With Sympathy ~ Annette Schneider Smith

My last years of high school were spent in New Lothrop, Michigan where I attended St. Michaels High School. There was no apostrophe, before anyone writes to correct me.

These years were some of the best of my youth, even when being an active gay teen in a town with a population of 1,000 people was at times devastating. My entire graduating class was 52 students, but one young man died in a car crash before we reached our senior year.

All of students were related by less than seven degrees of separation in this farming community. I was not only from out of town, I was from out of state making me a rare anomaly. They loved when I spoke because they enjoyed razzing me about my accent. The sound of their speech was out of place for me too, but since my father was from this area, it did not quite sound as foreign to me.

When we graduated, the school closed up. There was an initiative passed in Michigan that cut all funding to private schools. It was many years before I returned to Michigan and even longer for a class reunion. Being our class was so small it came upon one or two people with the motivation to get something rolling. I attended the 26th year reunion with Ron in tow. No one thought about a 25th year reunion until it was too late. There was some hesitation in bringing my male partner to meet my former classmates in this very conservative Catholic community. He was a hit. The only thing they objected to was his little ponytail that he sported at the time.

Today, I received word that a second classmate has passed away: Annette Schneider Smith. I am deeply saddened by this news. Our classmate Karen Wenzlick is always excellent about keeping us informed with all classmate events. Regardless of the short time spent with these people, they contributed to the person I am today for which I am grateful.

Using Firefox, Chrome, and IE try to find the obituary online, the connection timed out making it a useless and frustrating experience. I called the funeral home in Michigan to explain where I live, who Annette was to me and what I hoped to achieve. The young woman who answered the phone said she was just on the funeral home site without an issue. After assuring her that I used every Google tool to find the various ways to infiltrate their database, it was useless. She then offered to send me the information. After offering many platitudes of thanks, I hung up and waited.

After refreshing my mail several times with impatience, her mail finally arrived. This is what she sent.
www.thenameofthefuneralhome.com
I hope this works!

She did insert the real URL, but I changed it not to cause embarrassment. I had one of those HOLY COW ~ DUH!! hit my forehead in exasperation times.

Well, after several more e-mails, she finally came through.

Annette, I have not seen you in years. We have not been in touch, but you still live on in my heart and wonderful school memories.