Margaret Bekema would have loved to graduate with the rest of the Class of 1936 but life got in the way—almost eight decades of it. The Michigan woman, who had to drop out of high school when she was 17 to look after her mother, who had cancer, and three younger siblings, finally received her diploma from Catholic Central High School on Thursday at the age of 97, reports USA Today. Bekema, who was presented with the diploma in a ceremony senior community, said graduating had been a lifelong dream, the AP reports.
"I had to quit school to take over the family," said Bekema, who did clerical work for the Army during World War II and late worked as a preschool teacher. "It was hard, you have no idea how hard that was. I loved high school and I had lots of friends." One of her two children tells MLive.com that her mother isn't one for complaining, but not graduating from high school was something she always regretted. "She is the type of person that whatever life hands her, she just deals with it very graciously," she says.