My title is from a poem by Robert Burns called “To A Mouse”, although many don’t recall that fact even though they are very familiar with the above line. It is usually indicative of something that has been planned that either has not happened at all, or has required an alteration in some form.
Cancer, or any other life altering illness, can waylay the best laid plans. Sometimes, life presents circumstances that do the altering for you, no illness involved. The true meaning of living is taking life one day at a time, alterations and all, and doing all you can to make it the best you can. You really aren’t living if you are sitting in the station, waiting for the train that was discontinued long ago. I should know, because I spent a few years warming that station bench, not really noticing that not only was the train not coming, but no one was even using that abandoned station any longer.
So, a little over a year ago the decision was made for me to go to college. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, really. But looking back, my comfort zone had gotten pretty crowded with all the “I can’t” garbage that had piled up over the years. This past year has proven not only that I can, but that I can excel at it. 25 hours completed with a 4.0 GPA states that pretty clearly. I still have a long road ahead, but it is nowhere near as bumpy as I thought it was going to be when I walked into a classroom last June for the first time in nearly 34 years.
Nonetheless, college has a way of altering perspectives as well. My lone goal was to get through this so that I can help those who need it. This is still my goal. But looking at the options, really looking without the rose-colored glasses, showed me something I did not consider at the onset. I am now 51 years old. I will be 54 when I get my bachelors degree and 56 when I get my master’s degree. I will be receiving my diplomas standing with people more than half my age. All of us will have two things in common – our degree, and our desire for a paycheck. Realistically, business owners are going to want to employ someone a tad bit farther from retirement, especially in the field of social work. But, I can put together a prospectus that would knock someone’s socks off, and be a game changer! Okay, I can be useful. Well, maybe the VA will hire me because of my veterans status. Or I can simply freelance and hope to get paid????? Seriously, I would go from gung-ho, lets change the world, to no confidence at all hourly. HOURLY. But I had rediscovered a love as well. I found out my love for language, for the written word, for the authors, for the poets, for the playwrights – it had never even dimmed, but rather had just been suppressed by all the cares 30+ years had piled on top of it. Helping another construct a well-written paper, writing one myself, reading the timeless classics, discovering new ideas, all became so incredibly satisfying. The thought began to occur that maybe – nah, no chance, I had a course set, people were counting on me – but what if???????
Today, the best laid plans of the woman were altered. I changed my major to English. I will still be here to help anyone and everyone who needs it to find resources, to be your shoulder, to be your friend and be your ear. I will continue to do this out of love – and for no charge. You see, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I could never really charge someone to help them find resources at a time in their lives when everyone they talk to has a hand out (sometimes they won’t even talk to you until you pay FIRST). So, my new goal is to most likely work in a junior college setting in a writing center (which is what I do 4 days a week, for 2.5 hours in the afternoon), possibly maybe teach, or something in that general vein. I will know more about the multitude of options as I begin to explore them. But cancer awareness and advocacy for the patients and their families is still vitally important to me, and that has not nor will it change. I figure I can help even more people – I can help cancer and life altering illness patients and their families in whatever way is available to me, as well as helping young people be articulate enough, and have knowledge of fantastic literature that they can make a positive mark on future generations as well.
Your support has and does mean so much to me. So, onward and upward! And thanks.