For your convenience, each Reader’s Forum submission is separated by the ## symbol.
In response to Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Choices, Roy wrote:
I have been totally blind all my life and am now 53 years old. If I were given the choice to have my sight tomorrow I would turn it down. I would have to learn to live all over again–learning to read, to write, to travel, to just live life a different way. I’d have to learn colors. And, hopefully, I wouldn’t become superficial by judging others by how they look on the outside. The only reason I’d even be tempted to say yes would be to drive a car. But, with Google developing the self-driving car that’s becoming less important. So, for me, it’d be “no” to sight.
In Response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Another Successful Reunion, Chris wrote:
I count myself fortunate that since leaving school in 1969, I have managed to keep in touch with a number of girlfriends all along, and as the school organized a handful of reunions over the years, I’ve caught up with others who were older than I and I hadn’t been able to keep in touch with them, plus a number of the lads.
I was at boarding schools in the UK for the partially sighted from 1957 to 1969; the whole of my school life. I left my first boarding school for girls only at the age of nearly 12, in 1963, and there was no chance to keep in touch with anyone. We were too young really and anyway one or two of my girlfriends joined me the following year and I soon forgot about the other friends. In the early 1970s, when organizing my first voluntary group for the partially sighted, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were in a local supermarket and I realized one of the ‘shelf stackers’ was partially sighted. Could she be my first friend at school when I was five, who was introduced to me as a ‘big girl’ 18 months old than I? It was indeed. Her parents were living in a particular road and house then –and when I married in 1976 and came to live where I am now–some five miles from my parents house, they were still in their house just a few hundred yards from my front gate. My husband has spent 37 years walking past their gate several times a day on his way to and from work.
Yvonne and I and another friend, Muriel–we met when we were still aged between 7 and 9–meet for coffee and ring each other up regularly. We’re as local as we can get being about 10 miles from each other maximum. We were at school together some 20 miles from where we live. In 1963, Muriel and I left that school and moved to a school in Coventry–some 100 miles from home. Through trials and tribulations we have remained in touch. Yvonne, Muriel, and I all have daughters born the same year–and Yvonne and mine are just five days apart. Only the decision to send her children to a different school at 11 to the one I chose has meant Deborah and my Hazel weren’t in the same school year or subject class for six years!
The use of the Internet has meant I email some friends several times a day, ring and text others every week or so, meet some of them whenever I can and others it’s not possible to meet (I could spend my whole year travelling just round the UK should I have the time, energy and cash!). We meet for weddings, funerals (yes there have been a few), go on holiday together. In 10 days time a small group of us–men and women–will meet for a weekend in Coventry where our school was. Because we’re in touch so regularly we no longer really think of this as a reunion: it’s just a bunch of friends spending a weekend together. Later in July one of friends is marrying for the second time having been widowed. She married a boy from school–one or two made it to their wedding, a small number of us made it to his funeral (this involves quite a lot of travelling for everyone of course) and a number of us girls will be at her wedding and one of us will be her matron of honor (not me). The fiancé’s going to be ‘inspected’ next weekend by ‘the lads’ (some of whom are Carole’s ‘exes’–really we’re more like a big bunch of brothers and sisters). We care about every aspect of our lives and we know from what we’ve been through (serious illness, deaths of friends and spouses, families in serious trouble, births, marriages of our siblings as well as our children) that our friends are always there for us. This year we even have the pleasure of meeting someone we all believed had died back in 1970 from a serious illness. The Internet enabled him to find me online (I was once engaged to him so he had an interest shall we say!). We were also classmates so I was a gateway to other classmates.
Reunions bring pain and pleasure. With the best will in the world some people can happily meet 2 or 3 friends but refuse to come to ‘big’ gatherings. Our group could be as large as about 30 but this year will be nearer a dozen plus a few spouses. Our group will grow again when next year we move to a bigger more convenient city for travel connections–and there won’t be any memories hanging over those who didn’t enjoy their time at the school.
Sincerely Chris (Reading, Berks, UK)
In Response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Another Successful Reunion, Jan wrote:
I have attended Bob Branco’s reunions since 2005 and have enjoyed them. One thing I appreciate is that Bob does a roll call at each one, so we all know who is there. The reunions are small enough, so that we can walk around and see people that we’re not sitting with, which is wonderful, since at least two of my friends have more difficulty getting around than I do and I have to go up to them in order to see them. I have been able to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in thirty years, and to see people I previously was only able to keep in touch by phone. I also like the reunions because it’s separate from alumni. Some of us can’t attend alumni for various reasons.
Bob does a terrific job of helping people get in touch with each other and he does it all on his own.