My friend Elli has never given birth, never adopted, never taken primary responsibility for an infant, a toddler or an adolescent.
But on the far side of 65, she finds herself playing the role of mother.
At the beginning of each school year, she’s likely to be helping one of her college-age boys move into his freshman dorm. At the end, she’s at a commencement, beaming as another of her boys finishes his four years and receives his diploma.
The boys are from Zimbabwe, where Elli has spent extensive time over the past decade and where she met many poor, bright teenagers determined to study in America.
She not only guided them through the application and financial aid process, but also remained one of the central figures in their lives.