Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursdays with Ira: Part II

Thursdays with Ira have become an important tradition. I think I could write a book about the conversations that we have had over the past several months and it would be well worth the read.  Ira is 81 years old.  He has been a widower for less than a year.  His insights on life take me days to process after we depart from our Thursday morning breakfast meetings.  Today’s topic of discussion was rather unique.

Ira decided on a whim last week to drive over 200 miles to the small east Texas community where he lived until age 14.  He wanted to step back into time and seek out his roots. He stopped at a local cafĂ© and asked about the school where he attended. And he also inquired about the little country church where his family worshipped. And of course he wanted to go back to the home where he grew up.  The locals were friendly, and eagerly provided detailed directions to all three locations.

There was not much left of the old school, but he was still able to get out and take some pictures of the shell of a building that remains. The roof on the now abandoned church was caved in.  And when found the location of his old home, he discovered that it has been demolished. The gas refinery that students met in front of to catch the school bus is marked only by a cyclone fence that is barely intact.

Despite the obvious impact of time on such important markers in his life he was still able to tell me about events that took place at home and at school. He remembers his mother calling the kids from their play area in the pine trees behind the house.  And he recalls his baptism at the little country church that now stands empty every Sunday.  His trip down memory lane seemed to be satisfying to him.

As I listened to Ira’s story, I sat up in my chair. I felt humbled and grateful. I made the same trip back in time to my old home and elementary school.  I was 47 at the time. My old house is still standing.  And I was able to tour my elementary school with dear friends that I attended classes with back in the early ‘70’s. I am thankful that we toured the school when we did.  It is scheduled for closure at the conclusion of this school year.

My walk back in time led to all kinds of reunions and the formation of new friendships.  Today I have wondered why I am so fortunate. I am sure at this stage in life that a lot of Ira’s childhood friends are deceased. I have been able to reap all of the benefits of walking into the past and also bring that era into this stage of my life.

Did Ira wait to late?  I don’t believe that to be true. When he was 47 years old, there were no social media outlets to reconnect old friends. But I would say this: don’t put off reconnecting.  If you feel compelled to go back to your roots, go now. If there is a need to forgive people from your past in the process, don’t put that off either. Life is a mist. One day we are out on the playground and the next day we are returning to a shell that was once a school or a home. I am glad Ira made that road trip and I am equally thankful that he shared the outcome with me. I am more grateful than ever for those special people that I can’t imagine being without now.  I realize now that I could have waited too long and the outcome would have been much different. 

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