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June 11, 2011

by Martha Harris Myron, originally published in The Royal Gazette, Bermuda

 

MONEYWISE June 11, 2011 Special to the Royal Gazette in Commemoration of MSA 1961 Graduating Class 50th Reunion

Parents send their children to school to learn more than they know; to achieve more than they have; to become successful. But how do you measure success? Money, fame, more than that?

June is the annual rite of passage for students everywhere, from school, from university, from graduate school. Throwing off the role of the perpetual classroom attendee, and the dependency upon parents for most things in life, each year graduates emerge from their cocoons into the world: the real world driven by profits and losses, bonuses and redundancies, pay for performance (dollars and promotions) and punishment for passiveness (no dollars and demotions). It is a real world of survival, by your wits, by luck, by education, by sheer grit, no matter, the responsibility to succeed is now yours. No one else can do this for you.

Fifty years ago this month, the Class of 1961 of graduated from Mount Saint Agnes Academy. I was one of them, along with the most famous voice and influential opinionator in Bermuda, David Lopes.

We were born during World War II from 1942 to 1944. We are quite possibly the last generation of children that were assumed to grow up to lead relatively stationary lives: school, church, possibly college, a job for many years, marriage, domestic stability, home, hobbies, then retirement after rolling along for 50 years.

But, life happened to all of us.

We were the bridge generation straddling the old version of complacent non-confrontational conformists and the new Me First Baby Boomers, pushing all boundaries and setting new horizons.

We were of a place that had little immediate access to the outside world, further education, styles, ideas, and consumer cravings. We thought we were worldly, but we were naively happy living in a sleepy fishing village. A wonderful gift in retrospect because we now understand that this school experience - the pure luck of the draw for that time and place - taught us many lessons, some implicit, some drilled into us again and again by the Sisters of Charity. They knew how to teach and they cared about our success. We learned to be survivors, resourceful independent thinkers, ready to challenge the borders past those reefs.

What else could you strive for when there was no television to stagnate the mind?

There were thirty-six of us in this Bermuda Class of 1961. We were a composite bunch; ladies outnumbering the men three to one. Among the demographics, too, a fourth of our class were a group of cooler United States transplant kids from Kindley Air Force Base. They possessed a fascinating and alluring sophistication carried from the American mainland.

Our parents were mainly hard working individuals from modest backgrounds. Some were first or second generation immigrants to Bermuda seeking a better life. Those students whose parents had large families and businesses were expected to contribute before and after school, often working until late in the evening. Life was more fragile then. Our Parents were careful and conservative with their money. Our Parents did not hope their children would succeed. They demanded that we achieve success, financially and physically.

So, what have we done as we look forward to our spectacular sparkling horizon to the years ahead that still promise success and satisfaction.

We’ve become an actress, US TV personality, college lecturer, served in Vietnam and the US Air Force, the Bermuda Regiment, engineers, accountants, film star, financial advisor, business entrepreneurs, pioneers in a new countries, speak multiple languages, globally mobile executives, philanthropic-focused volunteers, caregivers, homemakers, good fathers and mothers, and good friends. One of us dedicated her life in Service to the Lord.

Some have quietly chosen simple comfortable lifestyles; others have flown like kites to the four corners of the world, to return to the only Bermuda on earth, decades later.

We have seen our classmates endure tragic life sorrows, far more than their share. We have lost six classmates, prematurely, along with other good friends, siblings, parents.

Some would call these normal statistics that happen in any group - but they never are. In a small community, they are deeply personal. Those that have left us far too soon are always loved and eternally missed. We honor their memories.

Life can be so euphoric, so precious, and debilitatingly exhausting. We’ve had our share of successes and failures, some financial, some physical, some personal, but we’ve survived to carry on for another day. Through our lives, we have had role models of many individuals who carry a quiet abiding faith in the inherent goodness of people and the power of prayer and redemption.

Have we achieved success? Have we done well in life? Have we left our footprints in the sand?

If our teachers were grading us today, the entire class would receive a resounding A plus.

In many ways, small and large our class has contributed to the growth of this country. It is the committed hard work and intellectual efforts of ordinary people like us who have become during their lives extraordinary individuals - in their own right, in their own way, in their own time.

We have made a mark. We have contributed. We have achieved success. Our parents would be proud. We have met their expectations!

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we voyage along through life.
'Tis the set of a soul that decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

— Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 'Winds of Fate.

Martha Harris Myron, Class of 1961

 

 

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