Class of 1980, North Platte Senior High (2010)

Support groups come in many formats, some formal, some casual, and some entirely accidental.

Last night Sherman and I met with our formal Alzheimer’s support group. One member, even as she was grieving her mother’s death, talked about the joy she felt knowing that her mother was free from some of the tougher aspects of this life. Afterwards others in the group shared what was going on as they cared for (and about) their loved ones who were still living.

Finally, someone mentioned how different the mood of our circle was from the general feeling today that there’s not much right in this world. People in our group care—sometimes too much. Someone else suggested that the idea that these were uncaring times was an untruth stirred up by a media hungry for a good story.

That’s when I thought, well, I’m part of the media, too. No one will confuse me with a big media source, but the words I write can show a few people somewhere that good stories still exist about positive things. Or maybe that some of us think positive things are good stories, even when they aren’t exciting.

And the positive good story I want to share is about my 30th high school reunion this past weekend. One statement classmates have been posting again and again is amazement at how much of the weekend everyone spent smiling. It’s true—look at the pictures (well the few Sherman took—I was too busy talking!) Of course, we came to have a good time and relax with the people who knew us so well (or not!) long ago, but that didn’t mean it was going to happen.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

What’s really amazing to me is how much those smiles contrast with the really tough life events many people have encountered, starting with the losing some of our classmates long ago. We could have grown cynical enough and angry enough at life to believe there wasn’t much to smile about. On the other hand, we could have decided life is short and we might as well just take care of ourselves and our own enjoyment.

Thank goodness, I didn’t see much of either side last weekend.

I saw people who did a pretty good job of walking the line between caring for others and enjoying themselves. In other words, these people were working to balance the good and bad in this life and still believe that on more days than not, it was all worth it.

Some family commitments kept them from one of the events or work obligations such as traveling or training meant they couldn’t make it to all the events—or the pivot broke, right, Sherry? Yet still they came when they could.

When people talked about their lives, so much was said about their connections and doing what was right by those they love: moving home to care for their parents or just being with them through their illnesses, helping their parents with household chores when visiting, spending time with them in care facilities and taking over their responsibilities when needed, sitting by the bed of an injured child, figuring out how much to do for their kids and how much to let them do, moving somewhere for a spouse, etc.

We had our serious conversations, when we were the parents or the adult children of parents or even the person with the difficulty—or all of the above. And someone always understood what we had gone through or were experiencing because he or she stood in similar shoes. We were that accidental support group.

Then we jumped back to forgotten memories, debated memories, and those we were busy creating. We spent a lot of time repeating ourselves—why don’t those other people speak up??!! (Turns out the rock music is getting the last laugh—well, the rock music and our future audiologists who will be laughing all the way to the bank.)

Reminds me of our class song, after all: “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas. Those of us who still get to celebrate this life are doing what it takes to keep working through our burdens and trying to keep the faith that, like the mother of the woman last night, one by one we’ll reach that peace when we set those burdens down for good.

Queen for a Minute, 2010

However, “carry on” has another meaning that means more than enduring. One possible definition, according to, is: to behave in an excited, improper, or silly manner. I’m OK with the excited and silly part—and maybe even the improper part if it’s based on some rigid view of what it means to be an adult.

I’m willing to grow up enough to meet my obligations, but not so much that I can’t act silly from time to time. Acting silly with others provides me with another kind of accidental support group—and gets me through much of what is hard.

Thanks NPHS Class of 1980—carry on with me, (some of) the best is yet to be.