October 29-31, 1970
Halloween was upon us. Though we doubted trick ‘r treaters would climb to the 3rd floor, Nate and I bought a little candy, just in case. We also chose two pumpkins – one plump, the other tall. Carving them on the kitchen floor, we had as much fun as if we’d been grade-school kids.
Afterwards we lit them up with a couple of old candle stubs and set them on the fireplace hearth where they seemed to decorate the whole room. The two of us sat in the dusky pumpkin-light for a long time, talking about future decisions.
That’s when Nate said something completely unexpected. “Have you ever thought about getting a masters degree?”
This came out of nowhere. “What do you mean?” I said. “A masters in what? And where? And how would we pay for it? And what about my brain? Doesn’t it belong in a kindergarten room?”
None of that stopped him. “Depending on what the Army does with me, it won’t be long till I’ll be supporting us both. And since Chicago is no longer hiring provisional teachers, maybe you should just go back to school.”
This was spoken by someone who loved being a student. I’d made only average grades in college and had never once experienced a rush of joy at opening a fresh textbook or reading a new syllabus.
“You could study writing,” he said. “Just think how much fun it would be to learn more about what you already love.”
He had a point. I’d been trying to sell some of my writing in recent weeks without any success, so learning more might help. “But could I even get in?”
“Oh sure,” I said. “I’d never get in there.”
But as the jack ‘o lantern candles burned down and finally flickered out, I felt a little flicker of enthusiasm inside – about the school idea. Nate was right. It couldn’t hurt to try.
The next morning my kindergarteners came to class in costumes, and we set aside our regular schedule to party and to participate in the all-school Halloween parade. Many of the parents joined us, bringing extra treats, so the kids were sufficiently sugar-saturated by the end of the day.
Around 5:00 PM, I trudged up the steps to our apartment where Nate greeted me with kisses and questions. “How were the parties? What about the parade? Did the kids say anything funny today?”
“The whole day was a delight,” I said, “but I’m really tired. I didn’t expect so many parents, each one asking how their student was doing in school. I couldn’t remember who was whose mother or what each child had learned. It was stressful! We made it, though, and they all left happy. I’m just glad the weekend’s here!”
Nate’s weekend would be spent studying… but I would be happily dipping chocolate candy.
”Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)