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Thursday, August 11, 2011


I had gone through reconstructive surgery on my foot and had bones pinned back together.  I had joints realigned and lost all of one joint but was still able to limp along if it was not too far.  Where I wanted to go was a long way from where I was.  I wanted to go from telling a story to writing a novel.  I wanted it to be the best that it could be.  It needed more than I could give it.

I did not have the money for professional editing and I did know that this was not the only book I would write.  I needed to learn as much as I possibly could and be the best that I could be.  I can not remember the exact number of pages at the beginning but it was more than 550.  I loved the story but ….

Most of the time, as parents we may decide to go with our children and help them to enroll in college.  It is a wonderful and proud time in their lives.  What I had in mind is different.  It was me that desired the class.  With all of my heart I wanted and needed to learn more.

I had no preparation for such a class.  I did not have the years of English or other studies the other students would have to help them prepare.  I was not even a Freshman.  I graduated high school in 1972 so it had been awhile since I was a student.  There are requirements for some classes.  I had to try and find a way to be allowed to attend the class for writing fiction.  I had to find a way to learn and understand what would be taught in the class.  Before that could occur, I had to be allowed to take the class.

I have to admit that I may not be your traditional student.  My daughter had gone along with me for moral support and make sure I did not get lost…..The kids helping the parents to go off to school.  When I stated the reason I was so intent to take that class was to be able to have the competency to write a novel that I could take pride in having done, her expression appeared a bit skeptical.  I had completed the novel but could do no more with out the class.

When she explained that it was a difficult class and would affect my grade point average, I had to laugh and explain that was of no concern for me.  She became more intent saying it could lower the GPA and I countered with the thought that I had no GPA.  Since this would be my first class it would be my GPA.  The idea that I take college level English and work my way up to the class as was normally required was quickly dismissed.  I felt that I had no time.  I was obsessed with trying my best if they would just give me the chance and promised that no matter what I would not slow the class down.  If I found myself in an impossible situation where the material was beyond my grasp I would not waste their time trying to teach me years worth of English preparation.

A bit more discussion and a lot more paper work along with permission from the professor that would teach the class and I was on my way to make the arrangements for payments to pay for it.  I was almost a student.

When I had to go get my student ID it was like a dream.  I am old enough that many or most of these people were younger than my children.  I may not like my picture but I loved my student ID.  I held it in my hand and gazed at it.  This was amazing for me.

In younger times it is easy to take school for granted.  You may even work hard to make the grades but the real test is did you learn?  The knowledge acquired is more than an accomplishment that is acknowledged with the grades given…it is a gift.  To learn should be a never ending journey in its own right.  This class was an opportunity to not just receive credit and or grade but to be able to be more than I was and do more than I had dreamed.

I had promised not to slow the class down.  I explained that I did not care if I passed or failed the class because the reason I wanted to take it was to learn.  If I could do that to the best of my ability, then I would have succeeded in what I was trying to do.

I was almost ready.  I needed to arrange for parking.  I would not be able walk far.  I had the State issued handicap parking but found out I needed the college handicap parking.  That was a challenge.  Most people there at the college were exceptional in their efforts to help in any way that they could but this woman was exceptional in her ability to almost give me a stroke and at least high blood pressure.  I had the physician statements, the information, the handicap hang tag from the State of Arkansas but she made it such a miserable ordeal there are no words to describe it. 

If you were not handicapped when you went in she could make you so frustrated you would be near brain dead before you left.  I was determined and becoming old lady cranky by that point and we found a way to work out the difficulties…to this day I have no idea what her problem was.  She told me she had no way of knowing that my foot was really something that would make walking difficult just because she had the information about the broken and repined bones, one joint completely removed and other problems that were not correctable.  How much more did she need?  She demanded I walk the length of the building to get to the elevator and go down, go outside to the car to get the actual hang tag and then walk back and show it to her. 

Do you remember that statement I mentioned a little while before this about the old lady cranky?  Well I had had all I could take and was so tired I knew I would have to leave soon so it was time to let the truth show.  I kicked off my shoe right in front of the whole room full of people, stuck the poor deformed thing up and asked her for her professional, medical assessment on if it looked normal, or something that would make walking easy, or if she would like to walk on something like that.  Her mouth fell open and she was shocked but I was not going to settle for less than at least a response.  She had been openly degrading and demeaning with me in front of everyone in the waiting room then she could answer me right then. 

She quietly accepted the fact that the foot is crippled and any documentation or doctor’s statements relevant but still demanded they see the actual hang tag.  I explained I could not walk that far at that time.  She allowed her assistant to go down with me and look at it.  I thought it would be hard to get into college but parking was so far the biggest obstacle.  I left feeling as if I was about to embark on an adventure.  Just being able to be allowed to or finding a place to park could be a challenge.

My class was at night so parking would be easier.  When a child begins a new school or new class they often suffer from anxiety.  Would they get along with the other kids?  What would the teacher be like?   How hard would it be?

With all of the medical problems I had been on large amounts of steroids that caused a lot of weight gain.  I still had some scars and difficulty walking and back problems….and I am an old lady compared to the others that would be in the class.  I admit that the day before my first class I felt nervous.  My husband saw some humor in it.  He asked me, “What are you afraid of?  This is what you have been wanting and I am sure you will do fine.”

I had to laugh at what we must sound like in this conversation.  I mimicked a child like voice to the best of my ability.  “What will all the other kids be like?  Will I get along with the other kids?  Will the teacher like me?  Honey, my big fear is….will I fit in the desk?”  How embarrassing would that be?

He thought it was funny.  I did not see a lot of humor at the time even though I have to admit that when saying it out loud it did sound funny.  He smiled patiently and spoke softly.  “Honey, after all that you have been through I can not believe you would be worried about your weight.  You lived through the accident and stood up to it all.  You have been there and done that a dozen times and not backed down to hard things in life and you really are worried about this class?”

Unless a person has gained or suffered from excessive weight they can not fully understand the differences they may endure in many ways from many people.  There are some who judge a person only by their perception visually.  They associate obese people with stupidity, lack of ambition, laziness and many other negative things.  There are even those who are openly cruel.  That would not worry me as much as the sad ones that never give you a chance and in the process miss out on some amazing people they pass right by with attitude.

When I found myself broken, cut, bruised and scarred I had the little child look only at my eyes and explained that I was just me.  I am still here.  There is a real me inside.  I felt the same way with the weight problem but it is just as difficult to deal with.  I had no idea what to expect.  I was not the traditional student in every way.  I did not have the opportunity to have had the education that would have prepared me for the course of study.  I was not getting any younger, but I was on my way.

The time had arrived.  I got my notebook and pen and book and headed off to school.  I parked in one of the closest places but still wondered if I would be able to make the walk.  It was so beautiful.  I had arrived early and began taking one step at a time closer to the impressive and beautiful building where the classes were held.  Near the door was a bench where I gratefully took a seat.  Little squirrels danced in the branches of the big trees there without fear of the people.  I watched the students going here and there with arms full of books.  The anxiety of before was easing to a gentle nervous apprehension but tainted with excitement.  It was almost time. 

I entered the building and found my class taking a seat near the back by the door.  I did fit into the desk, so that was a relief.  One by one the students began to come and take seats.  Some laughed and knew one another and others appeared as nervous as I felt.  All were friendly.  It was wonderful.  I was in a room full of children and yet they were my fellow students.  I may not fit in with them but this was going to be something special, and I could feel all of the anxiety fade away and be replaced with optimism and excitement.  I had no idea if I would be able to understand the class let alone participate but I was going to try my best. 

Grandma was going to school and it was wonderful. 


  1. Great job Linda, I swear you're telling my story LOL!

  2. Loved your comment about "if you were not handicapped when you went in..." :)