One Wish at Eighteen

Sometimes a book takes me into my own “What if?” like As You Wish in my last blog. The premise of having one wish on an eighteenth birthday that would be permanent intrigued me and kept me going back to what I would have wished for on my eighteenth birthday.

Looking back, I am quite sure what that wish would have been. Having skipped second grade, I entered college the month of my seventeenth birthday in the community college on a school bus route that ran on the highway right in front of my house. The choice was economic. I planned to get two years before transferring to a nursing program at a four-year institution.

If I had known I had one wish on the following birthday, it would have been for a full scholarship to a university with a prestigious nursing program, but nobody handed out magical wishes in the Furrs community in Pontotoc County, Mississippi.

If the wish had been offered and taken, I would have missed a few things:

  • The boy with the red-and-white Buick hardtop convertible who took his afternoon work break from his family’s country store shortly after my bus arrived from school.
  • Logically with my schooling paid for, the marriage that took place in my eighteenth summer would have been delayed at least and, with distance not always making the heart grow fonder, might never have happened at all. Truthfully, I don’t even want to consider what that would have entailed with a strange and totally different family. I truly like the one I’ve got.
  • Nor would I really want to consider what I would have lost in the life of a military family when that boy, now my husband, was drafted into the Army with ensuing homes in New Jersey, New York, France, Belgium, Kentucky, Texas, Germany, Louisiana, and now back to Mississippi.
  • As for the nursing program, by the time the two years of community college was complete, I’d made a decision to marry that boy and change majors to education. I continued my new degree goal by commuting to Ole Miss to major in English with plans to become a high school teacher. Over time, I got a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and became certified to teach K-12. I loved the six years I taught kindergarten, the fourteen years I taught second grade, and felt like I’d hit the jackpot when I spent my last seven years teaching a two-hour block of language arts to gifted junior high students.

I have a great deal of appreciation for nurses and may have adapted happily to that life, but there has always been a teacher in me craving to get out. At this point, I’m grateful that economics and that boy with the red Buick determined my future instead of a wish which might have been nice, but would certainly have been second best. There’s an old warning about being careful what you wish for, perhaps because life has something better in store.