A Patriot Reflects….

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Just over 20 years ago on June 11th, 1994; 212 students said goodbye to Patriot Hall and “Hello” to the real world.   Students from a rural Indiana location right along the White River, we’re compiled together to learn the basics to rule the world.  Not just the studies to enhance our minds, but the relationships that helped to mold who we became.  Whether we had active parents or absent parents, a void seemed met when we walked into those school doors.

Recently we were called together again for a reunion of old. Old friendships,  old memories to even old rivalries;  all to celebrate the progress we’ve made in life,  speak of dreams met, and challenges faced.  A commonality that no other group can share, we are the 1994 Patriots, and this was our family reunited.

I witnessed an array of reactions and reunions that day; some common like those that have always kept on touch.   Some loud expressions of excitement to see a face again appreciate from our past (I actually had a few of those!!).  The conversations rolled on all night, clicks revised, teammates reliving their glory, mommies and daddies share their stories of new, some wishing their relationships could be renewed.

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A tale of two Taylors:  one named the “Flash” for no one was able to catch him in a dash.  A man who is unique, hard-working, and still built pretty sporty for a man nearing age 40 (within a few years)!  The other, one who wished to be within the sport; yet was left with even still his gut dragging down the court. 😉  Two men with a same last name, renewing a brotherly respect that will be grounded for years to come.

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All the pretty ladies….all the pretty ladies….lol  I was never a ladies man in high school.   I don’t think I had the confidence to ever try to be.  Sure, I had good girlfriends and some that kinda scared me….however my ultimate viewpoint of them was ultimately unattainable.   I had my envy moments and my embarrassing moments around them all; but I believe it took me growing up emotionally and spiritually to value them for more than a pretty face.   Don’t get me wrong,  there are many gorgeous classmates I have, a fee to be seen above, but ultimately I love all these ladies for who they’ve become, not what my teenage hormones tried to tell me about them!  😉

Successful, talented, intelligent, ladies that are in their own way, being used for the purposes of our Heavenly Father whether they know it or acknowledge it.  They have a purpose, and it was an HONOR to be around them again and call them my family.

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Then there’s my buddy forever Colette.  The name alone should ring uniqueness;  the cheesy grin should speak silliness.  She was my tough as nails teammate for little league basketball.   That’s right, she played with da boys!  First a cheerleader then an example maker of the liberating stand young women are making all over the world today.   Yeah, I had the hots for her….but her dad, my little league coach for “Ed’s Body shop”, he was Ed.  A short, but tatted up, biker lookin stud that made me nervous to be around as a young boy.  I knew that she was not to mess with!  Now, 20 years later….I love her as a little (pun intended–*grin) sister I never had. 🙂

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My first ever date!!! 🙂  Ms. Angie Mason and I graced the historic Tivoli, where we both were dropped off by our parents and picked up afterward.  Don’t ask me the movie because I don’t remember;  I was too NERVOUS!  Always special,  unique in the path that God has chosen for her and strength displayed through her physical challenges.   She is an inspiration for anyone who believes they can’t. Love ya sis; thanks for being the best first dare a guy could ask for! 🙂

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We started on a rooftop of the school entryway and ended up Student Body Treasurer (me) and I believe Vice President (Amy).  She was the pretty, mostly kept to herself, smarty pants. 😉 lol. She and I came to k ow one another the most that year, but non-chalontley drifted to causal hall-mates.  Looking back on it all after seeing her again recently I wish I would have tried harder.  Amy not only is a beautiful woman now, but a happily successful and talented woman.  As much as it blessed my heart to visit with her as we did and seem to bond so well, it makes me sad such time has passed where a deeper relationship could have been there.  Thank the Lord though we reconnected now and I hope the rest of our time knowing each other we stay connected. …if anything for some more of her KICK BUTT homemade salsa!! 🙂

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What could I say about this lady?  We’ve been blessed to have reconnected around 4 years ago when my daughter had a doctor’s appointment in Bloomington and there she was! 🙂  My family had always known her family and Tiffany and I were casual buddies at school I’d say.  But our renewed friendship after that doctor’s appointment was a real blessing.  My wife and her hit it off as well did I with her cool hubby Jeremy.  And we’ve kept in decent touch since.  I must say I’ve grown to love this girl a lot and she is truly like a sister to me.  If you couldn’t tell…. 😉 lol

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The wall flower, the under-the-radar, the quiet as a mouse, the corner cozy….whatever you’d call her, her always sweet whisper and bright smile made you want to engage more.   Then when you did and your conversation lengthened,  you’d have a greater chance to hear her perfect Minnie Mouse giggle. 🙂  She seemed to be a girl all guys wanted to know more about, but many didn’t seem to pursue.   I was one of them;  getting to know more about her later in life and even now made me realize how much of a wonderful person she is.  My prayer is the joy I experienced seeing her come more out of her shell in front of her classmates,  hugging her tightly more than once,  and seeing the same gorgeous smile and giggle will forever continue.  She is to me, the most precious lady that I want to know even more.   I LOVE YOU MY BEAUTIFUL FRIEND….Ms. Rayann Cooper. 🙂

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My final person of focus had been a focus of my heart since I was in Kindergarten.   It’s funny,  even trying to reminisce about my feelings for her causes a weird childlike chill.  She was considered my one true desire.  The “NO Chance in Hell” (to quote a favorite WWE catch phrase) girl.  This was definitely proven to be true and that is wonderfully God’s will for me and lucky for her ;-).  I wasn’t “crazy” about her per-se, I just adored her.  She is talented,  sweet, pretty, kind, etc.  All that a young high school dreamed of.  Notice I said “high schooler” because I didn’t understand the feelings I had in grade school….remember?  Girls were YUCK! 🙂

Anytime I was around her growing up I would clam up or try to overkill to be noticed even for a smile.  In an attempt for impressing her with my basketball skills, I’ll never forget playing a pick up game in the middle school and diving after a loose ball (which I NEVER dived) because she was on the other team.  I suffered my first broken ankle for it.  Needless to say I didn’t receive the sympathy I wanted from her. 😉  I gave her a “secret rose” in gym once; that didn’t turn our either as it was given back.  It wasn’t until we were Seniors that I finally didn’t creep her out….I think. 🙂

We dissected a cat together in Mr. Ranard’s class.  I couldn’t believe it at the time and from that point on, we’ve been friends at a level I have truly appreciated.  Though we are not close enough to keep in regular touch, knowing we have a friendship brought closure to my childlike fantasy.  Seeing her even at the reunion gave me a brief moment of butterflies, but I am so proud of who she has continued to be and the 4 beautiful kids she has with her real childhood love….who happens to be a Chad too. 🙂  To my sister in Christ and best girl to ever have as a crush, THANK YOU Darci Martin for being in my life and being my friend.

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Relationships changed in growth and respect; some relationships are reformed on a foundation of a Son we’ve commonly met.  All moments that define who we are and where we’ve come.

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No matter where we are all at, what path or lives have taken and even those who we love that weren’t able to make the reunion,  this family will never die.  Yes,  we remembered our loved ones lost and I was humbled and honored to do that.  Staying close as a family is vitally important so we will all know we are loved,  accepted and whole.  We don’t want to lose anyone else from our family,  but that is God’s will and timing,  not our own.  So make the most of it and stay in touch….no matter how or when….let’s not miss out of these remembrances again!

I love you ALL….Owen Valley Class of 1994.  Thank you for the memories.

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