by Viga Boland, author of “The Ladies of Loretto”
Well the highly anticipated LORETTO COLLEGE 100th REUNION has come and gone in its 101st year!
You know how it is! John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans”. Well I wasn’t the huge Beatles’ fans that my classmates were back in the 60’s (the era in which my book, “The Ladies of Loretto” took place) but I’ve got to hand it to John on this one: life is indeed what happens when you’re making other plans!
Take this May 14th Centennial celebration for instance:
Most of you know, I think, that the organizers behind this Loretto College 100th celebration originally planned this event for September 2015…the centenary year for Loretto College Schools. But life got in the way…or rather, a possible teachers’ strike disrupted plans. That actually turned out okay as it gave organizers more time to locate former alumni. And what a turnout was realized this past Saturday, May 14, 2016: some 300-400 Loretto ladies (with a few brave husbands in tow) came out to this event.
The gorgeous atrium and cafeteria walls were filled with more chatter and squeals of delight than I’ve heard since I left teaching. Former classmates kissed and hugged each other and pretended not to notice the wrinkles and increased waistlines. They enjoyed scrumptious deli sandwiches and sang “Blue is the Flag” after Mayor John Tory left them in stitches. They walked around looking at walls of graduation photos over the years, asking each other what had become of this classmate and that one.
And where was I in all this? Well, I was snagged in John Lennon’s definition of life: I’d come to the reunion keen to reconnect with former classmates, but also hoping to sell off the remaining 60 printed copies of “The Ladies of Loretto”. But life obviously had other plans for me! For one, the Google Maps route I’d carefully studied the day before was useless on the big day because the Gardiner Expressway was closed from Hwy 427 east. I took their suggested alternative and got so stuck in traffic, that my intended arrival around 2:45 was delayed to 3;15, by which time all parking spots were gone and I had a load of books to cart to the atrium downstairs. Oh, did I mention that my bladder was bursting after 2 hours on the road from Hamilton? By the time I found my way to the atrium and located a washroom, I was one big, frustrated, uncongenial mess!
After relieving myself, I put my smile back on and joined in the chatter and laughter, all the while wondering why my feet felt strange. Upon inspection I discovered the comfortable old sandals I’d found in my closet, and had unfortunately decided to wear, were disintegrating with each step I took! I was leaving pieces of me all over the Loretto cafeteria and atrium floors.
Thoroughly embarrassed and feeling much like that weird kid who populated the pages of “The Ladies of Loretto”, I gave up walking around. I sat glued miserably in my chair at the back of the cafeteria (just like I used to sit at the back of the classroom) but this time hoping someone would notice me and my books. If I could sell even 10 books I could spring for a new pair of sandals.
Just when I was thinking of giving up, packing up my books, and somehow tip-toeing out of there in my crumbling sandals, a voice asked me:
“Are you the one selling the Loretto book?”
A gorgeous, much younger and very much slimmer Lady of Loretto wearing designer clothes and 6-inch rhinestone(?)-studded heels was flipping the pages of “The Ladies of Loretto.”
“That’s me!” I responded, jumping up and losing the last bit of the sole of my right sandal. I bent down trying to pick it up.
“Oh good! We’ve all been looking for you.” She stopped, concerned, and looked at me. “Is something wrong with your foot?”
“Actually, my shoe,” I apologized as I retrieved the crumbled bit of sole. “My sandals have, um, fallen apart,”
“Oh dear!” she smiled, calling over some friends. “Hey girls! I found her and she needs new sandals. Let’s help her buy some. Come get a book!”
I felt like “Heidi” in that Grade 9 class over 50 years ago but consoled myself with the thought, that while I didn’t have diamonds on the soles of my now sole-less shoes, I did have, as Mary Ward had wanted for us all, the strength to face whatever life threw at me. After all, I am a Lady of Loretto.
©Viga Boland, author, The Ladies of Loretto.
On a side note: I ended up donating 20 books to the school before I left, and at this point, have 21 printed copies left for those Ladies of Loretto who don’t yet have one. If you know one who’d like a signed, printed copy, please send her over to my website STORE at http://www.vigaboland.com/store No future printed copies will be available once these are sold. Thanks.