Going back to school is supposed to be one of those really nice perks of retirement. In the Fall of 2012, a couple of writing friends and I decided to take a short story writing class at Winthrop University.
I had no idea what to expect. Going to college at my age? What would the “youngsters” think of this gray-haired lady? If I didn’t do well, could I claim diminished capacity?
I did have an advantage over my companions: all of my undergraduate work was completed at Winthrop–while it was still Winthrop College. But in the forty years since graduation, my hair had turned from brown to gray, my steps had slowed, and I had lived through many life events. I had high hopes that those experiences had simmered long enough on the back burner of my mind and that the stories that I wrote would be enriched by drawing from that tasty stew.
Scott Ely was the the professor of the writing class. He had taught at Winthrop for several decades and had written a number of novels as well as short stories. Class was conducted in a small room with an oblong conference table. The ten college-age students selected seats on the opposite side of the table from my two friends and me. A common desire to write united us all. And, yes, my friends and I enrolled in the class for a second time in the Fall of 2013.
Earlier Scott had informed us that he had had cancer but was in remission. But when he became so ill in the Fall of 2013 that he had to resign, we were all surprised. His death at the end of October came as a complete shock. I felt the loss of not just a professor, but a friend and mentor. He was gone too soon. He still had many more stories to write.