"Live a good life, and in the end, it's not the years in the life, it's the life in the years."

When I grow up

By on November 24, 2019 in Columnist with 0 Comments

By Constance Nelson Bean

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” was a common question for little girls growing up in the late 1930s and ’40s. 

Many of us were asked such questions as young children. Truly, if all little girls had become nurses and the little boys had become firemen from that era, an oversupply would surely exist today. 

But as with many things that are said and experienced along the way of growing up, situations and experiences happen that change the direction of our lives, sometimes well planned, sometimes shaped by our environment and sometimes they just randomly happen. 

I can remember the first thing I wanted to be was a “mommy,” as I played with my little sister, our dolls and my neighborhood girlfriends. We would build tents in the summer with sheets in the back yard under a big willow tree. When it got too hot, we turned on the sprinkler and pretended we were at the ocean on vacation. 

I do remember wanting to become a movie star in middle grade school. My girlfriends and I wrote to many movie stars hoping for a picture with an autograph. 

I was sure Roy Rogers would wait for me to grow up so I could be his wife and ride away on Trigger, his horse. 

We wrote him enough letters and drew enough pictures of Trigger that all were sure he would remember us. Was I ever disappointed when he married Dale Evans!

Then came the comic strip, Brenda Starr, Reporter. This had some potential as a realistic career as I loved to write stories and poems. 

An added attraction was her mystery man who wore a patch over one eye. When he visited, he always left a black orchid behind. 

Being a newspaper reporter would be grand fun. But I knew what a terrible speller I was. So, this, too, I felt was a fantasy that would not happen. 

The years passed and all during this time I wrote in my diary and wrote stories and illustrated them with pictures. 

I also was asked to write last-minute essays for high school girlfriends. 

Writing in long hand was tiresome as most of us had not learned to type yet. I loved doing this but the agreement was, they would correct my spelling. It was a deal.

I just never learned to spell easily, as I grew up in a two-language home (My father came to the United States as a 13-year-old Russian orphan). 

I was a voracious reader, but a non-speller. My teachers never could understand this weird combination I seemed to thrive on.

Life has a way of stepping in and I was on the way to becoming wife, mother and a teacher. It was a full and satisfying career. My spelling improved, too, as I was blessed with two dear husbands who had taken Latin in high school. They were marvelous proofreaders for my writing.

Then technology entered my life with a computer of my very own. What a gift! The computer had spell check! 

Suddenly, I could write anything, and check it myself. I finally gained the confidence to write and let others read my material.

So here I am, chasing the ninth decade of my life and I am doing what I loved to do as a little girl. 

I am having the best time writing about everyday things that have made up my life. I am a writer. In fact, I am a published writer because The Good Life has published some of my articles. 

Brenda Starr, I can do this! I may not have a mystery man who leaves me black orchids, but I have been blessed with a full life that has allowed me to answer the big question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” 

I want to be a writer, and so I am. 

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