You Can't Go Home Again: Or Can You?

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 Home Again, Home Again....

As a teenager, it was never my choice to go to St Barnabas High School. My cousin Aileen, a year ahead of me, went there and didn’t have a good word to say about it. In fact, she would have transferred to Cathedral High had her parents let her, but the tuition at Cathedral was five dollars more per month. 

More importantly, all of my classmates graduating PS #14 in Yonkers were heading to Roosevelt High, a co-ed school. Naturally, I wanted to do the same. My father had other ideas. I went to St Barnabas, an all-girl Catholic high school in the Woodlawn section of the north Bronx.

I don’t remember how I got to school the first day, don’t remember a single worrisome detail. All I recall is that knot in my stomach, my qualms about going from a public to a parochial school. But in short order, I made the necessary adjustments and found classmates with whom to walk the two miles from home to school each day. This we did for all four years, years that zipped by. And to this day, I look back fondly on those times and treasure the friends I made at St Barnabas, some of whom remain friends to this day.  

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So, when invited to visit and speak to the graduating seniors, I readily accepted. Thomas Wolfe’s, You Can’t Go Home Again gave pause, but only for a second. As a precautionary measure, I asked that the students read Veronica’s Grave, my memoir,  before I arrived, all the better to discuss it. Done!

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It was a joy to go 'home' again, to see what the years had fashioned. For starters, the former high school, which had been housed on the third floor of the parish elementary school, had been replaced years ago with a handsome facility directly across the street. The classrooms and corridors felt bright and airy, particularly compared to the dimly lit central corridor in the old building. Then, too, the uniforms were greatly improved. Gone were the widely unpopular laced up brown oxfords of yore.

After an introduction by Mr Donald Boyce, the English teacher, a lively discussion ensued with students questioning the loss of my mother and how I coped. The most poignant moment came as I leaned over to sign a copy of Veronica's Grave: A Daughter's Memoir for a young woman who confided that her mother had died recently.

It made me happy that she felt free to share her sorrow with me, and I hoped that in some small measure the memoir might be of help to her as she grieves her loss.  It's for her, and for millions like her, that I wrote the book.

It was a wonderful day, a chance to meet some of the students and to see how young I once was. I was grateful; I am grateful for so many things, including you dear reader. So, let me close by wishing you and yours a most heartwarming Thanksgiving Day. Je vous souhaite un bon Thanksgiving! 

Hope to see you back soon, when I'll have the coffee waiting for you...

 

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Barbara Donsky