Fortitude, moral strength, fearlessness-these all mean the same: Though difficult to sustain, it must dominate my daily life. It becomes easy to falter sometimes. Starting with a childhood with a mentally ill mother, where you did not know what the next day would bring, to where I am today. My dad, a musician worked hard to put food on the table: Traveling on cruise ships appeared to be the best fit for my dad, but it meant adjusting to the every day changes on my own. A childhood filled with apprehension and no friends was hard to bear, but somehow gave me the tenacity I posses today in taking on responsibilities.
As a teenager, I was always involved with trying to help my peers with their problems, whether it was drugs or a bad home environment. I had worked from the age of fifteen and worked my way up to a supervisor in various financial positions. As my life progressed, I traveled, which was another desire of mine. After one disastrous marriage where I almost lost everything I worked for, I entered into an alcoholic marriage where I did lose everything- in a horrendous fire. I felt that I always had to start over. As the marriage improved, so did my life.
Volunteering has always given me a feeling of purpose: I have done this with fervor in my birthplace; hospitals and mentoring were a part of my weekly routine. As I moved away from the world of finance and moved to a new state, my volunteering grew more extensive. I became a “Big Sister” with “Big Brothers/Big Sisters”, volunteered at the “Boys & Gils Club”, mentored children as new after-school programs formed and ran Al-Anon meetings for kids at middle schools and high schools. With my love of children it only seemed right to find a new type of job. I chose to be a substitute teacher.
Through all my life experiences, I had never finished high school.
Resolution brought me to a point in 2002 at sixty-three years old to finish what I started. I quickly flew through the preliminary tests and I obtained my high school diploma. Psychology had always been one of my preferences as far back as high school. I immediately entered a community college. Health issues have plagued me during the last twenty years, but I continue to move ahead: A mild stroke in the beginning of my college attendance has not deterred me. I have just turned sixty-eight years old and have just obtained my Associate in Arts degree, with honors. Am I finished? Not by a long shot. I am entering a university and am aiming for the highest degree to become a school counselor.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.