Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Basking in the Glow of a Golden Celebration

Fading summer flowers,
and long past their days of glorious blooming,
signaled that the last days of summer had truly arrived.

Are these flowers a metaphor for the weekend?
I wondered as I hurried out of the house and headed off for a weekend
 with my high school girlfriends.

Long in the planning, the weekend celebration of our
70th birthdays
had finally arrived.
I had dubbed this celebration:
Our Senior Trip.

At age seventy, some may think my girlfriends and I had reached an age beyond the blooming days of youth where there is not much to celebrate.
In our hearts we are still young girls,
we have somehow reached the entry year to our eighth decade.

We came together 
to bask 
in the glory of reaching a milestone that none of knew could be so rewarding.

  1. lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation and pleasure
    revel in and make the most of (something pleasing).*

The Trip to the Celebration

A few of us decided to make the trip from the Colorado Front Range of the Rockies
to the Western Slope of Colorado
via the train.
The train left Denver at 8:05 a.m. for a five hour and forty-eight minute trip
through the Colorado Mountains.
I had not taken this particular train route since my sophomore year in college.
That was fifty years ago.
The entire trip promised to be a nostalgic one for me.

Jim got up early and drove me to Denver where I met up with the other six girls traveling by train.  
We were all very excited.

This railroader's daughter loves a train ride.

As the train wove its way up and over the mountains, a metaphor to describe the weekend began to take shape in my mind:

All is golden.

My History with the Group

I had the good fortune to join the Girls of '63 when I first attended Pueblo East High School during my freshman year in high school.  Pueblo East was a brand new high school in 1959 when my father, an agent for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, was transferred from Colorado Springs to Pueblo. I was a very frightened fifteen year old, naive and quite young looking for my age, when I was uprooted from my junior high and transplanted to the high school setting in November of '59.  I had lived in the same house all of my life before that move.  I had known my classmates since kindergarten.

When I walked through those doors of East High, I had no idea that I would make some the most important friendships of my life in the three years I proudly wore gold and white and cheered for the Eagles.  Immediately, the girls from my class began to make me feel welcome by inviting me to school events, or seeking me out to sit with the girls at lunch.  Soon I was attending sleepovers where we laughed all night and told each other stories about our lives.

One of the girls from this group introduced me to my husband.  Her sixteenth birthday(click to read this story.) was our first date.  Now, all these years later, she would be my roommate for our 70th birthday celebration.  

Twenty-two of us gathered to celebrate our 70th birthdays together in the beautiful Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Yes, much has changed over the years, but in so many ways, nothing has changed.  Those friendships deeply rooted in our youth have flourished over the years as some have gathered quarterly for over twenty-five years.  We missed those who could not attend dearly and thought of them often.

It was my good fortune to join the lunch group about six years ago when I finally connected with some of the stalwarts of the group and learned of the next gathering.  I learned the truth of this quote below the first time I attended one of the lunches.  

This quote also came to mind so often during the weekend:
Your heart and my heart are very old friends.
~ Hafiz

The Celebration

We came together to celebrate attaining the age of seventy.  
We came together to celebrate friendship, 
our histories, 
our loyalty to each other, 
and each individual person.  

We came together to remember those we have lost.

 We shared stories of our lives while we have been living life.

We laughed.
We cried.

We came together to affirm our love for each other.  
We came together to express our support for each other as we move towards the future.

We are our own unique group of Golden Girls.

Here are some photos from our glorious birthday party:

We arrived at the beautiful old railroad station in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Our first task was to determine just how we would cross the river to our lodge on the other side.
We navigated the long pedestrian bridge and made it to our destination.
No taxi for us!

We all stayed at the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge. We had free access to the hot springs pool and a free fabulous breakfast at the hot springs every morning.  Our rooms were wonderful.  We even were able to have a large ballroom for our birthday dinner on Saturday night.  Our fabulous planner, a Glenwood Springs resident with great connections, JG (In the flowered top) made all arrangements for us.  She did an outstanding job.  She is a party planner extraordinaire.  I also think she is  the original Energizer Bunny.  Where does this girl get her energy?

Our Party Planner

The first night, we donned our Girls of '63 shirts for group photos that were taken by a professional photographer.  The poor woman charged with taking our photos must have felt like she was herding cats.  She had excellent "classroom management skills."  Many photos were taken.We had groups that included all those whom had attended kindergarten through graduation together.  I think about nine or ten of the girls were in this group.  That alone is an amazing thing.  About five or six of us joined the Class of '63 during high school.  I alone, did not graduate with the group because my father was transferred to Leadville, Colorado just before my senior year.  

After photos, we walked through town to go to a vaudeville show which was excellent and exceeded all expectations for entertainment for the evening.  As we walked through town we garnered quite a few reactions.  "Hey, were you all born in '63?"  I said I'd take someone believing we all were 63.  A passenger in a passing car built our egos with a whistle.  (Hey, it's been a long time since we've had a guy whistle at us.)

Saturday night we had our big birthday dinner.  So many did so much work to get everything ready, but JG outdid herself.  A florist by trade, she made our table centerpieces and dressed the tables in our school colors of gold and white.  Yearbooks and memory books were on each table.  We had individual table place markers with a picture from our high school yearbook.  SP made each of us a rose bookmark.  JG made the fabulous birthday cake.  

A history of our group was read by PS.  As is our tradition, we raised our margaritas as a toast to those we have lost too soon.  We wept as a list of all of the fallen Eagles from our class was read.  Too many are gone too soon.  A few of the girls went to great effort to set up a tree with photos of all of our fallen Eagles.

The weekend was all about friendship.
I have the best girlfriends.
I am so blessed.
My Girlfriends
Pure Gold
Some of my readers have remarked that they are amazed that this group has met on a consistent basis.  Truly, it is a remarkable feat in this day and age to have a group stay so connected for all these years. We owe PS for the gift of this group.  She is our organizer.  She keeps us together by setting the dates for our meetings in advance.  Those who can come to events, do so.  Those who can't come try to attend the next one.

The hostess for each gathering usually has a co-hostess who serves as a backup hostess just in case of emergency.  The hostess provides the main dish.  PS makes sure we have desserts, salads, and sides assigned to all attending. She even maintains a group photo album that includes a group photo from every gathering since the very first one.  PS had the vision of a 70th birthday party, and we actually made it a reality!  Thank you, PS!
PS reading the history of our group
The setting for the celebration could not have been better.  We had access to the healing waters of the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs for three glorious days.  The warm natural springs provided just the right place for bonding again with each other.  One day, I'm sure we spent at least three hours in the afternoon just standing in a large circle in the water, or sitting on sides with our feet soaking in the warm water, talking.  Yes, there was a lot of talking, talking, talking, and much laughter.  We cried a bit.  We marveled at the stories of our lives.  We were astounded that we actually had these hours together for such deep, reflective, sharing.  
The setting
DC & KM friends for 65 years

I felt younger and healthier after a weekend of soaking in the healing waters for hours on end.  Was this place the fountain of youth?  I remember looking up at the beautiful Colorado blue sky, feeling the warmth of the sun on my shoulders, and gazing into the beautiful lined faces and sparkling eyes of my lifelong friends and thinking that life just doesn't get much better than this.

Too soon, it was time to go home. 

Throughout the weekend, we shared hugs, 
held hands, 
promised to be there to end.
DDI commented that next great challenge as a group would be loss of hearing.
Yes, we had a hard time hearing at times.
That is the reality of celebrating 70!

We had soaked up rays of sun and healing waters.
We relaxed and experienced great pleasure.

We reveled in, and
 made the most of
celebrating our 70th birthdays.

We basked in the warmth of our golden friendships.

* Dictionary.com


Terri Tiffany said...

Amazing! Awesome! Wonderful!!!

dkzody said...

Absolutely charming depiction of a good time had by a bunch of girls who are still young at heart. You are all to be commemorated for making this happen.

Linda Reeder said...

This is a great story, from the beginning when these women, then girls, welcomed you, the new comer, into their circle of friendship, up to the present as you gather in lasting friendship, and into the future, as your bond keeps bringing you back together. This is a rare and special gift that you women have.

Tom Sightings said...

There are no friends like old friend. So ... bask away!

Margaret Adamson said...

Utterly amazing adn so wpnderful that yyou have kept together for all these years an dnot living closee to one another.

DJan said...

I remember the Glenwood Springs healing waters. I'm so glad you had this experience, and it brought back a little of Colorado to me. How wonderful that you had this experience. And now, on to the next one!! :-)

Olga Hebert said...

What a wonderful life you have in so many ways. This story of lasting friendships is absolutely precious.

Jeanie said...

Well, first of all, happy 70! What a big event and what a fabulous way to celebrate it. How wonderful to continue your friendships with these women for such a long while and still have them "fit" so well. I'm sure there was plenty of laughter and tears and a good deal of love and fun. Three cheers!

Betsy Adams said...

Beautiful post, Sally, with life-long friends. There were four of us, Girls of '60, who grew up together and would meet every year in the Fall ---once we turned 50.... BUT--now two of them are gone. SO---enjoy your friends for as long as you can. None of us has any guarantee of how long we will be on this earth...


Jean said...

What an amazing get-together! One of my exercise-class friends also gets together with her close-knit group of high school friends periodically. They're almost 75 now.

Arkansas Patti said...

Not a stretch at all to think you were all actually 63. I love that quote and know it personally to be true. Friends are those that you just seem to start up again like you have never been separated.
Lovely bunch of ladies and know you will enjoy the next one as well.

Gosia k said...

impressive 70th birthday.love from poland

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I like the fact that you have a system for making sure the tradition continues. Few of us have that kind of intentional contact with our oldest friends, I think. What a nice thing to have in your life!

Keicha Christiansen said...

I love everything about this! I'm so glad you were able to go and bask in the glow of all of your friendships. XO

Joyce said...

I absolutely loved everything about this post. Happy birthday to all of you!

Rose said...

I am one of those who marvels that you all still get together! My group of friends from high school gets together every few years just for dinner or lunch, and it's hard enough getting everyone to that. Looks like a wonderful weekend--old friends are the best!

Helva said...

Some of my year-group from Portsmouth High School (Portsmouth, Hampshire. England!) have been meeting every 2 years since the 30th anniversary of our leaving school. We have just had the most recent one last Wednesday, and there were 15 of us out of the original 60 or so - it should have been 20+ but several were unable to come due to medical appointments (mostly for husbands) and other things, and sadly the husband of our organizer passed away on the previous Monday, which saddened us. But as we are all now 77 (I am the youngest and had my birthday yesterday, Oct 4th!) I think we're doing rather well. This is quite unusual for the UK, and we don't go away for a weekend or a few days (I really fancy the idea of somewhere like Glenwood Springs!) - we meet up for lunch at a rather nice hotel to the East of Portsmouth. As I live in mid-Wales, it's quite a long way, but my husband and I drove our caravan down on the previous Sunday and had a week-long holiday, visiting relatives and friends in the area, staying on a caravan site that we know quite well. Unusually for this year, the weather over the whole week was very good - not hot, but sunny, although there was a cool breeze and the nights were cold, and our dog (a silver-grey miniature poodle) enjoyed himself as well!
Congratulations on your 70th - welcome to the septuagenarian world!!
And thank you for your brilliant description of your reunion (your English-teacher skills are still in fine form - I was a Math teacher for many years).
Greetings from the other side of the 'pond', and b;essings.
'Helva' (friend of Perpetua)

Linda P. said...

Those pictures did epitomize a golden gathering. I know it must take work to maintain those bonds, so it's a great accomplishment!

Maggie May said...

Belated Happy Birthday and congratulations! I'm 3 years older than you!
All of you are fairing very well and don't look as old as you say!
Glad the outing was such a success. Its great to get together like that.
The views you passed through were so lovely and so different from anything we have over here.
Enjoy many more Birthdays!
Maggie x

Kay said...

By the way, your header photo is absolutely awesome! What a fabulous memory you can now treasure forever. Happy, Happy Birthday!

Barb said...

A wonderful post about sustaining friendships. As you know, I just returned from a similar Girlfriends' Vacation in Glenwood. We are rich in friendship, Sally!