My high school friend, Sara Bly, worked like crazy to compile a DVD of video and PowerPoint, complete with music and comprised of old photos, scans of newspaper articles and other memorabilia. I helped by nagging her about it and making copies of her final product. It’s truly a masterpiece and I encourage you to start saving items now, no matter what your age, so your high school class can do something similar. (Even if right now you don’t think you care.)
As I looked over the photos, I realized, more than ever before, how many classmates have passed away. Their stories stopped right after high school or years later. Some were killed in Viet Nam, some died in car accidents, many fought cancer bravely until the end, heart failure took some and several ended their own lives.
The girl on the left is Tina Springgate, a funny and very intelligent girl and woman, who died from cancer shortly after our 30th reunion. She and I were on the Debate Team and she also was on the staff of the school paper,The Arklight. The last time I saw Tina she told me, “You’ll get to be the only ‘Tina’ before long.”
The girl on the right is Leslie Neal, my co-Feature Editor on the paper. We also co-wrote a column called, “Gleanings from the Grapevine”, in which we made what we thought were hysterically witty comments about various things around school, especially about the teachers. Leslie committed suicide when she was in her early twenties and I’ve never known why. I found out later that she was living in Denver at the time and I’ve wondered if I could have said or done something to make a difference–probably not, but I would have liked to try.
I’m in the middle, smiling with the other two–none of us having any idea what life would hold or how soon it would be over for two of us three.
I’ve included the photo of Tina Springgate, Leslie and me, not to be sad or morose about it, but to say that photos are still the best way to capture our memories. Even a written journal benefits from a photo or two of the author and others. However, take them in a way that gives people a chance to look their best and to smile for the camera, rather than the candid, often embarrassing photos you might take with your phone/camera when no one is prepared. A few candid shots are OK, but most women want to be ready to be photographed and both men and women look better when they are sitting or standing still, have their mouths closed and are looking moderately happy.
Tell people a day ahead of time that the next day is photo day for those who agree. Don’t force someone to get their picture taken, just let them see that you’re not making a huge production out of it. If your supervisor or manager is available, have a photo-op so people can get pictures taken with him or her. Some people will decline, but almost everyone who gets his or her photo taken with the boss, will be glad about it later.
In the 1970’s, Paul Anka sang the Nichols/Lane song that became a Kodak standard, “The Times of Your Life”. It’s easy for us to think of saving photos of family members and close friends, when we consider how quickly time passes. Think also of those you work with or meet with at work. Even the ones who irritate you, frustrate you or make you dislike them strongly, will one day–maybe sooner than you think–bring back worthwhile memories of that time of your life.