Our middle child, Elijah, graduates from High School in a couple of weeks. We are not young bunnies, as my mother would say. Before I sat down with my son last week with the intention of helping him address a few graduation announcements, I pulled out a nearly thirty-year old address book that I received upon my own high school graduation. As I turned the pages of this well-worn little green book, memory upon memory invaded my mind. I couldn’t help myself, being the sentimental mama, breaking into another round of tears while sitting next to my confused six-foot giant son wondering what he did wrong. Seeing the names of my past jump off the pages of this handy book while thinking about sending off my second baby was WAY too much for this particular moment.
I never quite graduated to the digital address book like most of my peers, you see. I still refer to the little green address book when I send out Christmas cards…well, that is, when I still sent out Christmas cards. I referred to this little green book when I sent out wedding invitations to MY own wedding. This little book has traveled with me to college in Oklahoma, to Oregon on our first big married move, to Texas for grad school, to Michigan for more church work, to giant Houston, and then to Pennsylvania where we find ourselves currently situated. It’s pages are falling out and more address have been crossed out than kept as most of my contacts have moved over the years and I’ve neglected to keep up. The names remain.
There are names from all over the place and not just the U.S. Over the years I’ve collected Canadians, Germans, Ukrainians and added them to my little book.
My grandparent’s addresses are in the little green address book as are my husband’s. All of our grandparents have now gone home to Jesus, yet their addresses and names are there. Our parents are of course in the book. His have stayed in one place. Mine have moved a bit, but I do actually have their corrected address.
Old high school friends are listed in my book; some whom I never spoke to after graduation day and some who (thanks to Facebook) are back in my life again. I was just texting my friend Kara tonight. She’s in my book, and her address is also incorrect.
College friends fill the pages; all with their first apartment addresses. Now, most are in house number two and many are likely also addressing high school graduation announcements about now.
There are a ton of old church friends between the pages; elders and wives, youth group parents, friends. My son was particularly dumbfounded when I read through those people. It went something like: “dead, moved, dead, dead, awww they were so great, moved, divorced, oh what happened to them????, dead…divorced…deeaaaad?…no that guy IS still alive, well God bless that guy!”
After a big sigh from my son and tap, tap tapping of his pen, “Now that we’ve covered all the dead people in your book, can we please just address these dumb announcements?”
Page one of my little green address book has my daughter’s four year old script where she listed her phone number as 1234870292133. This made me cry harder and made poor Elijah just lay his head on the table in frustration. I took a breath and returned to the duty at hand.
It doesn’t feel like it has been twenty-eight years since I first wrote my name in the front of this little book. I can still see the faces attached to these names and places. I still feel the feelings of what it was to be with those people IN some of those places. I can still see my little girl writing her number down so carefully so I wouldn’t forget.
Life is a vapor. (James 4:14)
People are more than names on a page, and I want you to know that if you made it into my little green book, you meant something to me and my life. You helped me grow. I always remind my kids that often people are like waves, they come in for a bit and go back out. Waves are always changing and shifting like that. But you, my little green book friends, were attached to a precious memory; a passing moment that I wish I could have back for a bit, but I also wish I could update your address.
I’m still not ready to transition to a digital address book. You can call me old, hand me a cane and get my smelling salts. That’s just the way it is going to be. There’s just something to writing your names down and carrying them with me from place to place.
I did replace the little green book with a little blue book today. It was time. I kept the page with my daughter’s number and tucked it into the blue book, but I am letting the other pages go. It’s a graduation of sorts. It is time for new names, new friends, and new family members. I’ve rewritten a lot of the original names and updated to current addresses, if I have them, just to hang onto you for a bit longer in my new little book. Know that when I see your name, I smile and say a little thanksgiving prayer.