Reconnecting Fifty Years of Friends
Huntington, Sharon, The Christian Science Monitor
The plan was to do something special for our parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We would invite all their friends and relatives to send cards, collect all the cards together, and present them as a surprise. We thought it would be easy, but my brother, David, and I soon discovered that the job was a lot like pulling on a loose thread on your sleeve and unraveling the whole sweater.
Reaching Dad's six sisters was easy. I called one aunt and asked her to spread the word. Their cards arrived within a few days, but then they have always been a prompt bunch, just like my dad. I hadn't talked to
my uncle in years, and when I called him in Colorado, we had a great time catching up. My mother's two sisters were easy to find, but hunting up cousins, nephews, and nieces required David's maneuvering on the Internet. We soon found the word spreading ahead of us. When I contacted one cousin, she had already heard from her sister, who got it from her niece's husband, who was informed by his mother, who played bridge with my aunt. Then we started thinking about friends, both current and past. I knew the name of one of Dad's childhood friends from elementary school. When I called him, I learned that he had been best man at their wedding. He shared a few stories I had never heard about my dad as a boy. I called my parents' friends in Kansas that I hadn't talked to in 20 years. They reminded me of a family in Reno, Nev., my parents had known when their daughter was in a nearby college. A few friends in Arizona reminded me of other old friends I should contact. Soon I was chasing down someone else in New York. I tried not to think about my phone bill. In trying to recall old friends, my brother and I reviewed each place where we'd lived and all our parents' regular activities. My parents still keep in touch with some neighbors from our first house in Provo, Utah, and they have dinner once a year with our next-door neighbors from Springville. They were easy to find. A few more of my mother's school friends came to mind, then some people from offices where each had worked. During our teenage and college years, we lived in a converted carriage house filled with character, and often with characters. …