For you see, I am the typical late bloomer. I didn’t start college until the age of forty-four. The love of my life didn’t enter my life until I was fifty-five. And I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my early sixties. But I do have a wild and crazy variety of life experiences that spill over into my writing.
What was it like going to college with kids the same ages or younger than my children, who were college students themselves? It was a blast! At the time, I worked in a factory on third shift as one of three women working with sixty-seven men. Tough odds, I'll admit. I was a member of the machinists’ union, read blueprints, ran machines and worked in the oil and dredge of heavy steel industries.
After my shift ended at seven in the morning I’d rush home, shower and change before dashing off to campus.
I was a full-time student at Penn State, majoring in Business Management and English with a concentration in technical writing. Slowly I became the campus mom; the person homesick kids went to with their problems.
Yet, it was my sons I called in the evening when I couldn’t do my homework. I struggled with sciences, and my youngest was majoring in micro-biology. A collegiate wrestler, he shared an apartment with five other wrestlers. One night when I called for help, Mike yelled to his roommates, “Hey, guys, quiet down! I’m trying to help my mom with her homework.” Of course, his roomies responded with various questions like When is she making us more brownies? Is she bringing us some more jars of homemade spaghetti sauce? Ask her to make us those yummy stuffed shells like she did last time she was here. Men, we do know how they think, don’t we?
On the tenth anniversary of my divorce, I bought a bottle of wine, Chinese takeout and a bag of Oreos. Folks, I was determined to have one last pity party and finally—finally—get that man out of my system. A few hours later in a wine-MSG-sugar-induced moment of madness, I went online and filled out a profile on match dot com. I woke up the next morning with a start, head throbbing, vision doubled, mouth tasting as if a herd of buffalo had roamed through it and an obscure, wild memory that I’d put myself out on the internet for every wacko to find. Surely I hadn’t done that! Surely not…
But I had. Did the wackos find me? Oh, yeah. They came in droves. Oh, the horrors!
Then one day, Calvin sashayed into my mailbox on a jazzbeat and a smile—a gentleman with southern charm, a retired English teacher and a writer. We met for the first time at a Barnes and Noble. He was standing by the door holding a bouquet of red roses, and I was entranced.
That was eight years ago. Since then we’ve married. I retired as a techincal writer and, with Calvin’s encouragement, started writing. Last month we each had a book released. His The Phantom Lady of Paris is set on the Left Bank of Paris in 1968. My Storm’s Interlude is a contemporary romance full of family love and passion set in the hill country of Texas.
Having shared all this, I suppose if there’s one thing I can pass along to you, it’s that one is never too old to pursue his or her dreams. Age be damned. Truly. For it is our spirits that define us. No matter how downtrodden or damaged or dinged our spirits are, they’ll always rise to the occasion. They’ll whisper in our ears, “Let’s try it. Let’s see what we can do, shall we?”