Friday, March 22, 2013

"MUSIC MAN" - Nostalgia - Pictures Included

Last night I attended a musical at my alma mater, Asbury University, with some friends.  The Sophomore class did "Music Man" and did a great job. The house was packed. Then again, it was a Thursday night on campus, kids had nowhere to go, free play. And even though it was opening night, there were very few errors.

The night brought back many memories for me. I was involved in theater when I was a student. Loved every minute of it! Working backstage, painting, helping with costumes, learning my lines, even falling on the stage during dress rehearsal with my leg swelling twice its size. I remember Philip P being so concerned that he insisted I should go to the ER. I insisted that I was fine. His concern was so touching. The next day my swelling wasn't so bad, but the pain was horrible. I went on with the show.

I watched those kids last night wondering where did all of those years go for me? How did I go from that stage to this one?" How did I get so old? My journey in life has never been an easy one. Even in college, I carried a heavy burden with a sick mother at home. I could never be care free and fully happy for that burden hung heavy around my heart. My main worry should have been grades and dating. Instead my worries were grades and illness. My mother's illness. And little did  I know, her death was coming sooner than I knew.

When most kids were graduating to start a new life as husband and wife, start graduate school or a new career, I went home the same day to be a full time caregiver. I walked away from my opportunity for a wonderful relationship and possible marriage because of the burden at home. He didn't understand why I pushed him away and I could never tell him. I was ashamed of my family, their life, the horrible way they treated me. And now I would have to go home and care for a mother who hated me. How do you explain that to anyone?

As I looked at those kids tonight, I could not believe I was around their age when I took on the hardest job of my life. But I didn't have a choice. The family couldn't afford to hire anyone to care for her. Nursing home was out of the question. It was me or no one. For twenty four hours a day I took care of a bedridden mother. I couldn't go outside until my brother returned home from work at night. My dad wasn't a good caregiver. He worked all day, too, but when he returned from work, he just plopped down in front of the tv.

When my mother died, I came close to a nervous breakdown. I spent my 24th birthday at the funeral home for her viewing. Not much older than the kids I saw on stage tonight. Way too young to do what I had to do all those years ago. It is no wonder I long for my youth again.

As for the young man I cared so deeply for, the one I pushed away, he found a suitable replacement in a hurry. They married and had several children. I am assuming they are happy. A few years ago he had a stroke and has been recovering over the years. From what I hear he is doing much better and I'm glad.

How I wish my life had been different. He was the most wonderful, kindest, most gentlemanly boy I ever knew! I will never forget him.

It has been thirty years since I've graduated from Asbury University. My reunion is this summer. When I was a student, it was Asbury College so to me it will always be Asbury College. It may be more modern and up to day with air conditioned dorms, more buildings, wi-fi equipped, etc., but Asbury's heart is still the same.

When I was a student, I was blessed with the most wonderful friends in the world. We would always be close. We would be friends for a lifetime. But as years have passed, that has not held true. I can now count those friends who have stood by me on one hand. How thankful I am for the true friends! I hope those students, who have not been beaten up by the world yet, will learn the most precious friends they find here will stand by them. They will have to sift them through the fire and pain of the world as the years pass. Those will be the friends who will last a lifetime.

I have learned you cannot go home. Even though Wilmore is not my home so to speak, it has been the one place where I felt loved.
So different being on the other side of the college walls! Living in town is harder. People judge you if you're not married, wonder what's wrong with you, why you moved here, why you don't have a regular church. They grab something odd about you and gossip it through the small town ruining your chance of ever making friends. This already happened to me. Thankfully I know God is greater than gossip. He protects against the worst of the worst. I've lived inthe worst - Dothan. Wilmore may have their gossips - those who want to destroy, but there are those rare golden people who want to life up and love. I have been blessed with those people, too.

As I sat in the new theater last night watching the play, I tried to put myself into memories of my time at Asbury. It was hard. The memories fuzzy. I wanted to see "George" the rubber chicken taped underneath a table. George made an appearance somewhere on opening night in every play at Asbury when I was a student. I wanted to remember laughing at Mr. Albright when he would get so angry and we would crack a joke to lighten the mood. How we loved him so! I wanted to remember being so energetic like those kids were. I wanted to remember walking across campus and being bombed by water balloons from third floor Zoo by Frisky and his friends. I wanted to remember Frisky and his friends sitting on the bench outside Glide-Crawford dorm after the first real snow in January waiting to tackle and roll the first victim in the snow. It was a full Saturday affair for them. They would come in the Student Grille to get hot chocolate to warm up. I wanted to remember the greatest birthday parties ever. I wanted to remember the time we all climbed the tree outside the cafeteria, the President of the college walks by, doesn't look up but says, "Must be spring. All the nuts are out." I wanted to remember piling into Phil's car heading to Lexington and breaking down in front of the liquor store, having to call the office for someone to pick us up, and then the Dean of Students announcing to the entire cafeteria where we were picked up. I wanted to remember exercising in the basement of Glide-Crawford while Amy brought Pizza and had dinner. So many wonderful memories.

All of those memories are there, but they are weighed down from life's beatings. So many of those memories my friends have let go of and replaced with complaints they held onto from bad experiences.

I listened to a guy complain at intermission last night. He is so naive. Just wait, my friend, just wait.


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