Our old group got together last night. Five couples, who have somehow survived all the things life has thrown at us for over thirty years. A few couples have been added and substracted again through the years but this group has remained together.
The husbands played fast pitch softball together once upon a time. The girlfriends and later wives saw each other at least twice a week during the summer months when the league was going. We partied together as young, unfettered people party, drinking cold beers around open coolers after games, descending on bars in city tournaments after games, and back country festivals at other tournaments. We were young and partying hearty was the highlight of a workweek.
First came marriages and then inevitably for all of us, came the baby carriage. As the kids came and new responsibilities, for the men it finally became clear that playing softball unfettered was most likely in their past.
After a few years of going our own busy ways, we decided that we desperately needed a night out and a chance to all get together and so began our first steps toward what would become, "Couples Club". It started as an invitation to join a group for the Stumper's Hunt, a road rally of sorts through the streets of Saginaw. It was great fun and we enjoyed it immensely, but we had kind of attached ourselves to another larger group as fill ins. We changed and adapted to go again, and slowly the group that emerged was the guys that had played softball together all those years. We enjoyed getting together and for me, it was about getting out of the house and being with friends who weren't fellow story hour moms or relatives.
We decided to "host' the get togethers during the fall and winter months when cabin fever was at its height among us. We picked months we wanted to do it and it was up to us to decided the entertainment. We could host at our homes and have a card game or board game ready for fun, or we could pick an event we would all go to. The one rule, unspoken, was it had to be affordable for all of us. We did Halloween parties and traveled as a group to Haunted Houses and even invaded a wedding reception dressed in our costumes. The father of the bride was so tickled he had a group picture of us taken with the bride and groom. We became groupies and followed a favorite band around venue to venue. We attended more road rallies and had sleigh rides on nights so cold, the wine in our bottles froze. We had bonfires and murder mysteries to be solved and Christmas caroling, and looking back we had a ball at all of it.
Divorce split some of us up and some came a few times but drifted away. The core five couples remained for years. But as change is inevitable, it also came to us. We lived in different towns and our kids attended different schools and in different districts. Our kids became involved in school activities and sports and as they were involved so were we. As they entered high school the Couples Club adventures ceased, to a once year gathering, usually at Christmas and running into each other at the kids rival school events. We stayed in touch but the Couples Club was suspended for a time.
Our kids began to graduate and we would see each other at the Open Houses. We talked about getting together again, but it was usually just talk, then came weddings of the older kids and we decided it was time. So now we try to get together once a year at least and discuss weddings and the latest in all or most of our lives, grandkids. Pictures were passed around and we oohed and aahhed over the newest addtions. We laughed at the thoughts that those wonderful grandbabies become toddlers and we sometimes lament them not being babies any longer. We talked of all the things we know in our lives as retirement creeps up on some and has descended on others. We talk about aches and pains and kids far from home, living, working and starting families too far from us. Our talk turns to those we have all known in our pasts and who are no longer with us. Parents and friends who have passed on. We talk about things once so important to us, and now how importance is a relevant word, as those things that mean the most to us are sharing laughter and the intimate things left to us by those we loved. Its not so much what we have, but what we know now, we no longer need. We laugh until we cry about what we will do when we become grandparents and the sage advice of those already there.
We talk about traveling and for some it is a dream fulfilled and for others of us, it is an itch we might never scratch entirely. We sigh and talk about how a warm house and a big fire or a big black dog flopped next to us gives us comfort we wouldn't have imagined a few short years ago. We acknowledge much as we hate to, the Flower Children of the 60's, the Vietnam Vets, the rebels, and the Me Generation of the 70's that we are aging and things we swore would never happen to us, have come and they're not so bad. We don't want to run a marathon, (well, some of us do), but for most it is a time past. We like for the most part where we're at. We're cancer survivors, retirees who've gone back to work, and those of us facing retirement who aren't sure what it will bring. We are adventurers and world travelers, and humanitarians. We abide in God and believe in our "Causes" and don't see why everyone else can't use common sense. We are Liberals, Conservatives, Moderates and Independents. We talk politics sparingly as we have known each other too many years to let those differences define what we should be in the future. We respect and cheer for one another and we bless and cry for them. Most of all we just enjoy our times together.
Someday our circle will be broken beyond earthly separation, and we will grieve with one another, but for now we just plan the next time we will get together and enjoy each other's company. And that's enough...