Our guest blogger, Lynne Roche Matthews, grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio and went on to study at Kent State University. After college, she worked in the hospitality industry for over 29 years. She moved to upstate New York in 1990 and became Vice President for the motorcoach tour & charter company she and her late husband owned until retiring to Punta Gorda, Florida in 2001. She now spends her time volunteering for the yacht club, chairing the PR & Marketing Committee, and the annual Bridal Expo. She also is active in city politics, serving on the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. In her spare time, she loves to go boating, read, travel and shop. AND, she just got married this past Saturday and looks forward to many new life adventures with her new husband.
Thanks to my High School Reunion, I reconnected with Lynne after 40 years. And, by the way, if you’re going to a reunion any time soon, just pray you have someone like uber-planner, Lynne, running your event. This woman knows how to have fun! After our reunion, I asked Lynne to write a blog post about her experience locating all our classmates and what it all meant to her. Here is her story.
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to chair my 40th high school reunion, reconnecting with so many great friends that I had lost contact with back in the day. It was truly an inspirational weekend after planning it for almost two years. I got on the plane to return home to Florida, only to see one of my classmates, Annice, who had also been at the party, so we sat together on the flight and talked non-stop for a couple of hours. It was great fun just catching up with each others lives. So she told me about this blog she started with some friends of hers, and one thing led to another…well you know how these things happen.
When asked to write a blog for Oops50, I started thinking of all the things I could write about. I’ve often thought about writing a book about some of the crazier things in my life, but I just never had enough time to do ii…ah yes, TIME. That evil four letter word. If only I had TIME. It made me think of something that really stood out in my mind, something that I wish I had made the time for.
When I first started working on the reunion a couple of years ago, I discovered a classmate (Roberta) who lived just 5 miles from me, here in Florida. So after almost 40 years, here we were, almost 1000 miles from where we grew up, living the good life in sunny Florida. After a couple of months of knowing she was so close, I called her one day (it blew her away), we laughed, we cried and found each other again.
I had already found another one of my BFF’s from high school (Barb) just a few miles away, and she and I have gotten together frequently over the past 10 years to have lunch every month or two. So we made arrangements for the three of us to meet for lunch. Here’s where the “if only” comes in.
Roberta announced to me she had just come through a rather intense session of chemo, having a rough round with ovarian cancer. What a true trooper she was, braver than most, and she was doing well. Sporting a beautiful wig and her ever present smile, she arrived, nervous as all get out, but we quickly settled in for a wonderful lunch and conversation. We did the same thing several other times since, hooking up with other classmates I found nearby (there are 17 of us here in SW Florida), and had a wonderful time reconnecting everyone.
There was to be a group dinner with spouses back in late winter of 2011, and she opted out, saying her husband was out of town on business. And then she cancelled out on a girl’s day lunch. Well I think you know where THIS is going. I had a bad feeling, but I just didn’t follow up on it. And then I got the call from her husband…she had succumbed to that evil disease in May. I hated myself for not doing what I knew I should have done, but I also know she wouldn’t want anyone to dwell on the illness. She kept it very private, and that’s the way she wanted it. But it was way too soon to see her go, and I will always second guess myself for not doing better at keeping in touch.
I’ve mourned the loss of my dear friend, Roberta, and not a day goes by that I don’t regret waiting to get in touch with this beautiful, kind soul. It just proves that there’s no time like the present – don’t leave this place we call earth with any regrets, and don’t wait to reach out to those who mean something to you.
If only I had started sooner, I would have had more time to spend with her, and maybe, just maybe I could have helped her get through the times when she really needed me to be there for her. I know she loved that we reconnected, and she loved the time we spent together. I just wish there had been more of those times. So RIP sweet Roberta – I will miss your beautiful smile always, and I’ll see you on the other side. Dance like no one’s watching ladies – you never know what’s around the corner!