Sara Kate Batson was a high school classmate that I apparently deeply offended in our senior year, 1962. I guess I knew I had offended her at the time, but it was done and there was little I could do about it. I had done a stupid thing. Five decades passed.
Then at a June 2012 celebration of fifty years since our high school graduation, my wife Ellen and I walked into a gathering crowd of celebrants. Except for two amazing teachers in attendance that Ellen had met before, she knew no one else there, although she had heard of many of them through my reminiscences over the years.
Before speaking to me—in less than five minutes after our arrival—the now Sara Kate Batson Waller introduced herself to Ellen and proceeded to vent about my 50-year-old offense that she took personally. Sara Kate did this in such a way, in such a strong and determined voice, that I could not help but hear it. She explained to Ellen as I listened.
We had just been issued our Montgomery Central High School yearbooks in the spring of 1962. Following a long-standing custom, classmates handed their yearbooks to friends and asked them to write a note that would become a valued keepsake in the years ahead. Shortly before we received our yearbooks, Sara Kate had gotten a haircut and it was shorter than normal. So I proceeded to write in her yearbook,
“You look like a sheared sheep!”
With a twinkle and a squint in her eyes, Sara Kate looked at me and said,
“I still remember that!”
“Well, I do, too!”
I remembered it clearly. Sara Kate’s reaction at the time to what I had written probably helped me remember it. After a good laugh, we greeted a number of other classmates, some of whom I had not seen since our graduation a half century earlier.
About a half hour later, I walked back up to Sara Kate and said to her,
“If I were to ask you to forgive me for writing that you looked like a sheared sheep, would you forgive me?”
With no hesitation whatever, she firmly said with a smirk and a mischievous gaze,
Now that’s what I call a good grudge! It was (and still is) a 50-year grudge that Sara Kate obviously enjoyed harboring all these years. She dredged it up with such relish, such fire, and such a steely look in her eyes.
From my point of view, it was really nice being remembered for something, knowing I had left a lasting impression on at least one of my classmates.
What a great evening! So many other things remembered and enjoyed.