On Saturday, August 6th, John and I went to Santa Rosa, Ca to our good friend Leo's BBQ/Reunion. Every year for the past 17 years Leo has been having this BBQ/Reunion for his/my friends. We have always been invited, but this is the first year that we were able to attend. I was kind of worried to go because I haven't seen so many of my old friends for about 47 years. The last time I saw some of them was at our wedding. So many years have passed by. I can't even believe the number. Where do the years go? How do they pass by so fast? Actually, Emily was scheduled to have her baby on the 8th and after I decided that I really did want to go I was wondering if we could actually make the trip and still make in back for the birth. As it turned out Emily was able to change the date for her c-section to the 11th and so we did go to his final party.
Oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!I'm so glad we went. I had the BEST time. Everyone was sooooo nice. Everyone was so excited to see me and I was so excited to see them. We talked and talked and laughed and reminisced. It was just wonderful. I can't even say how much I enjoyed the day. There were 115 guests. I knew many of them, but of course not all because Leo has made new friends over the years and they were there. But, there were so many of my friends from Jr High, High School and College.
When we were all kids in school, we had a great group of friends that spent lots of time together. Some of us went to school together. Some went to different schools. During high school some of us also attended Russian School after school twice a week and on Saturday mornings. We had parties, picnics, school dances, proms, church activities, plays, days at Russian River, sports, and service projects. We went to the movies, bowling, football games and had lots of good clean fun. We really had lots of fun together and did lots of things, but it was always pure and innocent fun. It was the late 50's early 60's. We were young and full of life. We had hopes and dreams and ideals. We lived a good life although for some it was not that easy. We did have our challenges. Many of us had immigrated to the U.S. not that many years ago. We were good citizens and we wanted to be good adults although by the end of high school we already thought we were so grown up and mature.
Many of my friends in this particular circle of friends are Russian. Some of them fell in love and married each other and many of them married other Russians. It was a blast to hear so many speaking Russian again. It really took me back and I enjoyed it so much. It just felt good to be speaking in my mother tongue. I recognized most of the friends, but I must admit there were some that I didn't recognize at all. 47 years is a whole lifetime ago. People change. Luckily everyone recognized me and was very kind to me. One person did say that they recognized me, but that I looked older. I guess that would happen over so many years.
One time we went to Lake Tahoe for a little trip. None of us had any money so we borrowed her father's old Rambler. This particular car has seats that fold down to make a bed. So we drove to Tahoe and at night we all slept in the car together. It was pretty cozy with the four of us. We were like sardines. When one turned we all had to turn. The first night we just giggled and laughed and couldn't fall asleep until early morning. Then they (John, Natalie and Alex) kind of pushed me down towards the bottom so they could have more room. They are all tall, 6 ft and over and I am 5ft. 2in. so I was at a disadvantage. The second night we were all so tired that we fell asleep pretty quickly. The two girls were in the middle and the boys were on the outside. During the night I heard some snoring so I quietly whispered shhh to John. No response. "Shhhhhh", I said a little louder. Finally I tapped him and said, "Shhhhhhhh, Shhhhhhhh." This time I got a response. "You've got the wrong husband." Of course, this got us to giggling again.
Later in the day we were sitting at the same table eating and George said, "This is the 2nd best day in my life. I am so happy to see Natasha again." I loved seeing him and talking to him. It was fun to remember our youthful days together.
Leo married Vangie a Filipino girl. They eventually had 5 assisted living homes for old people. They took very good care of those people and always had a waiting list. Finally they retired and sold the homes. Now they have a home in Santa Rosa and also one in the Philippines. The one in the Philippines is actually a huge mansion with lots of acreage. They have built a school on that property and have sponsored about 42 children who attend there full time. The pay full tuition for these children and about 8 or 9 of them have already graduated from the school and Leo and Vangie are now giving them scholarships to attend college. The kids that attend the school have to work on Saturdays for them. They help maintain the grounds and do other jobs to help with their keep. Vangie told me that they tell the children that the thanks they want is for them to grow up to be good adults and then to help someone else they way they were helped. Just recently they have taken 4 children into their home and are raising them too. They are wonderful to do this and I do so admire them for it. They have also built a community pool in the barrio there near their home and they help the people there all the time. What a great way to use their money.
Well, I've written quite a bit and will stop now. I will have more to write later. For now, I am just so happy that we went. John knew a lot of the people too, so he also had a great time.