Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sentimental Memories & New Beginnings

For those of you who don't know this already, I managed to get on the wrong side of my alma mater's Dean Of Women back during the 1971-72 school year.

I would realize with the passing of time that she had been influenced by a "spin" put onto me -- and have come to realize just lately why such a spin came into being.

But I'm not going to go into all of that here.

However, I WILL say that I ended up getting a very upsetting letter from said dean shortly after completing my freshman year.  This letter informed me that she was requesting that I withdraw from college. 

It wasn't a request as in "Would you like to stop being a student at this college?  If this is what you want, who am I to keep you from it?"

Not by a long-shot!

Instead, it was a request/demand as in:  "Whether it's okay with you or not, you're no longer welcome to be a student at this college where you have had your heart set on going ever since one of our student representatives came to your church's youth group when you were in eighth grade and gave such a wonderful description of what being a student was like that you fell in love with our college and, as a senior in high school, you only filled out one college application:  to our college!"

As you can imagine, I was heartbroken when I read this letter -- but I was determined to return as a student a.s.a.p.

I had a lot of people in my corner, and "a.s.a.p." turned out to be the 1973-74 school year.

This would mean that I would be (if I didn't either get another one of those horrible letters from D.O.W. sometime on down the pike or else decide to quit going there on my own for one reason or another) graduating with the class of 1976 instead of the class of 1975.

The rest of the story plays out that I received no more of those horrible letters and ended up graduating in 1976 -- even though I would graduate with my major and minor switched and actually had to take a couple more summer school classes after the graduation ceremony in the spring before the album I was handed at the ceremony would contain a signed diploma.

There are more details to this story than what I'm writing here at this time, but I just wanted to show you how God works in mysterious ways and uses even shattered/delayed dreams to bring about positive, new beginnings in our lives!!!

For instance, this is what I saw myself doing during the summer of 1975 (before all of these changes took place):

Between my junior and senior year of high school, my folks and I had taken a vacation in the South with one of the places we went being Dauphin Island off the coast near to Mobile, Alabama.

When I was there, I saw this little schoolhouse that looked as if it had four classrooms at the most -- and I was thinking along the lines of two classrooms.  What ever amount of classrooms it had, it would be a mixed-age kind of classroom.

At the time, I was wanting to become a special education teacher -- and I had also found out that the college of my dreams didn't offer a special education degree.  However, I could go there to get an elementary education degree and, after that, either get my Master's in special education somewhere else or else take enough other courses somewhere else after I had graduated to end up with a special education degree at the Bachelor's level.

So, I had this game plan in mind:  

I would get an elementary education degree and, before working on my Master's in special education, I would get some teaching experience in a mixed-age classroom.  The Dauphin Island Elementary School seemed like one possibility.

Therefore -- before all of this withdrawing from college nonsense -- I was going to graduate in 1975.

During the summer of 1975, I saw myself back in the family home south of Anderson making preparations to move to Dauphin Island, Alabama and teach.  This would be, likely, for a period of only a year -- or two years at the most.

Then, I would be returning to Indiana and becoming a wife, mother, writer, and, in time (after finishing my Master's), a special education teacher (along with all of those other career descriptions, of course).

As it was, I was still a college student in the summer of 1975 -- and one who decided that summer would be the ideal time to get a very difficult required course out of the way instead of trying to do it while taking a full class load:

physics & chemistry

I ended up making As on the hands-on and very enjoyable lab assignments but getting mostly Fs on the "all Greek to me" part of the course -- with the end result being that I received a "passing" grade of D and, therefore, had that required course taken care of.

But the passing grade wasn't the best thing I got out of this class -- the best thing was getting a friend, and all because I was craving an orange.

I had a $20 bill, and the vending machine in The Campus Cupboard only took change for purchases.  The orange that was making my mouth water was on the opposite side of a transparent door from me.

I'd thought that the bookstore would be open so that I could break the $20 and buy the orange, but it wasn't.

So, I asked a classmate if he had change for a $20, and he told me that he didn't.  However, he had the two dimes that would get the orange for me and offered them to me.

I thanked him and told him that I would pay him back as soon as the bookstore opened, and he told me that it wasn't necessary, but I insisted.

It turned out that the bookstore opened before I even had the chance to buy the orange, so I went and broke my $20 and, then, tried to pay my classmate (who had followed me over to the student center) back his two dimes.  He kept refusing to take them -- but I was finally able to talk him into at least sharing the orange with me.

On that day in early July of 1975, a friendship that has endured for over 40 years was born!

A day or two later, Mark brought his "gee-tah" with him when he came to campus, and, after the class was over, he told me that he wanted to dedicate a song to me and did his own wonderful version of this one:

Click Here to see it performed by Paul and Ringo.

Mark was not quite 19 when we met.  On July 29, 2016, he'll be 60 years old.  I wonder, at times, how all of those years have gone by so fast.
It also doesn't seem that long ago (back in 1978) when my folks and I first met his fiancee, Barbara, and, the following New Year's Day,  my folks, Diana (another special friend who has blessed me with a bunch of godchildren -- and in so many other ways as well, even scolding me when I had gotten down and was considering dropping out of college after fighting so hard to get back in...a whole other story), and I attended their wedding ceremony.

This took place up in Lebanon, Indiana, and we had to park quite a ways from the church -- and it was really cold that night with the great outdoors flocked with snowdrifts, and we also had to be careful not to step on any slick spots.  These days, I don't know if I would have ventured out on a night like that -- but I'm glad that I was able to back then.

When I first met Mark, it had been his dream to go to medical school and become a missionary doctor in some Third-World country.  He ended up becoming an RN with most of his employment in that area being as a phlebotomist.  He was on-call with The Red Cross for many years -- not in some Third-World country but, instead, down in Tennessee where he and Barbara have lived since 1980 or 1981, raised one daughter who was born in 1982, and helped out various family members.

They have done all of this while dealing with various health and financial challenges of their own over the years and now are living in one side of a duplex in what they've found out to be a neighborhood that not only had the problem of inconvenience since their handicap-friendly vehicle was stolen a few years ago but, also, is getting to be very dangerous.

The last straw was when somebody fired 20 bullets into the other side of the duplex -- fortunately, not leaving a body-count behind.

"You've GOT to get OUT of there!!!" I told Mark when we were messaging online yesterday, and I added that I wished that I had the means to help them.

I asked him if there were anybody who would be able to help them to leave, and he let me know that he was already doing what he could to bring this to pass.  He had put up a GoFundMe Site in hopes of raising enough money to replace their vehicle and give them and their dog, Lady, the means to resettle elsewhere.

I was glad to hear this.  To a small degree, I was even able to help them by making the first donation of $5 and sharing the site.  I'm happy to report that, since I made the initial donation, a total of $50 more has been raised ($55 total) -- and I believe that this is just the beginning!!!

By the time you read this, I hope that even more will be donated.  You can click on the above hyperlink and watch the progress report.  If you feel able and led to, you can also donate.  Even if you're unable to donate, you can keep sharing this story.  You can share it either using the link to their GoFundMe site; using the link to this blog-entry; both; or something of your own if you happen to also know this wonderful couple and want to encourage people to donate to giving them a new beginning.