The aging of conversation

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Last weekend, six of my childhood friends journeyed to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to visit an old friend, and engage in a bit of laughter therapy.

We spent most of our time wandering down memory lane which grows longer and more crowded with each passing year.  Marganitas - Xmas 2010 001

We always wind up sitting around a table reliving old times.  This was made last year at somebody’s birthday.




The weather last weekend was picture perfect and there was a whole exciting world out there to enjoy.  There were shopping centers at every intersection, pristine beaches beckoning us to take off our shoes and stroll, and flashy casinos just waiting to feed us watered-down drinks and take our money.

Tempting as all this was, we opted to sit around the breakfast room table, eat pimiento cheese sandwiches and talk about the way we were before we got the way we are.

My little group met in a sandbox a lifetime ago under the watchful eyes of our doting mothers.  We shared dolls, clothes, boyfriends and gossip, and walked hand in hand through that perilous passage from childhood to adult.

Then we lost touch as husbands, careers and children got in the way.

Suddenly, about 10 years ago, we began to reestablish our friendship. We’d get together a couple of times a year and found it enormously refreshing and cathartic.

mayberry's finest, austin 076 Once, we met on a house boat in Austin, Texas, (Lota above is enjoying the ride) and another time on the ski slopes of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  We even spent two nights with a classmate who lives in the Chancellor’s home at the University of Alabama. We danced to Chubby Checker, made a royal mess, and figure we won’t be invited back until we are too old to kick our heels up quite so high.

Like riding a bike, it’s easy to slip back into the silliness of our youth, and do things we would never think of doing back home where folks think we are mature, responsible citizens. (Okay, some of them are considered responsible – I’m not one of them.)

Because our brain cells have declined with each passing decade, it requires that each of us dig deep down and dredge up our personal memories.  We come away with a pretty good  composite of our  history together and it gets funnier with each passing year.

Somewhere around 9 p.m. on Friday evening, we had exhausted our teen years, our early adulthood, and the Middles Ages. Finally we got around to the current state of affairs which we thought was pretty dismal until we discovered that aging is a team sport, and our team just got its second wind.

One moment we were talking about who we dated in high school, then the conversation took an ominous twist into the land of blood pressure medication, orthopedic shoes, and wrinkle cream. We pondered whether Medicare would still be around when we get to the ripe old age of 65. I wish I could say we have a long way to go, but I’d be lying.

It suddenly dawned on me that our topics of conversation have aged right along with our bodies.

*During our elementary years we didn’t talk much.  We played hide and go seek, hop scotch and 45s on the Hi-Fi;

*By high school and college, we were focused on homework, clothes and boys, not necessarily in that order;

*In our 20s, we were busy getting married and having children.  Conversation revolved around baby formula, diapers and stupid husband tricks.

*In our 30s and 40s, we saw each other only during our class reunions.  We bragged about our children, our career successes and pretended we had perfect lives and devoted husbands.

*By our 50s, we were bragging about our grandchildren, and a few brave souls were working on their second or third marriages.

*Without warning, the 60s crept in and overnight our hips ache, our knees creak, and we carry half a dozen pair of reading glasses in our purses.  We also walk funny when we get out of a car after riding for more than 15 minutes.

Together, we bravely face our generation’s “boomergeddon.” It’s not so  bad. We are finally comfortable with who we are and no longer feel the need to pretend to be someone else. We also like each other more, since the need to compete has been removed by that great equalizer – aging. (I prefer to think of  it  as “extreme maturity.”)

In retrospect, it seems that one day we were cutting out paper dolls, and the next we were receiving our Medicare cards.  What happened in between is a blur – until those special times when we are together and a delightful past catches up with us.

3 thoughts on “The aging of conversation

  1. This is a wonderful piece! Don’t stop these get-togethers! Each time I lose a loved one, I lose a bit of my past. We need our old friends to help us remember. And the funny thing is, we each remember an event in a different way. Each has a different focus. I think it is great that you have these wonderful friends with whom to take trips/

  2. Just wonder is Olivia Catledge one of those who are part of the group. Is so is she one of those in the pictures. I remember Olivia as a really cute little girl of 3 or 4 or maybe older that my father loved and he carried her all around on his shoulders. Her mother was a close friend of my sister, Margaret A. McLemore and her grandfather, Mr. and Mrs. Dunlap were very close friend of my mom and dad. I am probably 10 years plus older than Olivia, but I wuold love to see a picture of her and her family.

    Thinking of old times.

    Cheers on you,

    Chester McLemore

  3. Yes – that’s Olivia. She married Mack Portera (class of 64) who is chancellor of the Alabama University system. Have two boys and two grandchildren. I have pictures of her with John Bonner, her oldest grandchild. Will try to look up and send it to you.

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