FRAILTIES

Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

Fifty four-years had passed since I last saw classmates Alice and Jim, but Alice and I had recently emailed. While she was in town for another reunion in October, I drove her to Peggy’s home for a Girls of ‘62 lunch potluck and sharing.

While she was in town for another reunion in October, on Tuesday I had driven her to Peggy’s home for a Girls of ‘62 lunch potluck and sharing.

L to R: Alice, Sandy B. and Peggy

L to R: Alice, Sandy B. and Peggy

Thursday afternoon, Alice

surprised me with a call. “Do you have time to get together?”

I grinned at the phone. “Sure!” I’d like to know Alice better! In high school, she was “the smart one.” Slender and soft-spoken, Alice always smiled, but I didn’t approach her. She’s so good at everything. What could we talk about?

Meeting her, I carried our yearbook under one arm as we ordered coffee. Still petite but no longer brunette, Alice chose a well-used wood table and chairs.

I said, “Tell me more about your life after high school.”

She nodded. “I started out at Goshen College ….” Alice unfolded getting a Master’s Degree before traveling with her husband, having her first child in Prague and following a career as an elementary school counselor. Her lips turned up on both sides when she added, “I went back to school for additional education courses in my 40s.”

Among muted voices of other coffee-drinkers, Alice sipped her “flat white” while I unfolded my story. She showed a genuine interest in me, and I touched a deep place inside. I felt small. “Why have I been spared the terrible tragedies I’ve seen others endure?” There’s nothing special about me.

Tears came to my eyes. In my mind, I heard God’s answer: I have a plan for you.

Self-conscious, I dabbed at my wet eyes. “I know God has a plan for me … I just don’t know what it is, so I just keep going. And waiting to feel a nudge.

I checked my watch. 5:30. Alice’s coffee mug was empty. I had told her husband I’d deliver her to a restaurant two blocks away at 5:45.

As we walked, Alice pointed changes she recognized.

Passing a beauty-shop-once-Weatherbird-shoe-store, she pointed. “I remember a machine they had in that store. I could see the bones in my feet!”

I had looked at my own toes there and nodded. “That probably wouldn’t be legal now!”

We shared a laugh.

I stopped at Constant Spring. “See? I told you it was on an alley.” She looked down the narrow, paved strip. Following her glance, I saw two people coming toward us.

As I stood outside with Alice, people congregated. I turned to say goodbye. “Well thanks …”

Alice held up a hand. “Wait.” She nodded toward the approaching couple. “You’ll know one of these people.”

I doubt it.

A tall dark-haired man and pretty brunette woman walked closer. Squinting, I recognized neither.

I looked back at Alice, the question “who?” in my eyes.

She grinned. “You remember Jim Gingerich!”

I guess! Our class’s golden- boy-basketball star!

Puzzled, I frowned. “I thought he lived overseas.”

About then, the pair reached us. Alice said to Jim, “Do you know who this is?”

Rather embarrassed, I put on an I-Love-Lucy act: grinning, I held up both hands, fingers apart and blinked.

When Jim said nothing, I tipped my head. “It’s Fritzie! Fritzie Ridenoure!”

Still basketball-slender, Jim said, “I remember you! Our senior year, you came out to our farm ….”

The pretty woman said, “I heard that story!”

I didn’t and shook my head.

Jim said, “Four of us were in a skit for Miss Zook’s Senior English.”

I nodded. I took that class.

Grinning, Jim continued. “I had missed the other practice. You drove out to be sure I got to the one that afternoon.”

I wagged my head. Skit? Drove out?

Jim’s eyes twinkled. “You caught me working in the turkey barn!” The man turned his head side-to-side. “I gave Mother strict instructions to tell anyone who came by I was ‘not home.’”

He added, “You said, ‘You can’t miss this afternoon’s practice!’” Half-smiling he added, “You were wearing furs.”

Furs? I never owned any furs… Wait! Suddenly, I pictured the knobby winter coat and fuzzy hat he probably remembered. More than one male classmate had later said, “You looked ‘hot’ in that outfit.”

Holding a wry smile I said, “Not furs … I have a picture!”

Hauling out the yearbook, I located my Editor’s Page. My photographer suggested that picture.

Looking at it, I nodded, “Yeah, I was hot.”

1962: Fritzie in “furs”

1962: Fritzie in “furs”1962: Fritzie in “furs”

Quickly, I said goodbyes and turned back toward the coffee house and my car. On the outside, the encounter was harmless, but suddenly I was ashamed. I was so “real” with Alice. Ten minutes later, I acted like “Lucy” and called myself “hot!”

Rain spit. Upset at how easily I slipped back into my high school Fritzie-the-flirt persona, my steps were slow.

Stopping at a traffic light, I sighed. After years of working toward being “authentic,” I backslid.

Crossing the street, I felt low. I owe someone an apology. Who? Maybe myself.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Failure reminds me of my frailties.

Humbled, I again felt closer to God.

Frances Fritzie

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>