July 2006 Linn County Leader Column – “Thanks For The Memories”

Twenty-five years.

That’s how long it had been since each member of the Brookfield High School Class of 1981 had confidently strode across the stage, shook hands with Principal Ray Hazelrigg, and received our neatly-bound diplomas. As we moved our tassels to the other side of our caps, the decades-old rite of passage into adulthood was complete—this was a special time for many of our senior class (myself included) and it was with some trepidation that we faced an uncertain future.

We left behind family, friends, good ol’ BHS, weekends dragging Main Street, dates at the Lin-Vu Drive-In Theatre, disco dances at the Cedar Cinema, foolish teenage parties, and many other things near and dear to our hearts as we ventured forth; our minds set on conquering lofty goals, totally determined to make this world a better place though our rebellious and stubborn natures.

Some of us (myself included) took detours along the way that lasted months, if not years; drifting aimlessly in the currents of life’s vast ocean with no direction, and no Captain to guide our way. Others in our class achieved worldly success but lacked true peace in their lives—you could see it in their eyes this past Saturday. A furtive glance here; a wishful look there. And then there was one member of our class, Mike Lewis, who was taken from us too soon after graduation.

Yet here we were, all these years later, gathering to reminisce, look at our silly senior pictures in yearbooks, and laugh. There were numerous life stories to tell, trivia questions to answer, disco music to dance to, and, of course, food to eat.

And, it was a blessing to be able to stand in front of my classmates and give thanks for our meals; both at the family picnic we had earlier in the day, and for the dinner that evening. And during both times, God gently reminded me to be sure and give thanks for all of our blessings—the ones that we have today, and even the ones from twenty-five years ago, when a lot of us didn’t know any better, and were young and foolish and living on the edge. Even back then, God was looking out for us, and taking care of us, and loving us.

So it seems as if my life, along with many others Jeannie and I saw that day, has finally come full circle. As the Class of 81 met a quarter century later, the physical parts of us had changed (receding hairlines for the guys, hair coloring for the women; crows feet around all of our eyes; and for most of the guys, our chests had become our stomachs!) but the crazy, witty, and outspoken group that liked to see how far we could push our Journalism instructor, James Hart, (and MANY other teachers) was still there.

Older, perhaps; and much wiser…but still there.

You know, I’m so thankful that the Lord allowed me this opportunity to witness to my friends. Through the past 25 years, there were many circumstances that arose that prevented me from attending any of our reunions. Most of the time, it was my selfishness and pride that stood in the way; drugs and booze too oftentimes place an invisible wall between the person using them and reality, and that wall can only come down whenever we can totally give our lives to the Lord and allow Him to change us. No man, woman, or anything on this earth can do that. Only God can.

By the way, our 25th reunion was a great success! Fifty-one of our class showed up to celebrate; the most that have ever attended. We’re already making plans and looking forward to our 30th; and I’m making sure that I don’t fall out of touch with anyone again. (Well, I really can’t…they voted that I take charge of our next one!)

The BHS Class of 1981 reunion was a very joyous occasion for me, for many reasons. The biggest one is that I finally have come to the realization that I was home.

Everything in my life has a place now: the Lord is, and always will be, first; secondly, I have my beautiful wife Jeannie by my side to share our lives together and minister to others; thirdly, I have such wonderful kids and they are our joy, and finally, I’ve been able to reconcile with those I’ve hurt in my past.

To my friends from that wild and wooly class of ‘81: thanks for the memories.

See you in five years!

Richard can be reached via e-mail at sliceofhome@sbcglobal.net or leave a comment on his online blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com. His column appears monthly in the Linn County Leader.

Key words: Linn County Leader, Slice of Home column, Brookfield High School Class of 1981, high school graduation, Lin-Vu Drive-In, Cedar Cinema, disco dances, dragging Main Street, God, Jesus, drug and alcohol abuse, addiction, 25th reunion. 

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