Fifty Years: The Irony of Time

Fifty Years: The Irony of Time

“You make peace with your past by owning your piece of the past.” ~Andy Stanley

I suppose I could rely on the calendar this week and write something frothy about Mother’s Day.

But I attended two events this weekend that elbowed froth aside.


I returned to my high school campus in Baltimore, Maryland, for my graduating class’s Covid-delayed 50th reunion.

Let me preface what follows with this: I did NOT want to go. I did not want to go a LOT.

And I didn’t know why. I was a school leader and varsity athlete, liked by most, so what’s up with that?

Consequently, I had to go. To find out. And I missed the Kentucky Derby held at the same time of the dinner.


And then, to my surprise and delight, I had a fabulous evening.


Back to the campus for a Covid-delayed funeral of the former Headmaster of the school, a dear family friend for the same fifty years. My father had hired him; his name was mentioned many times during the service.

Listening to the words of tribute for Jack Ordeman, a man who made a real difference in the lives of thousands of students over the years, not to mention the many more who were not, reminded me, once again, of just how short a journey it is from the starting gate to the finish line, as well as the field with which you run.

We each run a race, of varying distances, carrying different loads, doing our best, or hoping we are doing our best, until suddenly it’s over.

There are days—months, years even—when the race seems longer than we can bear, that we can’t possibly continue, and then, a few feet from the finish we look over our shoulder, and just like that we realize how short the journey was, and that it’s time to account for the kind of race we ran.

Though head of an incredible school, Jack Ordemon was one who ran with the field, not in front of it. Humble, wise and a wicked good writer, he left a powerful legacy and a recipe for a successful life: “Do meaningful work in the company of others.”

Succinct simplicity.

Monday Reflections:

I find it remarkable that a seventeen-year-old’s face is still visible behind a seventy-year-old wrinkles. Especially when they smile.

And it is still a mystery to me how the mere mention of a dearly departed loved one’s name can bring back in a nanosecond the entirety of his race, or the main parts of it, the good parts, the parts that the cause your eyes to cloud even as your mouth turns upwards.

Irony: On Mother’s Day, I wept for my father and the thirty year hole in my heart he used to occupy.

Bittersweet is the journey to the past—if one has paid attention.

Great is the glory of the passing—if one has been willing to be accountable for the race results.

I’m grateful to have run with some mighty fine horses in my time.

“Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.” ~ William Wordsworth

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Cynthia Barlow

Founder Cynthia Barlow

Facilitator, Author, Coach

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