Wendy sat uncomfortably on a straight-backed chair. That morning she had decided to put away her husband’s trousers which had constantly needed altering. Cancer had reduced his size dramatically, and it broke her heart with every pair she stitched. After his death she needed a new project, a new direction.
“Ms Lawson, you can go in now.”
Wendy’s head jerked toward the direction of the receptionist, who nodded for her to go in.
Shoving a handful of material into her large handbag, she entered the room. Colin Appleby must have been the world’s tallest college president. He towered over her tiny, four-foot-eleven, slender body like a lamppost.
“Hello, um… Ms Lawson,” he said, referring briefly to his notes, “welcome to our college. Please, sit down.” He closed the door and directed her to a leather chair. “Ms Lawson,—or would you prefer that I call you Wendy?”
“Not at all,” she managed.
“It’s not often we have someone as…um…er…”
“It’s okay to say I’m old, Mr. Appleby. After all, I’m old enough to be your mother.”
“Please Mother, call me Colin. I feel ridiculous enough as it is. Why on earth do you want to start a college course now? Dad’s only been dead four months, for goodness sake.”
“Would you prefer I remarried or begin a sewing class?”
Colin sighed. “No, I guess not.”
“Well then, let’s get on with it. I’ve always wanted to do something in Literature.”
“Well, at least that’s a fairly sedate subject,” he replied.
“Sedate? What do you think; I’m going to nod off in one of your lectures? Besides, I’ve also decided to join the gym. I see there’s a vacancy for a volunteer, and don’t look at me like that. My instructor’s license is still valid and I could do with the exercise.”
“All right, here’s the list of classes you’ll be attending this semester. I’ll be teaching your Latin class on Wednesdays and Fridays. Professor Steven Carmichael, Dad’s replacement, will be marking your assignments—to keep everything above board. He’s also been widowed recently and I’ve asked him to give you a tour of the campus. Any questions?”
She pointed to a trophy behind her son. “Yes, one; what do I need to do to earn that?”
Colin turned to face a large gold, star-shaped trophy. “That—is Dad’s Memorial Trophy; our ‘Gold STAR Award.’ A replica will be presented for the first time at this year’s graduation ceremony. If you want to earn one, Mother, you’ll have to work hard over the next four years.”
Six months later, a notice appeared in the college paper and on bulletin boards across campus.
The Student Lobby Group is pleased to announce their new president,
Wendy Lawson-Appleby, affectionately known as, ‘Mother.’ This is
the first time a freshman has held this position.
Student Profile: Wendy’s favorite subject is Latin. Her ambition is to
replace her Latin teacher by the time she graduates. She’s recently
introduced a popular ‘Sewing Club’ for students and staff.
You can find our new president in the gym on Tuesday and Thursday
mornings. However, we warn you to be early, as our membership is
the highest on record.
Wendy stood nervously at the end of the stage remembering: the first six months had been the hardest. She had missed her husband dearly—and still did, at times. Study and sewing had helped her ease some memories and sew new ones. She smoothed out her hand-sewn graduation gown with pride. Professor Steven Carmichael winked at her when the next name was announced.
The auditorium erupted in applause and whistles. It was the most thrilling moment of her life. She shook Colin’s hand before accepting the rolled-up diploma. She faced the audience and waved before stepping down to join her class.
Following the last presentation, President Appleby moved to the microphone. “And now… for our ‘Gold STAR Award,’ which is presented to the Valedictorian of the senior class. This year’s award goes to…'Wendy Lawson-Appleby’.”
The standing ovation continued, unrestrained, for several minutes. As she accepted the trophy, Wendy saw the admiration in her son’s face. Graduates threw their caps in the air. Then the man who had shown her around campus that first day, her own professor Steven, ignored protocol and gave Wendy a big hug. With her four year sewing project finally completed, she could concentrate on the next—her wedding dress.
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