Looking at Big Changes

I wrote about the little changes that make you scratch your head. Then there are the big changes that snap your head back and cause you to gasp. I ran into a woman I hadn’t seen in maybe 10 years. She used to live in the neighborhood but had moved. We had been friendly acquaintances and our children were the same ages. I had stopped at Chick-fil-a to get my October Mystery Offer. It was busy and I was standing in a very long line. Suddenly I heard my name. I turned around and a stranger was smiling at me. I did NOT recognize this former neighbor. She looked to be 90 years old. Granted I’m a pretty good looking ‘almost 60 year old’ but I know she was slightly younger than me. She had had skin cancer on her face. The doctor had to remove most of her cheek and part of her nose and some of her ear. She looked like a burn victim. That on top of the osteoporosis made her shorter and bent over with a dowager’s hump. I was shocked. Even the dyed hair didn’t take any years off her appearance.

I know that external beauty doesn’t determine the value of a person. I try hard to look past physical appearances and see the heart and mind of the people I meet. But I have to admit this was really difficult to do in this case. I suppose it had more to do with the degree of change and that I hadn’t seen her recently. I am hesitant to go to any class reunions. Sparky’s HS has a monthly “reunion” for anyone having graduated before 1980. His sisters and brother have been urging him to attend. They rave about being able to catch up with classmates and others. But there is also a little bit of cattiness in gloating over the cheerleader with the face lift gone wrong…

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25 thoughts on “Looking at Big Changes

  1. I have never made a reunion, even the year I was back there. No one offered to take me or watch the 2 kids and I didn’t have the $12 for the luncheon any way. It still stings a little as my husband was overseas and the military had screwed with his hand carried pay records. Doubt I was missed. 🙂

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    1. I’ve gone to a couple but don’t have any reason to get together with them – it was a long time ago. There are a few I am still in contact with and the rest are strangers to me.

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  2. Wow. That’s some pretty serious skin cancer. All the skin cancer victims I know about had small surgeries. I feel badly for her.
    I’ve skipped all my high school reunions thus far. Don’t really see a reason to change my stance on that. The people I would want to see can be seen outside of a loud party. No thanks.

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    1. Yeah. She said that she thought it was a rash but it didn’t go away and she put off going to the doctor. It wasn’t until it was bothering her ear where her glasses sat that she made an appointment. The doctor wanted to take a biopsy but she didn’t want her regular doctor to do it and instead waited 2 months to get into the dermatologist. It was pretty big by then. The first surgery was not very extensive but the lab indicated they hadn’t cut deep enough and had left cancer behind. She had to have another surgery (much more radical) and still didn’t get it all. All together she had 4 surgeries to remove the cancer and another one for reconstruction. She ended up doing radiation too. She is a walking advertisement for early detection and sunscreen.

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      1. A lady I worked with in the ’80’s had skin cancer surgery — she retired immediately afterwards, and later was reported to have said that she had no idea how disfiguring the surgery would be. It’s always important to catch skin cancers early!

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      2. Amen to that. You would think that with all the advances in cosmetic surgery the consequences of cancer on the face wouldn’t be so noticeable. Guess she wasn’t an unusual a case.

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  3. Our 50th was fun — a cocktail party at a member’s home, and a dinner at a country club the next night. This year is our 60th — last weekend, I believe — the weekend was a get together at a bar and a picnic in the park. Not anything anybody would travel for, particularly those from the East Coast! Sad planning!

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    1. Yup. That was the case with one of my co-workers. She had her 15th class reunion and they met at a bar/restaurant. The only people who showed up were those in town. No one wanted to spend big money to fly in for a 3 hour bar food meal…

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      1. At least I had plenty of excuses not to go, what with all the medical appointments and the house to deal with — a 5-hour trip each way over a weekend would not have worked well!

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      2. Excuses or no – you are probably better off not going. A long drive to eat bar food wouldn’t be worth it – no matter how good the company! I’m glad your medical issues are going along on schedule. Is the re-piping of the condo done yet?

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      3. The condo was re-piped last week — still needs to be painted and one hole didn’t get patched last week. What a mess, although I have to say the guys did an excellent job of cleaning up!! Wednesday and Thursday they cut the holes and did the piping, then Friday and Monday the patching and painting — then I get to put it all back together!

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      4. Thanks — it’s supposed to be finished tomorrow when the painters have painted the patches. I have built a list of issues, though, so it may end up being Tuesday before I’m done!

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  4. Big changes can happen slowly or all at once. Sounds like this was the rapid kind. I’m sure it’s been a painful adjustment for your former neighbor.
    Reunions are outside of my experience. Sounds like I’m not missing much.

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    1. I don’t know if the change was fast or slow for her but it was a total shock for me. As for high school class reunions. Seems any more that most of the attendees are the sad folk who want to relive “the best years of their lives” which for me were NOT my HS years!

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    1. Hehe! Yes, that’s how I’ve felt about the HS reunions. As for skin cancer I’m hyper aware since I have fair skin and am prone to sunburn. My dad had several skin cancers removed and it was lucky they were caught early.

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  5. I feel so sorry for your friend/neighbour. being disfigured because of surgical procedures is a major problem in a society that is so conscious of looks and that is also litigious. I have seen some plastic surgery patients who have looked not too different from what you have described. All hell breaks loose then.

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    1. Although she looked so very different, when talking to her, her attitude was one of being grateful she was alive. I think they are still monitoring her for metastases. It is a sad situation.

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  6. I think your reaction was normal given the fact that you had no idea she was a cancer survivor, or that her treatment had been so brutal. I’m glad you did connect with her, though, as I bet she needed it. As for reunions, I avoided them when I was younger, for the reasons you stated. But once I got to be middle age (and then some), I went. And I was glad I did. At that age, we were past the comparisons and cattiness and just enjoyed talking with people who knew us “back when.” It made me with we had been that accepting of each other when we were in high school, but I guess we weren’t mature enough for it at the time.

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    1. I went to a very small county school – my graduating class was 263 students. And I had known most of them since 1st grade! Most of them stayed in the area whereas I left. The few times I’ve run into them when visiting my mother was more, “hmm. So you don’t look familiar but I’m supposed to know you…” instead of a “OMG it has been so long! Let’s do lunch and catch up!” As for my former neighbor, it just magnifies the feeling that changes happen fast when you are out of touch.

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