2017, A Year of Reunions
I am writing about my year of reunions. Last year, I retired after 43 years in two careers. Since I have some free time on my hand, I wrote my autobiography. It took about 6 months to complete. In the process, I also remembered many past friendships and colleagues and memories. I decided to reach out to some old friends.
- Mar. 2017
The process is a random one. I did not plan it. It began with a chance discovery of an old colleague from IBM that past away. I happen to find an obituary of this colleague that I've lost touched with. I was sad and regretful that I didn't have a chance to say goodbye. This got me started on a quest to seek out other colleagues and organize a reunion dinner. The process took a little longer than I expected. I had left IBM in 2002 and since then, many colleagues have retired, or relocated and found new jobs. I was able to contact a few people which lead to more people. I used Linkedin and other social media and the IBM employee directory and found most of my former colleagues. In Aug. of 2017, we are planning a reunion dinner that includes spouses. We have about 50 people and a few that planned on FaceTime. I am looking forward to see them. In the process of finding and reconnecting, I discovered many have interesting careers post IBM.
My next idea was initiated by a former teammate. He had recently retired also and was volunteering his time with the CCNY Women's fencing team as an assistant coach. He reached out to me and ask for some help. To my surprise, I discovered the caliber of CCNY fencing has gone down hill. I decided drastic action is necessary. I started a proposal to raise funding for the team. I soon discovered it is not an easy task. I began by reaching out to some of my old teammates. We organized a reunion dinner in Chinatown this past February. It was great to see some that we have not seen in 40 years. We are all older, and heavier and still have a tremendous bond formed at CCNY.
My childhood friend Jimmy was a few years older than my brother and I. Growing up in Queens NY back in the 1960s, we were the only few Chinese families living there. We played ball together and went ice skating in Central Park every Saturday. Over the years, we grew apart and moved away. We kept touch in the beginning with annual Christmas cards but after some years, even that was discontinued. In the spirit of reaching out to old friends, I decided to write him a letter. Luckily, he was still living in the same address. He returned by sending me his phone number and email. We have reconnected and will soon be getting together for a dinner reunion. I forwarded the info to my brother who is living in the West coast now. They also reconnected and on a recent trip to LA, they got together with their spouses for dinner. It was a lovely reunion, after 30 years.
We reached out to our baby sitter from China. When my youngest son was born, we needed some extra help. My mother-in-law was living with us but she was too frail to help. She arranged for one of her friend's daughter in China to come as a lived-in nanny. She was very caring and took great care of my son and helped out around the house with choirs. My wife and I were both working and this was a tremendous relief. After about 5 years, she returned to China to help care for her own in-laws who are getting on in years. Over the next 20 years or so, she would call every New Year and on the birthday of our son. She was genuinely caring and we treated her like family. Recently, we found out from another friend of the family that her husband has passed away due to illness. We reached out to her and helped her with some financial support. It was something we needed to do and were glad to help in return.
My other IBM colleague from Kingston. Another colleague of my from the 1980s is from my years working in Kingston. We were in the same group and we both lived in Hyde Park. We would car pool together along with 2 other colleagues. It was a nice ride up the Taconic Parkway and we would talk about various topics. At lunch time, we would share our meals together and play some games. It was a great time working for IBM. After I transferred to Yorktown, we lost touch. He left IBM and relocated down South. We still exchanged Greeting cards yearly for a period. Later on, even that stopped. Recently, I decided to look him up. At first, I didn't have any success with the usual social media outlets. He was not engaged in the new digital world. I did find an email address which I thought might be him being his name is quite unique. On a whim, I decided to email him with an introduction. Within a short time, I got a reply and it was from his son. He recognized who I was and forwarded my note to his dad who I learned is retired and living in Florida. He had some medical issues a while back but is in good health now. I called him recently and had a nice chat. His speech is a little impaired from a stroke but otherwise he is alert. We reminesced about old times and caught up with recent family events. He will call me if he has a chance to come up North to visit his daughter now living in Boston. I am glad we were able to reconnect.
My CCNY Fencing Team
This year just happened to be the year of reunions for me and my family. I am glad I was able to reach out and locate many of them. I am grateful for LinkedIn and Facebook and other online tools . Finding people is not hard at all. I have learned a few tricks. It is very rewarding to reconnect with friends and colleagues after all these years.
Some Related Info
- How I Tracked Down an Old Friend
Modern technology never ceases to amaze me. The power of social media.
© 2017 Jack Lee