Tag Archives: reunion

Telling Stories


Another reunion weekend at Wesleyan and this one was a Big One. Twenty five years since the class of 1990 graduated. My last year as Alumnae President. I’ve got so many stories to tell but I need time to sit still and think about them. These were my remarks to the Alumnae Association on Saturday morning:

After all the pomp and circumstance, it’s good to turn to our sisters and say, “Good morning!” And I add, “Welcome Home!” because Wesleyan is home for all of us gathered here.

I’m usually rather extemporanteous with my speeches–I wait to be inspired by something during the weekend, some idea that comes close to the explaining the love that we feel here when we all get together. But this weekend has been even more busy than usual. It’s my 25th reunion (insert very loud WOO-HOO AND WHEEEE here)…and we have been staying up very late telling stories.

Kym, who is one of the most beautiful, wise and generally brilliant people I know, told us of the anguish she felt as she learned to wait and to abide while her father died.

Ystoriesvette, who we haven’t seen for 25 years, told of the joy of finding work that she loves, that keeps her growing. She made us laugh with the story of her soulmate proposing on the brim of the Grand Canyon, even as a tour bus clapped and waited for her answer. We laughed with her, past midnight.

We all could relate when Natalie talked about working 50 hours a week at the bank, but running home on her lunch break to bake muffins for her son’s cross country team. So we told her, “Sweetie–they have bakeries. Get you some money from the bank and BUY muffins, then take a nap.”

Two a.m., and Natalie crows, “Ashley! Tell us about that time you knew your marriage to Fartbuster was over! The one with the ice!” So I did. I told them of the epic blowout in the middle of the Atlanta airport when I stood back and said, “I don’t want this anymore. This isn’t the life I want for myself.”

Three a.m. rolled around but we just couldn’t stop telling stories. And I hadn’t written a speech.

But Friday night, at the Celebration Concert, I heard something that made sense of this weekend, that summed up the joy I feel when my sisters and I are together. Two members of the Green Knight class of 1980 sang “For Good” from Wicked. If you know the story, Glinda and Elpheba are two young women who meet at school:

“It well may be

That we may never meet again

In this lifetime

So let me say before we part–

So much of me

Is made of what I learn from you

You’ll be with me

Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have rewritten mine

By being my friend.”

We need a place to tell our stories, a safe circle of people who love us and laugh when we laugh and cry when we cry. I have that circle and I love you, every one of you. Thank you for rewriting my story.


Shine Through

candle-139120_640Saturday morning, it was my privilege as the President of the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association to hear the beautiful sound of almost 1000 people sigh in unison.  I’ll never forget it as long as I live.  And it all started with me eavesdropping on a couple of little old ladies from a bathroom stall.

This was Alumnae Weekend, when classes return to campus to celebrate reunions; this year we welcomed the classes ending in 4 and 9.  We even celebrated two members of the class of 1939 who returned for their 75th reunion.  There’s a special luncheon on Friday for the “Golden Belles.”  That’s the class celebrating its 50th reunion–this year, the Class of 1964.

Before my duties began at the luncheon–the welcoming of dignitaries, the reading of the roll call, the recounting of their exploits five years before I was born–I ducked into the ladies room.  Three woman stood by the sinks, washing hands and fixing hairdos.  They didn’t notice me.

hands-195657_640They said how good it was to see each other.  And how sad it was that some faces were gone.  One said, “Time has passed so quickly!”  Another laughed, “How did we get so old?”  Then the third voice said, “But you know?  When I see my friends, even after all these years, their young faces shine through.”

That was the line that made the whole auditorium sigh when I told the story the next morning.  We Wesleyannes gather, every spring, for the highlight of our Annual Meeting–Candle Lighting.  Each senior chooses a Wesleyan alumna to light her candle, the symbolic act that marks her entry into the Alumnae Association.  It might be her big sister, her sister, her mother, a teacher, a mentor, a friend.  My candlelighter back in 1990, Mrs. Anne Strozier Threadgill, was in the audience Saturday with her sisters in the Class of 1949.  She was my English teacher in high school, and she taught my mother and father as well.

I lit the first candle.  Then, as the organ played, the light traveled, person to person, from the stage to the seats, from the front row to the back.  We stand in the twilight of the auditorium, all quiet and together, decade upon decade of proud Wesleyannes.  We join in a responsive reading of the Benson Charge, which was written by Catherine Brewer Benson, Class of 1840.


Part of the Charge reads:  “You of the Class of 2014 who are about to join the band of 9,000 whose privilege it has been to spend their years on the Wesleyan campus–remember that the privilege has been granted to comparatively few persons.  Remember that, as Emerson said, ‘large advantages bind you to larger generosity;’ and you owe it to the world to give to others the best that is in you.”

That’s what I treasure about Alumnae Weekend, getting back in touch with the privilege and responsibility of being a Wesleyanne.

In the glow of the candlelight, our young faces shine through.

This is the place where we will always be known.

This is the place where we will always find home.