Jared Lankford: A short walk, 20 years back

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Once a month, on a Saturday, my mother has a lunch date.

She keeps this appointment with as much fervor and nearly as much reverence as her obligation to the Church on each first day of the week.


My mother gets ready, checks to make sure her newly acquired photos of the grandchildren are on her phone and heads off to eat lunch with nearly 20 of her friends that graduated together more than 53 years ago.

Both of my parents graduated in the same class from Seneca. In fact, my father is only 11 days older than my mother.

One thing that has always made a resounding impression upon my life is the way my parents have treated others and kept in close contact with their classmates for over half of a century.

Later this month, I will celebrate my 20th high school reunion with classmates who crossed the stage at Bob Anderson Stadium in Neosho on a perfect May 1999 evening.

Over the course of the last six months, it has been fun to watch as our group Facebook page has displayed the obligatory kid pictures, spouse pictures and listed a brief summary of where we are now.

With a class of more than 250 graduates, it was apparent to me in 1999 that graduation night would be the last time some of my class would see each other.

That thought became reality with the passing of a couple of classmates within three years of graduation night.

Part of journalism requires the writer to be a bit nostalgic. Often, we are called upon to relate current events with those of the past.

It has also been said that if the greatest events in your life occurred during your high school days, you haven’t lived a full life. I still believe that.

Yet, it is still important to have those events to reflect upon. After all, most of those individuals were with you through your most formative and impressionable years.

No matter how high we fly or far we go in life, we will always be from our own communities.

Whether it is sports, drama, military service or whatever path we chose for our life, we should always be proud of where we came from.

As my class assembles later this month, it should be a joyous occasion to catch up and renew friendships.

While it won’t become a monthly ritual for me, I can understand and appreciate why my mother blocks out one Saturday a month for her friends.

One can only hope that current graduates will take a moment to remember their roots no matter their path.

Our pre-secondary schooling seems like an eternity while enduring the experience, but then, one day, you see a reminder that it happened 20 years ago and that thought nearly takes your breath away.

Jim Stuart was one of my teachers at Neosho. I still see him on the coaching circuit. Last year, he was coaching at McAuley.

Mr. Stuart was memorable for several reasons, one of which was his positive demeanor.

When it rained, he reminded us that it was a great day to be a duck. As a Kansas State alumnus, he would say, “Gotta love that Purple,” when someone had on the school’s gear.

But, he was also fond of reminding us at Neosho that “It’s a great day to be Wildcat.”

My hope is that as life progresses, we can all say those were great days indeed.

Jared Lankford is the sports editor of the Cassville Democrat. He may be reached at sports@cassville-democrat.com or by calling 417-847-2610.

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