The 66 year old man travelled a long distance to come to our meeting. He explained that he had retired the previous year and, since the house had been totally repainted, the garden perfect and the dog walked to the point of sheer exhaustion – he was looking for something else to do.

The client explained that he had come from a large family of few resources. He had always liked school and his parents made many sacrifices to make sure that he did his Leaving Cert. He made sure that he got a job as quickly as possible to “pay them back”. It mattered little what he did and he took the first stable job he found.

He had always loved to read. When he was young, he often got into trouble with his father when he was found reading rather that doing his chores on the farm. His job involved office work and numbers. He knew it never really suited him, but it allowed him to support his parents and later to provide for his family.

The client completed a full psychometric assessment. It revealed that, not only had he an interest in literature, he was also very verbally intelligent. The Interest Inventory also revealed a passion for teaching. A plan was gradually formed. He would complete a “Return to Learning” course at the University with a view to eventually completing an Arts Degree in English.

“Ah, it’s all very well to say all that in here, but if I said that to ‘The Missus’, she would think I was pure daft. Anyway, I would have to spend the week up here – she would get too lonely.”

“The Missus”, however, took an entirely different view. She had listened for years to her husband saying how he would have loved to have the opportunities that the young people have today. Now he had them, so it was up to him to make the most of it. As for her being lonely – she had made so many plans with “the girls” that she would not have a spare minute!

Now it was all up to him – and all of his worst fears came up! He was far too old – all the rest of the students would be teenagers. What would he do afterwards – he would never get a job teaching. He would be over 70 when he qualified. What would he do all week? He knew no-one in the city. It was a big and very courageous step to take.

And he took it. He astonished himself how well he did academically. The rest of the students were much younger, but they suddenly got a new “granddad” – he was also the one some students could come to if they needed an extra hand. He finally got to do what he always wanted to do – read without anyone telling him to stop!

He graduated, came home, started to give grinds and instilled a love of English in many a student in his vicinity.