By now reminders of my age come not in a trickle as they have for years but in more of a steady drizzle. A little lightening strike happened about ten days ago with the death of Linda Oatman Townsend who was my first best friend. That was first grade (we had no kindergarten in our small school). She became Lin in later life but is always Linda to me. Only 35 or so children in our first grade class and, of them, a large proportion were together right through 12th grade. Only Linda and I went to college from high school. (A few others did later on). Always friends but not "best" friends as the years went on. She lived in town and I lived on a farm; I couldn't go to her house to play although once or twice she came home with me.
Interests changed, personalities firmed up, boy friends intervened. In Indiana University we lived in different dorms and never saw one another. Not really again until out 40th high school reunion. By the 50th (a few years ago) the internet had entered our lives and Linda took on the role of communicator. She had retained strong ties to her home town and to many of our classmates, as I had not. She began emailing monthly updates. A great many of them spoke or cancer, heart attacks, deaths of class members. She, herself, was frail, with COPD. I knew a little about her career s a teacher in Covina, California, but not much.
She went into the hospital to have a hip replacement replaced. Did well enough to go to rehab a few days after the surgery, then collapsed and died. I have not heard except a conjecture of internal bleeding, a culpable surgeon or hospital. Whichever, she is being buried in her hometown near her parents. She had a full and active live in Covina but she was a hometown girl. Our lives have barely touched each other for over 50 years, but I feel nostalgic and wish we had stayed more in touch. The several other deaths of classmates have not struck such a doleful note for me. And, of course, the sense that she shouldn't have died just yet is sobering. It can happen to any of us.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!