Friday, July 17, 2009

The Yearbook

Seven mouths to feed and never enough money for extras but everyone was healthy and oblivious of the lack of money. Never having had extravagant forms of entertainment, all seven soaked up the summers out of doors and the winters were for sled riding and snowball fights.

The children were ranged in size and age like stair steps. The older one was responsible for caring for the one next to them in age. Everyone had chores to make things livable. Laundry, gardens, cleaning and food prep was divided to boys and girls and as to what their age determined they could manage

As the years passed and the children grew older, they found part time employment to help out and ease the financial strains. They were able to make enough money to purchase school supplies and a few clothes. Class rings and yearbooks were something they saved for and their money was handed over when the time arrived to purchase these things. That class ring and yearbook were cherished. It had been purchased with money long saved by each of the seven.

Each year she took her saved money and bought her yearbook and at graduation she gathered all four yearbooks, packed them in a box and took them with her when she moved out of state. Occasionally she would find time to flip through them and wonder at the fate of the people whose faces would gaze back at her from those pages. Best friends, acquaintances and people she knew only by name and face were all captured and saved in her yearbooks. Her yearbooks were memories from the town she spent most of her youth in. Treasured books of her past.

One year while traveling, she had to store her possessions in an outbuilding. Oklahoma in the spring is notorious for tornadoes and spring storms. The outbuilding was old and fragile. The storms arrived that year and the little building developed leaks allowing the winds and rain to blow through. When she went back to gather her belongings she found total devastation. Water soaked and dried, the pages of her yearbooks were swollen and most pages were stuck together making it impossible to salvage her beloved yearbooks. She sat and mourned those yearbooks; she gathered them up and emptied them in the garbage barrels and walked away. She dumped her past in those garbage barrels and for the next 20 years she would occasionally think about her yearbooks and quietly and quickly mourn their loss.

Another 10 years passed and an old friend from her home town came to visit with her husband. When this friend returned to the town of their youth, she went to the high school and inquired about ordering yearbooks from past years. The person she talked to at the school told her they had a few extra yearbooks and strange as this may seem, she had the senior yearbook she was looking for, an extra. That yearbook was shipped by this friend to her for Christmas one year.

This yearbook enjoys a place on a shelf that is warm and dry and alongside the family photo albums and is easily reached in the event of an evacuation. At least once a year the yearbook is opened and enjoyed. She is grateful for this one yearbook and is thankful every day that she has a friend that would spend her time to track down, secure and mail something that meant so much to her.

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