Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2266323-On-Turning-Twenty
by SSpark
Rated: E · Short Story · How-To/Advice · #2266323
Looking Back
Word Count: 916

She sat at her computer, trying to figure out the best way to complete the prompt. It was the last prompt for the Cramp's week-long twentieth anniversary celebration, and it was proving to be the hardest yet. But she had committed to finish, and she would.

Every time she started a new page, trying to come up with a cute piece of fiction, her fingers returned to her own life. After several attempts to turn back to fiction, she finally gave up. The fact was her granddaughter was on the verge of making the exact same mistake she had made all those years ago, and Stephanie was worried. This prompt might be a good way to sort out what she would say to Elle.

Dear Stephanie, she began.

I know you will find it difficult to believe, in 1974, that you're receiving a birthday card and letter from yourself in 2022. It's been forty-eight years since I sat in that chair, opening cards and gifts, laughing, in love with life. I can still remember the charge that emanated from us, wrapping anyone near enough in a net of unadulterated joy. We were an angel without wings, pure and innocent, nae, in search of wisdom and meaning, ready to conquer a world we could not understand.

Please believe me when I say I am you. I know your thoughts, your dreams, your history. We were eight years old when we chipped our front teeth playing football with neighbor kids in the front yard, ten when our appendix almost burst because Mom didn't believe we were sick. Later that same year our first pair of glasses were placed on our face and, for the first time in our life we could look up and see individual leaves on trees or look down and count blades of grass. I know which boy broke our heart and left us with a secret we would keep locked away the rest of our lives.

Do you believe me now?

It is imperative you know the importance of the decision you will make in a few short days. You are considering the question even now, as you sit in the middle of the den among wrapping paper and birthday cards, surrounded by Mama and Daddy, your siblings, and grandparents. "Should I quit college to get married, place my education on hold to support his," you are wondering. "Will a couple of years really make that big a difference?"

I'm not here to make your decision about marriage, I'm just here to answer the second question - but, spoiler alert: Yes, putting your education aside to support his will most definitely make a difference. A huge difference.

In 2022, at sixty-seven years of age, we still regret not completing our educational goals, mainly because life would have been easier for our children if we would have had a degree. That degree would have made all the difference in the salary we earned. As it was, we struggled to provide for two children on our own, working hard to make sure they had everything they needed, both physically and emotionally. They did, of course - we're too hard-headed to fail - but life could have been simpler. And that is a fact you need to seriously consider.

Thankfully, that hard-headedness helped us continue our lifelong quest for knowledge. We have earned several PhDs from the School of Hard Knocks, which has become a source of great pride, and with each came wisdom we often extend to others, especially those your age.

We have excelled in industries usually not open to women at the time, and have performed jobs many others, regardless of gender, will never be able to add to their resumes. Even without a degree, we have been successful. We served in law enforcement and then the oil industry during a time in which women weren't welcome in either. We wrote for a newspaper and then a magazine, garnered millions of dollars of free advertising for various non-profits, and hosted our own television program. We were well known politically in our area and were the first woman in our community to ever run for mayor. We founded and ran two non-profit organizations, one in the '80s that worked to bring an end to child abuse, and the other in the early 2000s which focused on merging the opposing industries of oil/gas and alternative energies.

Those two kids I mentioned earlier grew up to be phenomenal adults. They will always be the first two real loves of my life. It is because of them that I have never regretted our decision to marry. It is because of them, in fact, that we were able to accomplish those successes about which we are the proudest. For forty-eight years it is our love for them that has motivated us, has pushed us, has filled us. Without David we were able to be more; without them we would be nothing.

Stephanie relaxed into her chair. "All that, flowing from my fingers as if I had nothing to do with the thoughts," she mused. The letter her fingers had written had eased her heart. "The twenty-year-old me did just fine, as did the thirty, forty, fifty and sixty-year-old me," she told herself. "I have lived a full life; there is nothing I would have changed. And Elle will be no different. She is fully capable of making her own decisions and will make the most of them. I don't have to worry."

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