I took this picture the other day while my son and I were at The School of Mines waiting to speak with the director of admissions. The official description of the school is; CSM is a state engineering university located in Golden, Colorado specializing in the geosciences. For those of you unfamiliar with the college, suffice to say it is a very tough school with a very good reputation that attracts some very good brains. My son will be among them next fall. He has a very difficult year ahead of him to make it happen. He must ace advanced placement physics, calculus and chemistry. He assures me, “There is no reason I can’t do it.”
Rewind six years ago. When my 25 year marriage fell apart I had to go back to work after staying home with my boys for seven years. Though I had a career and good education before those seven years, you just don’t walk back in where you left off. I was in the position of taking anything and everything I could to earn money. I sometimes worked four jobs at a time during this period.
One of the jobs I took was in the catering department at The School of Mines. It was the kind of job people take because they have little other choice. That was me at the time. I just loved that school though. There were pianos in the hallways of the student center. Students would spontaneously sit down and play beautifully from memory. As I stood in the back of the room wearing my white shirt and little black bow tie during an honors banquet one day, waiting to serve the group, I looked around the room at those bright young faces with their parents so proud and started to cry. I should have been in one of those seats, not standing in the back waiting to serve. I was 42 years old and thought my time had passed. I would never again be the young woman I once was with my life in front of me. I didn’t see how, from the position I was in at the time, my own children would have those opportunities. I thought those opportunities were gone.
The next four years were extremely difficult. Between the tanked economy and the housing bubble bursting we ended up losing everything at the end of 2009. It was surreal, but it happened. We found ourselves homeless for a short period of time. One night I knew we had run out of options and exhausted the good will of friends. I had my car packed with suitcases, my sons and our dog. I either had to seek emergency shelter or leave the state. That night a sea change occurred. Through a small miracle we found ourselves being given a beautiful home to live in, rent free, for three months. After that, I was told we could stay if I could afford the rent.
I looked around at the beautiful home and my sons who breathed a sigh of relief for the first time in months and decided we weren’t going anywhere. I also decided to take matters into my own hands and start a business. I knew I could count on myself more than I could count on yet another company to lay me off or tell me I was not qualified or not tell me I was too old, but think it…..I started with a handful of change, a few fliers and a bucket. Here I am, a year and a half later with a thriving business and a life filled with joy.
This is the best part. Over these last years, my oldest son’s goal has become to attend The School of Mines. No other school registers on his radar. I cannot help but marvel at how things came full circle. My business will help make it possible for him to attend the school and have the life that I once thought was out of our reach.
I think often of that day, standing in the back of the banquet. How, at one time I felt all was lost and my time had passed. Today, I am happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life – including childhood. There is a joy now that I don’t remember ever having. I am so grateful for all we’ve been through. It made us the people we are today.
It’s never too late to be what you might have been.