The Autumn of my Life

Suzanne Marsh

Life sometimes has very strange twists and turns, mine began after I retired. College, I thought, at sixty five. That sounded insane even to me. I have never been one to be deterred once my mind is made up. I decided that what I really wanted to do was to become a writer, not journalism either. I wanted to write short stories. I suppose down deep in my inner self, I knew I really wanted to write. Strange how life gets in the way and it did for me. I married, raised three children and had ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren. I asked myself; 'would I be able to go to college I had corns on my feet older than most of the young people that would be attending classes. Was this what I really wanted? Yes.

The Big Ben alarm clock began to clang; it was six thirty in the morning. I arose, stretched and headed toward the shower. I did not want to be late for my first class. I roamed around the house, tried to eat breakfast. The next thing I knew I was running late. This was not going to look like I really wanted to do this. I put the pedal to the metal; about three miles from the college so did a police officer. He pulled me over:

“Lady this is a twenty five mile an hour zone, you were doing fifty six.”

I could feel my stomach fluttering:

“Officer, I did not realize I was going that fast. I am running late. Today I am starting college.”

I was hoping the officer would take that into account; he did, he handed me a speeding ticket for a hundred and fifty dollars. Things were not boding well. Once I got to the college I had to find a parking space. The parking lots were on the other side of the college and of course the building where my first class was being held was on the opposite end of the college. Running was never my forte and at sixty seven I wasn't about to start now. I walked as quickly as I could; man being a desk jockey for twenty five years takes a toll. I was at least ten minutes late; I opened the door to the stare of twenty five people plus the professor. Professor Dyke looked up:

“I hope madame that is not going to occur often. Being late will earn you a history test

tomorrow morning.”

I became indignant and with a no nonsense voice:

“Now look here you old poop! I got up late, barely finished breakfast. I got a

speeding ticket. Then, then to top the whole thing off I had to walk two miles

since the parking lot is on the other side of the buildings. I will not take a history

test tomorrow because I don't have a book to study from. Apparently there was a

snafu at the bookstore on campus and the book won't be here until the end of the


He quietly motioned me to take seat amid snickers from the younger students. I could tell Professor Dyke and I were going to be butting heads quite a bit this semester. I sat down in front; he began by introducing himself. Then he asked what aspect of history each one of us enjoyed. He went to each student. At this juncture I still angry so:

“I am an antique, I am sixty seven years of age. I enjoy reading about the American Civil

War. No I do not have any knowledge of what it was like back then.”

By this time he was really was not amused. The kid in back of me begin laugh then the rest of the kids joined in. I was being very disruptive but he deserved it; at least I thought so at the moment.

My next class was Chemistry. The professor reminded me of a frustrated Shirley Temple. He had dark brown curly hair with dark brown eyes. He was a little pip squeak with a booming voice, I half expected him to belt out “On the Good Ship Lollipop” any second; instead he droned in a monotone voice:

“Lab days are three times a week. Today, Wednesday and Friday. Today we are going to

begin with making aspirin, it's chemical compound is acetysalicyclic acid, the main component

is salicylic acid which is a white crystalline, very slightly water soluble powder. I have

assigned lab partners. Names are posted on the wall as you enter the lab.”

I wondered if this day would ever end, my lab partner did not look like he was old enough to shave much less be in college. We sort of smiled at each other his name was Troy. We followed the directions, when the aspirin compound began to smoke, I don't know if that was because I accidentally added more phosphoric acid or what. The professor came over, put out the flame. Then turned and walked the other way attempting to keep a straight face. Troy looked like he would have liked to crawl under a desk somewhere. I began to wonder if my plan to finish up the degree I had began more than twenty five years ago was really worth my while.

The next class that day was English Literature. I have always enjoyed literature so I chose that as an elective. The class was small if there were fifteen kids in the class that was a lot. Professor Henry Higgins, I kid you not that was the man's name. I hoped he was not going to sing the literature lessons. He was no Rex Harrison, nor was this class a stage for My Fair Lady. He was a dumpy, bald with granny glasses. He was not boring but he was not Professor Henry Higgins either.

Finally my last class, after climbing up two flights of stairs I arrived at the class and lab for Anatomy and Physiology, I needed this class desperately, since I wanted to finish my bachelors' in Nursing. The young men and women in this setting were a dedicated group. Then the A & P professor walked in. He had a red beard, bright red hair, blue eyes, not the greatest build but he did have a sense of humor. He smiled as he introduced himself:

“Hello ladies and germs, er sorry gentlemen” that line was older than I was.

“Since today is our first day; we will start with dissecting a worm, the cat is later in our


A worm, what did that have to do with a human body and I was not going to dissect a worm or a cat for that matter. I was paired with a young woman whose name was Tiffany. I can still see the horror in her eyes as she grabbed a worm. I thought for a moment she was going to pass out. I gave her a polite kick, so she wouldn't. She glared at me as I smiled wanly at her. I whispered:

“sorry but I thought you were going to pass out.”

She started to say something then changed her mind; after all I was old enough to be her Grandmother!

We pegged the worm to the board, following the professor's guidance. Now I remembered why disliked anatomy so much. The reason for the worm was two fold, they are easy to pin and they happened to have twelve hearts. It was amazing to see each heart. Once we were done, the professor let the class leave early; which was fine. I had a forty minute drive back to my home. I took my time, one ticket per semester was enough.

Tiffany and I graduated four years later with our degrees; she is now a MedSurg nurse. I am sixty nine now. I work part time in a nursing home and I am content in the autumn of my life.

August 13, 2020 20:50

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Amogh Kasat
09:09 Aug 16, 2020

It's an amazing story! please read my both stories and like and comment


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Marissa Ann
17:25 Aug 21, 2020

Hi Sue! This was a fun read, there were some missing words towards the beginning, but otherwise it was enjoyable.


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18:52 Aug 17, 2020

I liked the overall feeling and message of your story! It was well planned! Well done!😊


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Melissa Hassan
06:15 Aug 17, 2020

Hi Sue, I loved your story. There were words missing in certain paragraphs. But I loved it. I especially cracked up when you mentioned the Professor's name as 'Henry Higgins' lol😊


Sue Marsh
18:01 Aug 19, 2020

Melissa, I am glad you enjoyed Autumn of my Life. I just could not resist 'Henry Higgins' it fit perfectly. Thank you for reading it. Sue


Melissa Hassan
19:39 Aug 19, 2020

You are most welcome!😊


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Deborah Angevin
11:28 Aug 14, 2020

I took a Chemistry class in college too and this story brought me nostalgic feelings, Sue! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Grey Clouds"? Thank you :D


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Sue Marsh
21:42 Aug 14, 2020

thank you Deborah I am glad you enjoyed Autumn of my Life...I am seventy now and when I went back to college the Chem lab professor really did remind me of Shirley Temple!


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