What a surprise in the teenager's eyes,
When the lady of eighty sat down,
A smile on her face, yet fear in her heart.
As she gingerly looked all around.
A typical classroom with desks and chairs,
And text books and charts and maps,
Though she was resigned, she felt out of line,
But too late now to turn back.
She picked up her pad and her pencil,
And took voluminous notes,
At first her hand trembled so much,
She could barely read what she wrote.

The print in the text books, too small,
The blackboards, too far away.
The teachers lectured too softly,
She couldn't hear what they had to say.
But she spoke up in class discussions,
The essays she wrote were quite grand,
But to write or recite from memory,
The poor lady was all but damned.
She attacked her classes with fervor,
She selected subjects she lacked,
Then somehow she grew exponentially,
This lady who dared to come back.

She took English, Science, and History,
And gained Mathematical skills,
But she couldn't take Sex Education,
Parental permission was nil.
But undaunted and full of spirit,
The lady with guts toughed it out,
And, by hook or by crook, she made it,
Her senility never found out.
Struggling, fighting all the way,
Head on, she faced every onslaught,
And when at last her war was won,
She knew more than she had been taught.

The body may age, but not the heart,
And attitude's an ageless thing,
She grew younger by each class she took,
'Til she became like sweet sixteen.
Her head held high; her shoulders back,
Her husband and children cheered,
Her grandkids and the great-grands, too,
Oh such pride in Grandma Anear!
Here's to the Class of 2003,
We ask blessings for Helen from God,
She worked so hard to get that degree,
So maybe now she can get a job!

Virginia (Ginny) Ellis
Copyright June 2003


This poem is dedicated to my friend and neighbor, Helen Anear,
who at the age of 80 received her high school diploma June 2003.
I am so very proud of you, Helen!


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