Don't wait for funerals to have those reunions for family and friends.

Grassy Park High Teachers of Yesteryear posing with Marcia Woolward, the current Head.  In front: Clive Stadler, the former principal of GPHS.

Funerals always become default reunions. Yesterday we had the same experience when we paid our last respects to our dear lifelong friend, Tony Sasman.

After the funeral service, we attended the traditional tea. The atmosphere in the hall was electric. The spirit of camaraderie percolated the entire space. There were conversations in every corner. Family  and friends were hugging and kissing.   Now and then you heard an excited shriek as two friends or relatives saw each other.  Cameras were in overdrive. Everybody was taking pictures of small and large groups.

Debbie and I. In the background is Cally De Waal, Roy Titus and  Charlie Steyn.

My ex-colleagues of Grassy Park High School and I were in seventh heaven. I saw Debbie, my friend who made my wedding dress, for the first time after almost twenty years! We reminisced about the days when we taught together at Grassy Park High. We laughed about our  silliness and our own quirky sayings like " Your house, your mouse, your problem." This famous saying was uttered by our rather quiet colleague, Wattie, who was asked to get rid of a mouse in Marianne's house.

Grassy Park veteran teachers.

Another memory was about Vernon and other rookie teachers who were going on their first GP annual bus trip.  During the rush of the morning, somebody told Vernon and his circle that they should meet us at the library.  When it was time to leave, Vernon and the others were nowhere to be seen. Eventually we decided to leave without them.  We thought they had decided to have their own little outing. Just as the bus was about to depart, we saw Vernon and his group speed walking down the road towards the bus. They had gone to wait for us at the Grassy Park public library instead of waiting outside our school library! ( Sorry, Cuz Vernon; I just had to share this one.)

From left: Wendy Abrahams (our diva), Royston Pillay, Sharon  Lewin and Venessa Berry

I am sure you have similar experiences at your incidental reunions. Reunions usually unearth all those pleasurable, life-enhancing memories we created together with friends and family. These memories flood our consciousness and almost involuntarily, we gush with happiness. Often the folk at these reunions will remark that they should get together soon because they enjoyed their time together.

Current staff at GPHS. Shirley Chapman and Timothy Mel (far right) posing with Mrs Pool (striped jersey) and GP student.

Alas! soon after the funeral service the warm fuzzy feelings vanish and the resolve to meet also dissipates into the mist. Are funerals really the only platform that can bring family and friends who have a connection together?  If reunions are such powerful spiritual and emotional well-being channels, we should commit to using this medium to connect with our loved ones.

Clive Stadler, the former Head of Grassy Park High School and me, Sharon Lewin

We shouldn't wait for someone to pass on or for one individual to take the responsibility to make reunions happen. Each one of us should commit to being a relationship-builder.  Building and nurturing healthy relationships is teamwork.  If we don't actively help to build family and friendship networks, then we are part of the social collapse that we quickly blame others for.

Kevin D'Allende and Jan Fred, two GPHS veterans.

 Life is complicated and so are relationships. I know asking us to be the initiator of connection is not that simple, but we have no excuse not to actively restore our relationships, especially with family.  We can take small steps. We can, for example, set a time limit to the reunion gathering. Or, write a letter, buy a gift voucher or tickets to see films or sport matches. The important lesson is that we should make it happen.

Shall we try to restore our relationships with friends and family again? And if we tried a trillion times before, shall we just try again and again?

Let's go for it and let us know what worked for you.


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