Going Back to School

Going Back to College at 65

Yeah, I start back to school this month. I’m hoping for two classes. I have to ask permission to be in the Comparative Religions class because it’s full and I’m a freebie student.
It’s free for me because I’m over 60 and Penn State has a Go 60 Program where anyone over 60 can take 6 credits a semester free. I’ve already taken one class this semester. But I’ve had a couple of people ask me why I should want a degree at this stage in my life.
Why indeed.
I will revert to my little old Sicilian lady routine:
Picture this: Laurel, Maryland, 1964, a small house in Howard County, so it’s not really Laurel, Maryland but close enough.
Father: “If I send one to college, I’ll have to send the other and I can’t send both of you to college. So don’t even apply to any colleges. If you want to go to nursing school, I may be able to afford that. If not, you’ll have to get a job.” I was one year from high school graduation.
Me: Thinking: A job will be hard without a car and without a driver’s license. But saying: “I guess nursing school it is.”
1965:
My senior year English teacher Mrs. Stanton: “Why are you going to nursing school? You should go to college and be a writer…”
Me: Thinking: Thanks for telling me now. At least as a nurse I’ll be able to support myself. Saying: Nothing, just shrugged.
So I went to nursing school and I was very unhappy.
I painted.
I wrote.
I read.
I took care of patients with G-tubes and colostomies—things that were foreign to most 18 year olds.
I worked during snow storms because the nurses’ residence was across the street from the hospital.
I took care of mothers giving birth and the babies that were born.
I took care of the broken hips and the dying.
I painted.
I wrote.
I read.
I hated nursing school.
But I graduated and started working as a Graduate Nurse. In 1968 I got my RN after passing my “boards”.
I hated my job and called out sick frequently. But it was my only means of support.
When I got married I was the major support of the family.
I was able to take care of my ill mother-in-law.
I went back to school nights.
When I got divorced I was the major support of myself and my daughter.
I still hated my job(s).
I advanced in my job(s).
I took care of my mother when she was dying.
I still hated my job(s).
But why? You were doing something good.
It wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.

Now, after 43 years of doing what I didn’t want to do, I have the chance at a do-over.
And that is why I’m going back to school.
Because I want to.
I always have.


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