Hi! All of you wonderful friends of the Class of '58 . . .
My biggest news is that I will be starting a new phase in my life --------- I'm retiring!!! -------- After 28 years of working as a medical technologist at St. Vincent's Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock. It's probably one of the most worrisome decisions of my life, but it is TIME. Time to shuck the stabilizing, but stress-filled, schedule of the medical world and spread my wings in different directions. I think the best part will is that I will not have to adhere to a strict schedule and work weekends and holidays, but I will miss the people.
Many of you who were at the 40th Reunion met my husband, Bill. He and I married in July 1994, the month after my daughter's wedding. One wedding was quite enough for that year, so we "ran off" to Dallas to marry. I couldn't ask for a better blended family ----- with Bill's children, Chris, the computer guru, Stephanie, the med tech (I wrote her recommendation for the school) and Jeff, the medical head hunter who has gone back to school to finish his degree (and has the most beautiful blue-green eyes you've ever seen) and my two, Leslie, the brilliant, beautiful "apple of my eye", and Jeff, who lives somewhere in the L.A. area and in our hearts and memory, since he chooses not to have a relationship with us. We have seven wonderful grandchildren.
Also at the 40th reunion, I think Bill found a compadre when he met Donnie Green ------ they both graduated from T.U.! Bill's high school class of 57 (also Tulsa) is very much like our class ------- they love to swing dance and do the "Arkansas push". They are quite active with reunions on the decade and birthday parties every 5 years in between. I've gotten to know them almost as well as you guys. Their last birthday party was actually a Caribbean Cruise. It was a blast!!
Bill will probably never really retire; he loves being a building and remodeling contractor and always seems to have several projects going on at a time. In between projects, "we" have lots to do around the house. One of those projects, being the addition of a sunroom and a larger master bath off of our bedroom, resulted in a fall from a six-foot ladder, which destroyed his ankle. It was Mothers' Day weekend when Leslie and her husband, Garrett, and my grandson, Bryan, were visiting. Garrett had to piggyback Bill into the main part of the house. No boring, ordinary holidays around our house! Unfortunately (?), Garrett is an OB-GYN doc in the Dallas/Plano area and Leslie is an intensive care Pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Dallas ------ so, we had to cart Bill off to the ER for Orthopedic care. There the kids said their good-byes and took off for Dallas. Since all the broken bones and "pieces" were still lined up somewhat, Bill elected to have a compression cast put on his foot and leg instead of surgery with pins holding everything together. Believe it or not, in spite of the pain and inevitable arthritis, Bill can still "cut a rug" with me at times!
Barbershop singing is still very much part of our lives. Both of our choruses consist of wonderfully upbeat people of all ages, who love four-part harmony and the joy it brings. We love the on-going learning process and the performances and sometimes our groups sing together ---------- one time being right after 9-11 in a patriotic show, of which our rendition of "America the Beautiful" was cut on a CD with other Arkansan performers, the sale proceeds of which went to families of 9-11 victims.
9-11, also, has another significance for me -------- Olivia Nicole Garner (Leslie's daughter) was born the day after, on the 12th. I was driving to Dallas for her birth in absolute tears all the way, listening to the radio about all the aftermath of this tragedy. Then, experienced the life-affirming birth of my granddaughter, which I really needed at the time. Life is just full of paradoxes, isn't it?
Now, back to retirement: Bill and I will be celebrating my retirement by going to Cancun and staying on the Mayan corridor for a few days. Since Bill speaks Spanish fluently, we have spent a lot of time in Mexico/Central America and have participated in our Church's on going mission to Trujillo, Honduras; we will probably continue to do so. We, also, love Destin, Charleston, New Orleans in the fall, and would like to go back to San Francisco, where one particular highlight was seeing "Phantom of the Opera" at the old historical Opera House -------- Incredible!! Orlando is fun, too, and we have a Vistana time-share condo that originates there. We bought it on a whim
one year when my Sweet Adeline chorus, Top of the Rock, was competing in the international competition there. It's a very flexible plan with so many possibilities ----- plus, we want to take the kids to Disney World and all the other "Worlds" down there! However, this next summer of 2004 I would like to use it to go Hawaii. Both of us love good movies, live entertainment (presently have tickets to "Lion King" in Memphis and "Spirit of the Dance") and people we meet when we travel. I hope in retirement: I can visit our children in Dallas more ---- read more (love John Grisham books, historical novels, and presently reading Hiliary Clinton's book and "Sea Biscuit" ---- exercise more with walking, aerobics, and yoga ---- learn to really speak Spanish and become more involved with the Hispanic population as Bill is ---- volunteer more, especially involving hunger and/or homelessness ----- learn more about gardening, landscaping, photography, and computers ----- let Bill teach me how to fish, since he likes it so much ----- and perhaps take up golf again with Bill, since his tennis career was ruined after his fall off the ladder! And, oh yes ----- ride off into many more sunsets in my burgundy Sebring convertible (I really love this car!!)
I apologize for going on and on, because it seems this is more of a written confirmation to myself of why I am retiring than it is a bio. Some day I'll write about LBB (life before Bill), but since right now I kinda' plan on Bill being my last husband, I think he would rather read this version!
Anyway, there are a lot of good memories with our Class of 58. In the sentiment of one of my favorite songs: May God "raise you up on eagle's wings" (He can, you know) and "hold you in the palm of His hand."
Hasta Luego, Mis Amigos
Jo Lynne "Newsum" Ragan - 2003