Our family came to Santa Rosa in 1946. My father practiced family medicine, while my mother focused on rearing four daughters.

I am now 67, and my widowed mom will be 99 this month.

This summer, I came from North Carolina to clean out mom's attic — and to attend my 50th Santa Rosa High School reunion. Never did I expect life lessons from these two events to intersect.

Mom went through the Depression era, so she saved every purse, jar and rubber band because "you just never know." This really means "If there is a space, fill it."

Our attic had floor-to-ceiling boxes, suitcases and trunks filled with beautiful lace, material remnants, newspaper clippings, Halloween costumes, high school formals and treasures such as my grandmother's wedding dress. At first I was very matter of fact that all must go.

Then with each item, Mom had a story.

As she held a dress or photo close to her heart, I fell in love with these past treasures. I realized few of us take the time to reminisce any more. Mom saved every Christmas card and plans to re-read each before she donates the cards' artistic designs to nursing homes.

She also has a 1942 Cosmopolitan magazine. The model on the cover is drop-dead gorgeous as many women were in the 1940s. At that time, Cosmo focused on book reviews with excerpts from World War II romance novels. When I then looked at a July 2013 Cosmo, the cover model seemed raunchy in comparison. I suddenly longed even more for the past.

My reunion is another story.

So many of us move away and do not maintain high school friendships. Others view a reunion as a game of one-upmanship or decline to go because of changes in their physical image. As I tried on my high school prom formal, I recalled that moment in time when romance was mixed with growing up. I suddenly realized a high school reunion is not about me but rather about all the classmates who influenced my life.

From that moment on, I forgot about the size of my waist or facial wrinkles. When reunion night came, it was amazing to hug 78 of approximately 350 graduates from the 1963 class of Santa Rosa High School.

After 50 years, each of us had been humbled in one way or another, so there was no pretense. Some had experienced cancer, crippling arthritis or Vietnam War wounds. The greatest lesson was a wall filled with 52 high school graduation pictures of deceased classmates.

I chose to go to my reunion, but I humbly honored those who had no choice.

My mom's attic and my high school reunion filled my heart with every possible emotion. I was so grateful for this glimpse into the past, for touching old costumes and formals and for being with those who shared them with me.

Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Santa Rosa High. My 2013 summer memories will linger forever.

<i>Marian Lones Jacoby, a 1963 graduate of Santa Rosa High School, now lives in North Carolina.</i>