Inside a house in rural Decatur, dusting off the shelf is cause for celebration. Connie Lewis, 47, even made a dance to celebrate the occasion.
After she polishes her moves, and that shelf, Connie will proudly display the newest family heirloom: her son's college acceptance letter.
Damon Lewis will be the first member of his family to attend college, an opportunity his mom never took.
“I’ve made mistakes in my life," she said, fighting back tears.
The weight of skipping out on college is still that heavy. Left with few options, Connie served 20 years in the Army and, since retiring in 2013, she's been working odd jobs, whatever she can, just to get by.
Knowing that, Damon says there was no way he could just pack up and leave his mom behind.
“I gave her the idea of why not get that degree and go for that and do what you want to do,” he said.
"No, I"m too old," she responded.
But Damon was unwavering. He insisted his mom apply for college. And not just any college.
While most kids can't wait to leave and get away from their parents, Damon encouraged his mom to go to college with him, six hours away in Kansas.
"At first, I was like 'I don't know,' but after a while I thought okay that might be fun," she said.
So she applied.
Now, this fall, Damon will be the first in his family to attend college and Connie, at the age of 48, will be the second.
"I'm really proud of my mom," Damon said. "She finally did something she never thought she would do. Now she can take on the world."
"Even if you don't think you can do something, at least try," Connie said. "And then maybe you'll see, 'okay, yeah, I can do this.'"
And pretty soon, she can dust more space to add two college diplomas.
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