The Journey Begins…

by sharanpaul1

Very little education is required to be a housewife.  I was born and raised in a traditional 1950’s family.  Dad was a blue collar worker and Mom stayed at home to raise five daughters and a son.  My sisters and I were taught to sew, knit, cook, clean, and take care of children.  Formal education was not a priority, in fact, I cannot remember a time when anyone asked to see my report card.  My parents did not graduate from high school, and neither did my grandparents. No one in my family, or extended family, had gone to college, nor expressed any desire for higher learning.  For my brother, as long as he could write and count money, he could find a job and take care of a family.  The girls were expected to marry, so a basic Eighth Grade education was sufficient.

Every family has a black sheep, and in my family, it was me.  I wanted to know everything!  I found a book in the school library written by William Shakespeare and instantly fell in love with the language he used and the tragic stories he told through his writings.  When I asked the librarian if there were more books by this author, she patted my shoulder, telling me that I would be better off if I got my head out of the clouds and paid more attention in Home Economics.  I suppose she thought that Shakespeare would not help me get a good husband, but cooking and sewing would.  I took her advice, applied myself to mastering the coveted homemaker skills, while secretly dreaming of learning a foreign language, reading every book in the library, and figuring out difficult science problems.

College was not an option for me.  Our middle class family could not afford such an expensive endeavor for a girl, who was expected to marry and raise children.  They just did not see the point.  So, I did what most teenagers do when faced with parents that simply do not understand.  I rebelled.  I left home shortly after my eighteenth birthday and joined the Air Force, because they promised a college education in exchange for service to our country.  And in the Air Force, I met a great guy, fell madly in love and married him.  A few years and two sons later, I still dreamed of college while I changed diapers, cleaned, and cooked.  But the dream kept getting farther and farther away.

Life has a way of intruding on hopes and dreams.  After divorcing my husband, I was faced with being a single parent of two active, young boys.  It was fun to watch them grow and learn, but time-consuming.  Even if I thought about college, there were not enough hours in the day to fit it in.  Silly me, I actually thought I would go to college when they were both older.  I did not realize that older kids meant more activities, and more time and money.  Between football, Boy Scouts, Little League, and the endless housework, there was little time and no money left for higher education.  But, somehow, even with such a hectic lifestyle, I managed to meet another great guy, fall in love, and have a beautiful daughter.  At this point, I resigned myself to the fact that college was out of the question.

It’s never too late.  I have had a great life so far.  My sons grew up to be hard-working family men, the kind of men I am proud to call my sons.  My oldest son, Alexander, was a highly decorated Marine who served two tours in Iraq.  I bid farewell to him in 2005 when he died in an auto accident, just a month after he returned from duty.  He left behind his wonderful wife and my amazing granddaughter, Trinity.  My son Eric is an accomplished industrial welder and well-respected in his field.  He has blessed me with two delightful grandsons, Ethan and Alex.  My daughter, Rachel, is an aspiring rockstar and a senior in high school.  It was the process of helping her to plan life after high school that the thought of going to college surfaced once more.  We were considering the different music programs in a number of universities, when Rachel mentioned that it would be “way cool” if I would go to college with her, since I am retired now.  I laughed.  And then I started thinking once more about the many times I tried, unsuccessfully, to figure out a way to go to college, and all the truly fascinating things I could learn about.  Maybe it was finally time to fulfill my lifelong dream of going to college.  With Rachel’s help and my grandchildren cheering me on, I held my breath and signed the college application.

And so, the journey begins…