Why not become a late bloomer?

My mother, who was born in 1903, loved school and wanted an education more than anything in the world.
Consequently, she was crushed when the doctor said she could not go to school anymore because of her eyes.
Even though she had glasses, the doctor said she would ruin her eyes forever if she continued in school. He also said she shouldn’t read–her favourite pastime.
Afraid of the consequences, my grandparents insisted that she follow the doctor’s orders.
That old-fashioned advice makes no sense to me at all. As an adult, my mother always wore glasses but she never had particular trouble with her eyes.
Although she was a very bright woman and read a lot, still she felt cheated and always longed for more education.
When I was in first grade, Miss Peck was my teacher. Miss Peck was also Uncle Bill’s girlfriend so she often was at our house. Knowing how much my mother wanted an education, Miss Peck urged her to come to school and prepare for the General Educational Development (GED) tests.
My mother considered it briefly. But at age 28, she thought she was too old.
In a different place and a different time, things could have been different. In 1975, when I went back to school to secure a second Master’s degree, age was no deterrent. Times had changed.
Harriet Doerr was born seven years after my mother. From a privileged family, Doerr attended college for three years, then left to marry.
She returned to finish her college degree the same year I went back. Harriet was 65 at the time. But, by 1975, you were never too old to go back to school.
At age 67, Doerr finished a degree in European history. Then she went on to take creative writing classes and completed her first novel at age 73.
Her first book, “Stones for Ibarra,” was an immediate hit and won the American Book Award in 1984, as well as many other prestigious awards.
One reviewer described her style as “exquisitely nuanced, elegant, and wise.”
Another reviewer said this “late bloomer” had “mastered the art of fiction to a degree that would be remarkable in almost any writer of any age.”
In fact, it was because of her age and experience that she wrote so well.
All of her books are set in Mexico, where she lived with her husband for many years. They are filled with details and observations from her years there.
She wrote two other award-winning books–at age 83 and age 85. One of her books was written on a U.S. National Endowment for the Arts grant.
Not that she needed the money. She was a railroad heiress and her husband had mining interests in Mexico.
But Doerr never let her money get in the way. As a student, she was a popular grandmother to the students and her professors became her mentors.
She wrote until she became legally blind at age 90, and she continued to speak to groups until her death at age 93.
Harriet Doerr is a wonderful example of a late bloomer. How lucky we are to live in this time when we are never too old to accomplish our dreams!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@cox.net

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