Starting Over

Starting over is hard.

You think you’ve got your course charted and all you have to do from here on is follow it. But then Life says, “Nope! Start over! You have to reinvent yourself now.” I’ve had to do it – a couple of plenty times.

Mama had to do it too. I came across this artifact of her start over. (First picture – Legal Terminology and Secretarial Procedures Course Certificate.)

This wasn’t in her plan – completing this course to refresh her skills – for this next career she hadn’t planned on having.

She had gone to Business School after high school, then worked as a stenographer and secretary. (Pictured with co-workers at that job below, circa 1945.)

After she married, she again worked as a secretary until she had her first child in 1950. From that point on, the plan was wife, mother, homemaker.

Then, about 25 years into this plan. I said 25. Years. More than half of her entire life at that point – when she had two grown children, two teenaged children, and four grandchildren, Life said, “Start over! Figure out how to work outside the home again! Become a legal secretary, and do that until you retire!”

So, she did that. (Pictured at her desk at West Texas Legal Services somewhere between late 70s and 1991.)

Looking at the framed certificate from 1978 now, I’m so proud of her. She should have been more celebrated for what she accomplished. When she completed this course, she was just shy of 52. I was 16. I knew in part what she was going through – to the depth a 16-year-old could understand it. But I know it much more deeply now. I know how hard that was.

She did the hard things. She didn’t complain. She took care of herself. And she took care of us.


About dahnajeen

I'm Donna Jean Hunter. I'm also Donna Cox - former married name and the name I share with my children and with my ex-husband, father of my children, and friend, David Cox. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Patterson told me I was a great writer and would be an author when I grew up. She always had me read my stories to the class, and even took me around to the other classrooms to have me read to them. I'm pretty sure the other kids all hated me that year. I don't care though. I love Mrs. Patterson. Of course she did not know then about the Internet and blogging, how much of what people read would no longer be on paper - and how much of it would be done for free! - when I grew up. I have had 10 or 12 of my pieces published in college literary journals, and for a while during college, I actually received pay for working as a technical writer. Then for a few years I taught writing to teenagers as a high school English teacher. But other than that, I can't say I'm a writer in the sense that it is what I do for a living. But I am a writer. I have been all my life and can’t see myself ever stopping whether anyone reads it or not. I hope someone enjoys some of it.
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3 Responses to Starting Over

  1. Nancy Lynn says:

    Aww. I love you and I loved your mom. She was exactly what I needed. I had a very good, but not very loving mother. She didn’t snap to that fact until just before she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Then died 4 months later. She was 88 and I was 66 when she died. Nearly 12 years later, I’m still angry at her for getting cancer and dying. Not because she smoked or anything real – for getting mortally ill and then dying now that she had just realized maybe her daughter could use at least her friendship. And we had made plans damnit for lazy days at the beach in Galveston where she lived with my dad who was definitely gonna die way before her. He lived for 5 more years.
    Your mom showed me love-she always had my back AND she took care of our clients, too. Mainly she was the kind and loving woman who served me. And I was able to serve her when they tried to lay her off due to federal cuts in our income. I’m so glad she remembered me till nearly the end of her days.
    So, perhaps there is no God. Maybe it’s all in perception. I’m very sure there is a kind spirit somewhere in the universe who has blessed me beyond measure. I hardly believe in coincidences, either.
    I’m grateful that you published “Starting Over” to me. You ARE a gifted writer. And I should know. I wrote for a living 9 years of my life. Most of it was not legalese, but it did involve legal matters and, sometimes, persuasive writing. Many good and/or horrific stories.
    Goodnight sweet friend, grandmother, mother, worker, author. 🤗

    • Nancy Lynn says:

      And I read hundreds of briefs. Mostly BORING. Now, if you were writing them…..
      Probably would be interesting! How could that work out? Hmmm
      Something to ponder.

      • dahnajeen says:

        Thank you so much, dear friend. I’m so glad she had you. I remember that time when that new office manager treated her so terribly – did everything she could to get Mama to give up and quit to make her solve her federal budget cut problem. She took a skilled and experienced, many years with the company at that point Legal Secretary, relegated her to Switchboard Operator. She changed the rules just for Mama, made it as difficult as possible for her while she was learning a brand new set of skills (and probably still being asked by some of the lawyers to do work for them while answering thousand phone calls a day.) Then she wrote her up formally in less than a week for some made up mistake. She also told her that she “sure was a high paid Switchboard Operator!” That’s because she’s a Legal Secretary, bitch!

        Mama didn’t say it that way of course, but she did stand up for herself – formally and in writing with your help, thank you so much – and won. I also recently found some of the papers related to this issue, which included Mama’s skillful writing evidencing her keen intellect. Did me so much good reading that after watching her poor little brain going away so slowly but surely the last few years.

        May I share your comment on Facebook for people who will not see it here?

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