"My Nana had 10 children. She was a single mother, an African American, and was living in the inner city of Boston. She had one dream: get a college education. When you are a single mother raising 10 children in the inner city as a minority, you don’t get to chase dreams like that. She had reality to deal with. So she put her dreams into her children. She made sure every single one of them attended higher education.
When she was able to dream for herself again, her mind wandered back to her own aspirations. She had every reason in the book to settle. She had been a good mother, she had raised successful children, and she had stayed committed to her faith. She had done everything right, and no one would have thought she fell short if motherhood was her only accomplishment. And yet, at 70, my Nana attended Harvard University.
In many ways, she is the reason I started studying stories. That one story, of my 70-year-old Nana sitting in a Harvard classroom, made me believe that I, too, could dream crazy dreams, and that God would bring me to my purpose if I could be patient.
Sometimes the beauty of the story is in the time it took you to fulfill your promise. My Nana going to Harvard at 20, or 30, or 40 would be impressive, but it wouldn’t necessarily bring tears to my eyes. It is the thought of her 70-year-old body walking across a college campus that propels me. Nana decided that if she wasn’t dead, her dream wasn’t either.
I’ve studied stories for the past 5 years because I know what they can do. I know that when everything else seems gone, a story can keep you going. Your story matters. And if you aren’t dead, your dreams aren’t either."
Heather Thompson Day is a Christian author and professor of Communications for Andrews University.