It has been 63 years ago, on this day, that I graduated from high school. The viney honeysuckle is climbing over the banks below the old school building again, just as it always does at graduation time. There is no scent that brings back the memories of high school days like the perfume of this flower. I can close my eyes, and I am back in that old building that is now the Clay Middle School. The main part of the building burned long ago, but it is still there in my mind.
I found an old article that I wrote after graduating, which I had written that same year. I had visited the high school that day, and was feeling the finality of a chapter of my life that had closed. Many, many chapters have closed since then, and one day it will be the final chapter. Sometimes I get anxious to start a new chapter on the other side. It will be a glorious day!
Written in 1952–”Today I visited my old high school where four of the happiest years of my life were spent. As I wandered slowly through the familiar halls with bowed head and misty eyes, long-forgotten ghosts were aroused by my footfalls and scurried off — into the classrooms and up the stairs. A half-remembered face and voice, a scarce-heard tinkle of laughter, the precious memory of an impudent face beneath a dark crew cut–all these fluttered by me, paused a moment, and then were gone down the empty hall.
“As I go along farther, I am pierced by nostalgia–here and there I can see my classmates, just as they always were. Though now they are scattered as chaff before a wind, some never to be blown across my path again, memory places them one by one in their old accustomed places. Now I am found, lost in the past, by a well-loved teacher, and I come back to the present. It has been a day well-lived; a perfect day to be stored away in my mind, to be taken down occasionally, dusted and re-lived.
“The day is over much too soon. I must prepare to leave. I see the present students pouring through the doorways, intently hurrying, I stifle a desire to take a rosy-cheeked lass and a bright-eyed boy by the arms and say, “Can’t you see? It’s all over so soon, and all that is left is memories and reminiscing. Live for the day, and make each day full.”
“But I cannot do that. They would only wonder at me, and go their way. Too late then, they will realize as I do, that time stops for no one. A brief instant, a moment’s pause, and then it is all over. There is always someone to step in your shoes, to take your place, and fill your position. You are shed as an outworn garment, and can return only through dreams.
“Now I must return to this bewildering and sometimes difficult task of being an adult. But always I shall yearn for the days that have past, and the days which can never return.”
When I think of the years, decades really, that have passed since I wrote this, I am overwhelmed by the swift passage of time. I will soon have great-grandchildren who will be graduating from high school. Truly the Bible sums up our lives in Psalms 103-15:16, which says, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone: and the place thereof shall know it no more.” But the 17th verse gives hope, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.”
I have been overwhelmed by the cards and letters I have received since I have been hospitalized; also I had over a thousand emails waiting for my return. You will never know what this has meant to me–such loving messages of encouragement and prayers that has hastened my recovery. I had surgery on my spine, and while I was home convalescing, I sustained another compression fracture. So it was back to the hospital for more surgery, and a stay in the nursing home for therapy.
I received excellent care at CAMC General Hospital, with caring nurses and skilled doctors. At Clay Health Care Center (formerly Laurel Nursing and Rehabilitation Center) I was treated with compassion and concern. The therapists were great and the nursing staff was compassionate and quick to respond to every need.
It is wonderful to be back home, however, and I’m trying to get back to normal. There really is no place like home. Spring is sauntering along, the leaves are full and green on the trees, and wild azalea sports orange and pink blossoms. Birdsong awakens us at daybreak, and the quirr of tree frogs are heard at dusk. It’s great to live in these hills.
Janet Beegle Roush sent a poem that describes our home place with feeling.
MY HOME ON THE HILL
By Janet Beegle Roush
I look back on my childhood with, oh, such a thrill,
The joy of my life at my home on the hill.
The fields gently rolling, the woods all around,
The murmurs of the evening, the whippoorwill’s sound.
My wandering led me to the creek through the trees.
The moss covered banks that were so magic to me.
It gave me such a pleasure that touches so few,
As old as the ages, to me it is new.
The joy I was given, a gift only mine,
I will carry it with me till the end of my time.
When my days are waning I’d love to go back
To that home on the hill that is now just a shack.
The chimney still stands, the roof has collapsed,
It’s hanging by its nails; it’s breathing its last.
But in my memory the happy times will be,
Always with me, my home on the hill.