REUNITED AFTER 50 YEARS!
The book launch for “The Ladies of Loretto”, my tongue-in-cheek, whimsical, often funny, sometimes sad recollection of those teenage years as a student of Loretto Brunswick High School in Toronto went off without a hitch…well almost! I mean, it had to rain on my parade, didn’t it.
When I arrived and realized it was an outdoors affair on the beautiful grounds of the former convent, now condominium complex, my tummy did a little flip as I looked at the sky overhead: dark clouds were gathering. The forecast had called for rain. The air was muggy and I began breaking a sweat as I set up my display of books. It wouldn’t rain, would it? Please no.
Then folks started arriving and there was no time to think about the weather.
It was JoanAnne. After 50 years she looked incredible, hardly a day older. Slim. Elegant. Where were her wrinkles? No fair. Suddenly, I was Heidi again, looking at my classmates and envious of their looks, trim bodies, brains. I thought I’d left all that behind over the intervening 50 years as I grew from the victim of sexual abuse whose story I disclosed in “No Tears for my Father” into the woman readers met in “Learning to Love Myself.”
“Heidi! You haven’t changed at all! I’d recognize you anywhere!”
It was Lena. Only my name had changed. I hadn’t changed at all? Great! I needed to hear that. I hated that girl in Grade 9 at Loretto College School. I know Lena didn’t mean it in a negative way. I recognized her instantly too, but she had changed: slimmer, more attractive than I remembered, looking quite dapper in a smart leather beret. I swatted away a mosquito and hugged her, hoping my underarm deodorant was working in the humidity.
And so it went for a few more minutes: more and more classmates arriving along with nuns and students who attended Loretto after I left. The seats under the big tent filled. So did the skies…with more clouds. I glanced at the podium. Where I’d be standing, my back would be exposed to the elements. If I still prayed…I don’t…I would have been praying. Maybe I should have…
As the chaplain spoke about the “bright little lanterns” who had graduated from Loretto College School over the years, a little thunder crackled overhead, but the rain held off. Suddenly, she was introducing me as one of “our famous little lanterns” who had gone forth to shine a light into the world and be a voice for the voiceless. I did a double take and smiled at being called a “famous little lantern”. Me, famous? I wish! But when she said those words, “a voice for the voiceless”, my confidence soared. Yes, this geeky, insecure teen who’d attended Loretto College School in the early 60’s had indeed become a voice for the voiceless when she wrote “No Tears for my Father”. I happily took my place at the podium and delivered the talk you can watch in the video here:
Of course, as you see in the video, the skies opened before I was finished my talk. The lovely poster overhead dripped mercilessly down my back and my clothing was saturated right through to my underwear before someone thought to bring me an umbrella. But hey, I laughed and sang all the way to the end, and when my former classmates joined me singing the song we loved, “Blue is the flag of Loretto” my heart soared with happiness at being reunited after 50 years. It was a day I’ll never forget, and one that once again, makes me happy to have written “The Ladies of Loretto”.
I only hope now that former students from all years will find my book, read it and leave comments and their own stories on the Ladies of Loretto page on this site or beneath this blog post. The response to the idea of a sequel of memories by others who attended LCS was very positive. I’m willing to pull it together. But I need their input for a Ladies of Loretto #2. So, if you who are reading this are a former lady of Loretto, please share this post with your classmates and suggest they subscribe to this blog. Thanks!