Spinster septuagenarian Ella Bishop, on the brink of retirement from her fifty-two year career as the freshman English teacher at small town Midwestern University, her alma mater, wants to look toward the future, but can't help reflect upon her past, what brought her to this point. Although she always wanted to be a teacher and was both surprised and ecstatic when her mentor, Midwestern's then President James Corcoran, offered her the English teacher opening upon graduation, she only saw it as one short phase of her life until she got married and had a family, unlike her younger cousin, Amy Saunders, who solely needed romance and love to feel fulfilled. She thinks about the two men with who she was mutually in love and would have married if she could have if it not for one circumstance or another, and the one man whose love for her was and is unrequited, at least in the romantic sense, but who was and has always been there for her. Although never haven given birth to a child of her own, she thinks about the many to who she has acted as a mother or grandmother either in a practical and/or emotional sense, including her many students, some who have gone on to great things, her niece Hope who she practically raised, and her grand-niece, Gretchen. She also thinks about having stayed at Midwestern in her home town, her career which was not always smooth sailing, especially with the changing times.