The Ties That Bind Us by
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(139 Stories)

Prompted By Reconnecting

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Cartoon by Marcia Liss

For me, reconnecting is an informal process. I attended one high school reunion and felt disconnected from my classmates, most of whom still lived in the suburbs of Detroit. The University of Michigan is so big that when my husband and I attended our 50th reunion, we only saw one person I knew, both from high school and college. Efforts to track down college friends, even with Facebook and the Internet, yielded no results or, even worse, a couple of obituaries. So, my reconnecting stories begin with ways to rekindle old ties that have fallen away over the years.

Chavurah at a wedding circa 2000

My reconnecting stories begin with ways to rekindle old ties that have fallen away over the years.

I wrote about the communities that meant so much to me in A Lifetime of Tribes. I have to credit Zoom for rekindling the connection of our Chavurah (from the Hebrew root word for comrades), a Jewish friendship group we joined in 1974 to celebrate holidays and to provide religious education for our children in our homes. Our favorite activity, aside from eating, was constructing and decorating a sukkah. We did for 40 years until our children declared it was no longer safe for us to climb ladders. After that, we kept in casual contact. Two of us moved to condos, our beloved Henry died, some became snowbirds and were not around as much. Then, the pandemic hit.

One of our last Sukkot productions

Margaret decided the women, who were the main glue holding the group together, should have a weekly zoom session. At first, I wondered what we would talk about. We had drifted apart and I kept in closer contact with some than others. And yet, this weekly meeting became a way for us to keep in touch and recapture the ties that connected us when our group was more active and met several times a year. Not to be undone, Margaret’s husband, Paul, started a group for the men. There were just four of them able to participate and my husband was skeptical that they would find much to discuss. Amazingly, they not only reconnected but also got to know one another on a much deeper level.

Reunion of the founding staff in 2016

Zoom has also helped my friends who have retired from Cherry Preschool to stay in touch. In 2016, the founding staff of the school gathered at my house in advance of the 25th anniversary celebration. There was so much affection and close connection between us that, even as most retired, we tried to meet occasionally for lunch. A few of us had been zooming, and recently most of the larger group of retirees met virtually. It was pure delight to catch up on the lives of these women who meant so much to me as we worked together at Cherry Preschool.

Some of our retired staff on recent zoom

At the same time that the founding staff met, I hosted another gathering for the founding board of the preschool. Some of us had stayed connected because they joined the staff of the preschool. Others had moved on after their children graduated. But coming together after 25 years, it felt like no time had passed. We were forever bonded by the experience of creating a school from scratch in just nine months. Ironically, three of them now live in the condo we moved to in May, and we were able to get together (masked and socially distanced) in the summer and fall on the building’s sun deck. I am looking forward to more connection once we are vaccinated and the weather warms up.

Founding board of the preschool in 2016

This week’s prompt asks us, “who have you reconnected with? How did you find them?” My last connection illustrates the strange role fate plays in reconnecting. Once I retired and started blogging, I was feeling lost. I don’t remember how I happened upon a cartoon drawn by someone I casually knew when our kids were growing up. Probably Facebook. We belonged to the same synagogue many years ago but our children went to different schools until high school. Ironically, my daughter went to a formal dance with her son. I reached out to her to ask if I could use her cartoon for one of my posts. We met for coffee and talked endlessly about retirement. Marcia became my guide, collaborator, and good friend. We wondered how we had managed to miss making this connection earlier in our lives. But what really matters is that we are not too old to reconnect now.

Cartoon by my “new” friend Marcia Liss that inspired me post-retirement.

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real, join my Facebook community, and visit my website.

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Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: moving, well written

Comments

  1. John Shutkin says:

    A great compendium of connections and reconnections, Laurie. And equally great collection of photos. I love and agree with the point you so well illustrate, that reconnections can come at any time at after any number of years.

    As you aptly end, We are not too old to reconnect now.” Amen.

  2. Wonderful story Laurie and nice to see your connection to our wonderful Retro cartoonist Marcia!
    We threw a big bash for our 50th anniversary two years ago and it was great to see old friends from the various parts of our lives!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      We celebrated ours in 2018, which is a good thing because it would have been sad to do it now. All of our kids and grandkids were there, which was the main thing we wanted. We added a few close friends and my husband’s in-town sibs. It is great to be lucky enough to reach this milestone. Were you also married in 1968, Dana?

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    You have a lot of good connections, Laurie. And Marcia has been a great addition to Retrospect with her wry commentary on life through the eyes of a cartoonist.

    Having read your stories for a while now, I know your family is your deepest connection, but you connect with many people, deeply. I understand about UofM being so huge that there is no point in attending reunions (though weren’t you in a sorority? Do they have any way to keep in touch with the members?) And Zoom gives us a way for group connections now during the pandemic. It isn’t perfect, but at least we can see people and have group chats. Better than nothing.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I feel an attachment to my years at Michigan, but mostly because of the close friends I had there (some have been lost, some have died) and because I met Fred there and we had such happy times together. I deactivated my sorority after a year. Just not my thing. So most of my connections have been made since I moved to Chicago in 1967. Zoom has been a great help, but I can’t wait to hug my grandkids!

  4. Suzy says:

    Laurie, you have done a lot of reconnecting! The one that I got excited about was your reconnection with Marcia, whom we now all know from her brilliant cartoons. I assumed you had been friends with her continuously for many years, so it was interesting to learn that you had only reconnected after retirement. So glad she is back in your life – and in all of ours.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Suzy, my friendship with Marcia is a mystery to us. Why didn’t it happen when we were younger? We feel such a connection now. We could lament the years we could have been friends but have chosen instead to celebrate the fact that, even later in life, one can make a very close friend.

  5. Marian says:

    Wow, you have done a lot of reconnecting, Laurie, and I admire you for it. I’m glad you have recovered so many valuable connections! Zoom has helped a lot this year, hasn’t it? I have gotten to know people in my poetry group a lot better because we can meet more frequently. For more than 20 years I’ve been a member of a tiny synagogue (more like a Chavurah), and many people have retired or moved away. Now, they are back at services on Zoom, and that’s been an unexpected upside of this pandemic.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Marian, this may be the good side of Zoom. We are just about to do a session with Fred’s sisters. I still long for real life interactions, but am glad we have found this new way to maintain connections that we have let lapse in the time we have been so isolated.

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    Wonderful to have such a group with shared experience over the years, ever changing and growing. May you have many more moments to share with each other, and may relationships deepen when they need to.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Thanks Khati. After almost a year of isolation, do have a much deeper appreciation for our past history. I can’t wait for some of the simple things to return, like being able to see my grandkids in person and give then an actual hug. Took too much for granted in my pre-pandemic life.

  7. I love that quote…had it on my wall for quite a while.

    Okay, I definitely have Zoom envy, Laurie…but I don’t belong to any groups. Well, two small ones, and one of those is our admin team. Even my family doesn’t Zoom…we do FaceTime for birthdays but that’s as visual as we get these days. I guess I could start a group, but nothing could compare to catching up with people you have so much history with. I love how your relationship with Marcia has evolved…how wonderful that you can both appreciate it now.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Barb, I give Zoom mixed reviews. I guess it’s better considering the alternative is not “seeing” people I love. It works fine for smallish groups but not so great with more folks, especially if they don’t get Zoom etiquette on forget to mute themselves if they receive a phone call or have an extraneous conversation on the side. As far as Marcia goes, I am so lucky we connected when we did.

  8. You and I have learned that it’s never too late to make good friends, Laurie. So lucky!

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