Through the years, we have visited much about former students, especially thosefrom Forrest and Tucumcari because many of them have remained in touch or havecontinued to live in the area.
Although I see a few students in the county from NMSU, most of those several thousand students have scattered and have rarely contacted me because we just weren’t as close for the most part as were the public school students. After all, we knew each other for a short time only, often for a semester, and just didn’t form real friendships.
Recently, one of the few who has remained in touch over the years appeared here with her husband and took me to dinner to revive our memories of the past. Peg Buchwald and I hadn’t seen each other in about 27 years but had written at least once a year since then. She had taken several classes from me while she was living in Las Cruces with her children and waiting for her husband to return from Vietnam. We became fairly well acquainted during that time because she learned that my office door was always open and that all students were welcome.
Once she finished taking classes from me, we then became friends and spent quite a bit of time together in each other’s homes with several other former students.
We celebrated the return of her husband and watched her children grow as we enjoyed forming our friendship. Although quite an age difference existed between us, she was kind enough to ignore that and seemed rather pleased that we could enjoy each other’s company.
When Peg wrote that she and her husband were returning here from their home in Florida for a visit, I was delighted but a bit tense as I wasn’t really sure just how much we would have in common after all the years of not having seen each other.
As usual, my insecurities were out of order because when I saw her and her husband, I knew we were just as close as we had been so long ago and that we would have a lively evening of visiting.
She had recently retired as an English teacher and had much to say about her experiences in that noble profession. As I watched her, the years dropped away, and we were as comfortable in each other’s company as we had been in my office and our homes in the late’70’s and early 80’s.
She had the same wonderful laughter and made me realize one more time just how very fortunate I was to have had her as a student. Her husband remained much in the background but came forward to express his ideas whenever he felt so moved.
They caught me up on the lives of their children and showed a number of pictures. The evening came to a close all too soon, but it certainly left me with a warm feeling and the knowledge that those former students from all schools are very special.
Peg wrote a note almost immediately to say that our visit was almost as if having coffee and conversation in my office at NMSU had never stopped.
Of course, I felt much the same way as I could see that office filled with students as usual—some in the few available chairs and the rest sitting on the floor. We all had many happy hours as we talked and learned from each other. That little office was a place in which all people felt welcome to enter. I might look up to see the president, dean, department head, other professors, or other administrators entering. Usually, one of the students would arise to allow an elder to have a chair, but some of those officials didn’t mind sitting on the floor along with the students of all ages. What a privilege it was for this woman from lma to have been able to enjoy so many years on that campus!