The Back to School Lunch Bunch

Dropping your once tiny bundle of joy off for the first day of school is a truly bitter sweet experience. That’s why 11 South Sound moms formed their support circle which they would come to dub, The Back to School Lunch Bunch. That was 40 years ago and the circle is still strong.

“There were 11 of us, one is deceased. Ten routinely come together,” says Gayle Lindeblom, a member of the bunch since it first began in 1975.

The ladies unite on the first day of school for Mt. View Elementary and the North Thurston School District where all of their now grown children were once enrolled. According to Gayle, the three youngest grandchildren still attend school in the district. The ladies would originally meet for a lunch reunion, hence the name, to distract themselves from the “empty nest” feeling and to catch up on the events of the past year. As time went on, many of the stay at home moms returned to the work force and the lunch date became a dinner date. Meanwhile, children grew and these woman shared life’s journey, full of struggles and triumphs, over their annual mealtime tradition.

“We’ve gone through one death, supported each other through births of grand kids and all the child rearing trials in between, teen issues, weddings,” Gayle goes on. “We have supported each other through divorces, re-marriages, illnesses of self and spouse, cancer treatment, selling and buying property, planning vacations.”

The dynamic is strengthened by the fact that each of the ladies brings a skill to the table and recognizes the others’. When sickness would strike, the registered nurse and doctor’s wife would chime in with advice. If it were a legal issue the group would turn to their own personal attorney at the table. For special occasions the bunch relied on their seamstress and florist. Two of the members work for the legislature so politics was also thrown in the mix. Although according to Gayle the group prefers not to talk politics. “We respect our differences in that area,” she says. “Our conversation now focuses on senior news.”

As The Back to School Lunch Bunch meets this week, that warm fuzzy feeling of community returns to offset the fall chill in the air. The ladies pull up a seat and begin to look back on their lives, through laughter and tears, recalling a time when they were new moms in a babysitting-coop standing on the cusp of Kindergarten. Who knows what the coming years hold for these ladies, but one thing is certain; when the school bell rings, they will have each other and their long running lunch-time legacy.

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is the managing editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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