only hope is to have all of you keep in touch and perhaps increase the attendance for another in a couple of years.  May you all live long and prosper and I thank you for being a part of my life…from the bottom of my heart….Emery

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