Alma Mater memorial


AGMA is going to go to her 45th high school reunion in September.  Up until a couple of months ago, I had very mixed feelings about going.

I went to high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I didn’t grow up in the community my Alama Mater is located in.  My parents moved there right before my freshman year of high school.  That’s a tough time to move in a teenagers life.

Hard to believe but AGMA was so shy and introverted, it was hard for her to make friends.  It took about a year before I found my niche.

Not the cool kids.  Not the nerdy kids.  Not the honors kids. Not the band kids or the sports kids.

They were the AGMA kids.  All female because, God forbid I actually talk to a boy.  My face used to get red and I’d break out into a sweat when I talked to boys.  Seriously.  It was so embarrassing. Just better just to try to avoid them.

No wonder I never went to a high school dance where you did the date thing.  I didn’t go to one dance – not even my senior prom.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  I’m really not sure.

But I do remember going to dances at the local community center.   We just went to hang out and get out of the house.  And away from the parents.

These dances were terribly awkward affairs.  It was the late 60’s so there were a lot of black lights and glow in the dark things  and rock music and  “clumps” of teenagers littered around on bean bag chairs.  My friends and I would go and hang out for a few hours.

And not talk to boys.

We all managed to get over the boy thing.  All of us got married at least once at some point in our adult lives.

As my step-mother used to tell me,  we were a “late bloomers”.  I still haven’t figured out what that means.

I’m still in touch with my five closest friends from high school.  We live scattered about in the Midwest and the South.  Only one still lives in Pittsburgh.  They’re the only reason I’ve gone to past reunions.

Oh – I need to mention that, up until this year, we’ve only had reunions every 10 years.  We’re starting to have them every 5 years now because we’re all getting to “that age”.  I guess we’re starting to drop like fruit flies in a biology student’s genetics lab.

We have a In Memory page on our class reunion website for classmates who’ve gone over the rainbow way too soon.  I was shocked when I went into it last week and instead of having the 10 names it had listed a couple of months ago, there are now 45 names.

We had 700 and some in our graduating class.

45 names.  Even out of 700, that seems like an awful lot of names to me.  And that’s only the ones they know about.  We have a lot of MIA’s from the class who can’t be tracked down.  The list could grow.  Dismal prospect.

To be honest, for a while there, I was a bit concerned I might end up on that list sooner rather than later.

After (and I know that some of this is definitely TMI) 6 blood draws, one set of “specimen” collection tests (still a traumatic memory), an ultrasound of my pancreas and gallbladder, a colonoscopy, an MRI (with contrast), an endoscopic ultrasound and biopsy of my pancreas, and multiple pathology reports, I’m feeling much better about my odds of not being on that list for my 50th.

Instead of having the suspected pancreatic cancer, I have something called autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP).  That darned AIP can mimic pancreatic cancer.

What a little dickens.

So having AIP means my white blood cells are waging war on my pancreas.  Charming.  And my pancreas isn’t very happy about it.  Understandable.  Why can’t we all learn to get along?

But I’ll take the AIP any day over cancer.

Oh, a lovely side “benefit” of my AIP is my newly discovered ulcerative colitis.  The GI doc expects the AIP to pretty much clear up with a course of steroid treatment which is no less than miraculous.  I’m stuck with the colitis.  But I’m okay with that.  There are some amazing pharmaceuticals out there these days.

So AGMA will be glamming it up and dressing to the nines to go to her 45th reunion!  I might even put on make-up and heels.  Because, unlike 45 of my former classmates, I can go to our 45th reunion.

I’m sure there will be toasts and fond remembrances of them, and we’ll all feel sad at their premature loss.  It’s right to pause and remember them.

But then I hope the dancing and wild rumpus will start!  I’m pretty sure there aren’t going to be any black lights and glow in the dark stuff or bean bag chairs.  But, oh yeah – there will still be rock and roll!  Lots of rock and roll.  And we’ll all celebrate being able to celebrate making it to this milestone.

And this late bloomer is actually planning on talking to some boys!










28 thoughts on “Alma Mater memorial

  1. I’ll accept that ulcerative colitis is better than pancreatic cancer, but still not what you wanted. Seriously? Never talked to the boys? Well, I guess I can believe that. I didn’t talk to the boys either or the girls or the teachers or staff – not even a janitor. If in fact I don’t think I said a word during my high school years.

    Well, not until they kicked me out for not attending classes. At that point I think I said, ‘bye.’

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is what it is you know? Nobody wants a chronic condition, but again, when you’re mother dies at 47 of pancreatic cancer and you understand that there’s a genetic component to it, it really doesn’t seem all that horrible to have AIP and UC when you get told you have a mass in your pancreas. It’s all relative!

      I was soooo painfully shy it was crazy. By the time I was a senior, I was talking to more people – even some guys. My friend tried to fix me up with her boyfriend’s short friend (I’m short) but he was as shy as me so it was quite the interesting evening. That was as close as I came to dating in high school.

      The happy post script is that my first week as a freshman in college, I had a different date every night. I bloomed pretty fast!

      You got kicked out of school? Seriously?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Seriously, I was sent to the “special” school to study for the GED. Passed on the first sitting with the second highest score they’d ever seen so I just left that behind for future greatness.

        and I have a number of chronic conditions (many the same my parents had) so I get the idea of, “well it could be so much worse.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to know you don’t have cancer when it’s in your family. Sorry about the colitis, but it beats having the other hands down.

    I never really graduated with my class, I chose to be stupid instead. I did get my GED later on. As I remember the high school dances for the freshmen and sophomores, the guys mostly ignored the girls and the girls were afraid someone would ask them to dance. The only ones who did dance were in the “A” group that elite bunch, you know who I am talking about.

    Last year, my girl friend was going to take me as her +1. Think the trip up there would have been too much for me and I would have slept through it. We have lost a bunch from our class. It always bothers me when I hear who else has passed. Sigh …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks much! I’ll take the AIP and colitis any day…

      In a weird, wistful way, I kind of wish I was a bit more stupid in high school. Just a tiny bit. I was just so terrified of getting on my father’s bad side that I just blended into the background and was kind of a nothing. I guess that gave me some time to come into my own. Hence the “late blossoming”!

      And yes – I know who you’re talking about! And they will be at the reunion and I have a feeling that their Botox will be showing… 🙂


  3. You have the right attitude – go celebrate living. Life is always precious but as we get older we start to understand that truism on a very personal level. You have some complicated health problems. I hope that your health care professionals can find a way to limit the damage to your body.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much Bernadette! I think the relief of not having cancer kind of over shadowed the conditions I do have. I meet with my great GI doc in early August and we’ll make a plan of action for going forward. I remain very optimistic that things will settle down and that indeed, the damage will be very limited. I’m very, very blessed that all was caught very early on!

      Yes – life is very precious and it’s a reason to celebrate everyday! Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I fully understand the trauma of moving to a new school during high school. We moved from a very small town in Texas to Houston during my junior year in high school. It was a total culture shock. Luckily I was in the band, so that provided an immediate circle of friends. When I attended my 20 year reunion, I was in for another shock. I thought that being drum major in the band was pretty awesome, but at the reunion I was faced with the reality that the band at that school was considered the “lower class.” I was, in fact, a nobody. I never went to another reunion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ouch – that was harsh! So I wonder who they considered the “upper class”? Frankly, I always admired the band kids. And the choir kids. They always seemed really supportive of each other. I was a “nobody” as well in HS, but I go to the reunions for me to connect with old friends. I don’t give a darned out the other’s (unless they are friendly to me and then I pretend I remember them!) 🙂


  5. I didn’t realize that was the illness you feared. So glad it turned out to be something more manageable. Whew.
    I went to school about that same time period, late 60’s. I dated a bit, but my only real goal was to get out of town. I’ve been to one reunion…the 30th. Disappointing. Most of my friends had left town long ago. And many I knew and loved were on that MIA list…made perfect sense to me. 💘
    Hope you have a great time at your reunion. My husband graduated from Lower Burrell HS…north of the Allegheny. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad to hear what it was not. My dad had pancreatic cancer; I still remember our first on-line search to understand it. Sad memories.

    On a happier note, I too never went to a high school dance, nor my senior prom. I also hardly dated in college. I do know what being a late-bloomer is! I did not emerge from my shyness with anyone until my mid 20’s!

    It is something I look back on and wonder “what if”. But then again, that shyness and lack of being in any high school or college groups – not even the nerdy kids – led me to study a lot and be in the place I am now. Which I kinda like!

    Enjoy your class reunion. Value those long-term girl-friendships! Celebrate a bit…maybe you’ll all get matching tattoos. Hah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You sound a lot like me Pat! I often think “what if” as well. But I alo I wish the blooming would have held off a bit longer than it did. I feel as if I didn’t get as much academically out of my college experience as I could have and I regret that now.

      And I’m still working on the tattoo idea! I haven’t given that up. It’s just that I’m finding it difficult to commit to one permanent design. Me being wishy washy…

      So sorry about your father. 😦 My mother died before she knew what she had – it was that quick. It’s really a nasty cancer because by the time you know you have it, it’s too late. But I think they are making some advances in treating it. Emory University here in Atlanta has a Pancreatic Disease Center that is amazing…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh – you should go! It will be fun! I was such a wall flower in high school – I take each reunion as a chance to show how far I’ve evolved. Ha! And as long as my few good buddies are there – it makes it all worthwhile and extra special!

      And I’m sure there will be a post-reunion post! AGMA’s wry observations on the aging of the popular “kids”. Alway interesting to see how they try to hold back the clock – most of the time unsuccessfully!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. AGMA sorry to hear about all that health scare stuff. It is so hard to go through the waiting to get the tests and waiting for the results, not to mention the tests themselves. YEESH. It sucks. But yeah, at our age, a diagnosis that is less than the worst of our fears is sometimes the best we can hope for. Take care of yourself. Enjoy the reunion. I’m afraid I was pretty precocious with the boys at a young age and the regrets and consequences stay with you for life. I WISH I was the late blooming type.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ilona! A less than worst case scenerio diagnosis is sometimes the best news we can get!

      And we all have “shoulda coulda woulda” regrets… I’m frankly surprised that the majority of people make it out of their teens into their 20’s. The hormones are daunting. Give yourself the grace to forgive that other person who made the not so wise choices so many years ago. Peace and hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was way behind in my reading, so o just saw this.
    I’m so glad that you now know what was ailing you, and that there is a fix!

    Even more reasons to chase after men in spandex. Just keep them away from your steroids!

    Liked by 1 person

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