WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

The joys and puzzles of reunions

It was a very ordinary Tuesday. It had been raining all day and at four o’clock it seemed as if it was nearly dark.
I had done a long workout in the gym and a little bit of excellent coffee seemed called for.

Kevin_Neal_Apr08.jpg On this forgettable midwinter’s day I thought I would sneak down to the coffee shop and I would be the only one there. Every one else would have more sense.

Not so. The shop was overflowing and one group was two young mothers with a crowd of children.
I recognised one of the children from our school and a parent invited me to join them.

At first I thought it was a birthday but I was informed that it was a kindergarten farewell. The young lady, with the cardboard golden crown, was off to school.

She’d had her last day at kindy and was here to celebrate. How many more of these sorts of occasions will there be as the child grows up, I thought.

The thought stayed in my mind because a few weeks before I had been at a college jubilee. Our school was 50 years old and 600 people got together for the event.

I received part of my secondary education at Francis Douglas College, New Plymouth, in the 1960s and taught there for more than 20 years in the 1970s and ’80s.

I thought of the mini-reunions that had taken place everywhere I looked. There were some quite recent old boys right through to men in their 60s. They had gained so much from their peers and it was great renewing their acquaintance—some hadn’t seen each other since they left school all those years ago.

It was a double blessing for me. There was the joy of catching up with the students I went to school with and then there were the hundreds I had taught.

The disadvantages of the stroke kicked in but the men seemed to know what that meant and turned a blind eye. I couldn’t really keep a conversation going on my side but the others helped out. Neither could I remember names but that didn’t seem to matter.

That girl, all of five years of age, will go to many ‘dos’ like that one. She’ll leave primary school, intermediate and secondary school.

I imagine she’ll go to uni or something similar.
She’ll probably get engaged and marry and then she’ll raise her own children.

In the meantime there will be school reunions to go to that will remind her of the friends she has now and the ones she hasn’t even met yet.