Last weekend was filled with a great range of emotions for me. I was able to see the joy and happiness of a group of classmates that gathered to observe many of their 60th birthdays. I witnessed the ethnic pride of Italians marking the accomplishment of Christopher Columbus discovering the new land.
I had the joy of celebrating my mother’s 88th birthday, even if she suffers from dementia. An hour after having cake with my mom and family, I had to represent her at her best friend’s viewing. Life’s emotions can be like a roller coaster and sometimes the ride never stops.
In a day and age where participating in class reunions is waning, a nucleus of friends never forgot their past by gathering, not just every five years, but every month. There’s a lot to be said by those who relish their time together, who won’t let their youth slip through their fingers only to have life just pass them by.
I saw laughter, togetherness, happiness and joy with the two dozen or so from St. John the Evangelist High School Class of 1973. I was envious of the cohesiveness that keeps the group together. Granted, the class was only 89 strong as compared to my class of nearly 325, but still, to have that closeness is commendable.
I have enjoyed my class reunions of the past. Seeing my old mates does bring me back, even if it’s only for a few hours in an evening. Let’s face it, as we age and get further from our youthful days, going back in time to reminisce can be fun and uplifting.
One sad note about class reunions as each one passes — we are reminded of how fragile life is when the loss of a classmate occurs. Maybe St. John’s Class of ’73 has the right idea. Maybe meeting as often as possible can do the soul some good. If meeting frequently makes you happy, why not?
Happiness. It is something we all try grab and to hold on tight. For many it’s fleeting and those moments are few, but if they are lucky they can live a life on top of the world.
Be honest — when was the last time you said, “This is the happiest I’ve ever been?”
As I sat with my mother in the nursing home, I tried to reach back in my mind when we were all happy as a family. It was many, many years — too far back to recall before my dad being stricken with Alzheimer’s disease when I was in my mid-20s and he in his mid-50s.
Visiting mom and singing “Happy Birthday” to her was fun, and right in the middle of singing, she said, “Wait a minute.” She had some point to make and unfortunately, most of her sentences don’t make much sense, but we all laughed and she did too. It was good to see her smile and laugh.
She read a card from my daughter and as she was reading, she was getting teary-eyed. I quickly turned my head to hide my eyes welling up. Even in her confused state as she read that card, my mother was there. It was her old, sentimental self.
As I stated last week, I had to decide whether to tell my mother that her best friend from childhood passed away. I trusted my heart and took the advice of many not to tell her. I didn’t want to spoil her birthday and in the end, if I did tell her, she may not remember.
Representing my mom at her friend’s viewing and funeral was an honor. Her friend Rose made so many people happy in her lifetime. Making others smile was her bliss and whether she started out in life with that goal, it is what she achieved.
Maybe that is the key to happiness — helping others find joy.
Quote of the week
“The secret of happiness is the determination to be happy always, rather than wait for outer circumstances to make one happy.” – J. Donald Walters, Romanian author.
Thought of the week
“A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.” – William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania.
“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” – Henri Bergson, French philosopher.
Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.