Summer Reunion

June 15, 2011

Aunt Bernice at age 25

Our 40th high school reunion is this Saturday–class of ’71, the last graduating class from Chestertown High School. A county-wide consolidated high school would replace the 3 smaller, geographically-spaced schools that next year, but being members of that particular class gave us eternal bragging rights about this claim to fame, which we will celebrate shamelessly in just a few days.

It was just the other day that one of our class members heard from our vice principal, Mr. Kiefer, or “Scoop,” as some called him. (I didn’t call him that, but only because this particular nickname escaped my ears. I don’t remember having much contact with the vice principal, except to say hello in the hallways, or to know that he was the dad of one of our classmates, with whom I was good friends. Plus she was Mrs. Gibbs and I was Emily in Our Town, and theatre creates bonds with all those who share in it together. So I knew who he was.) So when Barbara, our classmate, posted his message on facebook and encouraged us to “drop him a line,” I did. It seemed very important to me not only to say “thank you” to him, but to write for other reasons as well….

“…It’s so good to hear from people who knew us when we were young. When my Aunt Bernice died (she was my mother’s sister) at age 93 almost 3 years ago, she was the last one in that generation who knew me when I was a little girl. And I hadn’t been prepared for that particular end-of-an-era sadness that accompanied her death, but that’s how it hit me. There was a finality that came with her dying, as though an entire section of my life had died.

Each of my aunts was special to me, but my Aunt Bernice was the one who had been with us in our home from the time I was born, since she visited every other weekend without fail. We even had “Aunt Bernice’s room” in our tiny house; it was not a “spare room;” it was her room, and was always referred to by that name. She carried me in her arms to my first formal Sunday School class when I moved up from the nursery to the class that had a table with little chairs. She watched Bobbi and me lick the paddles after we all made homemade ice cream outside on the sidewalk in front of our house. She was sitting in the living room with us when we opened our presents on Christmas morning. She had always been there. So when she died, that was the end of that whole picture–until the plans for our 40 year high school reunion began. I hadn’t anticipated the thrill that would accompany the re-connections with those who had known me when I was a teenager, but it was there…almost like I had my parents and my aunts back, to a time that was long ago, but was also now. I wouldn’t have to explain things; these peole had shared them with me, so they would know. I have done very little work for this reunion, but just being with these classmates has been a joy….”

Saturday can’t come soon enough.



  1. Bobbi says:

    I always enjoy hearing more about when we were little.It brings back memories,happy and then sad.I have tears in my eyes thinking .Thanks for being my understanding sweet sister !! Again have a great time,I want to hear all about it,your reunion and who you got to see !!!

  2. Bobbi says:

    I felt the same way about loosing Aunt Bernice.We had no one else older to talk with and take care of and talk about memories.The time is 9:40 on Wed.night.

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