Applause erupted and people rose to their feet as 85-year-old Claire Ritchey walked across the stage at Parkview Adventist Academy in Lacombe, Alberta, to receive her high school diploma. More than six decades after Ritchey left high school following her completion of grade 11, she finally achieved this lifelong goal.
Ritchey worked in the field of accounting for 30 years while she and her husband, Donald, now deceased, raised three children. Not having a high school diploma, however, “bothered me all my life,” the Lacombe Express reported Ritchey as saying. “I’d dream about going back to school.”1
Taking classes with students much younger than she didn’t intimidate the young-at-heart Ritchey. “I’m 85, and I probably look it, but I don’t feel it,” she said during a local radio interview. “I hope [my earning this diploma] has inspired other older people to . . . follow their dream.”2
To those of us who haven’t been dubbed “young adults” for more years than we may like to admit, Ritchey’s story provides hope for the future. Perhaps there are still exciting experiences ahead, significant miles for our lives in ever-expanding ways.
God calls us to “make continual improvement,” no matter what the age, and allows us no excuse to totally “lay our burdens down” or no longer minister to others.3 It’s never too late to do work for the Lord or learn new things; and to those of us who are no longer young, I’m confident that God isn’t finished with us yet.