Click Your Heels—Then Make Your Plans
3 September 2009 711 views No Comment
For Where , with Whom, and How You Will Live for the Rest of Your Life By Kathleen Deragon Photo by Bazzlestock Dorothy clicked the heels of her red shoes together and said, “There’s no place like home.” I agree with what she said, but she had pigtails and was able to go home to Auntie Em. I cut off my pigtails years ago, refuse to wear heels, and have no Auntie Em to go home to. I’m a single older woman (you decide for yourself how old “older” is; for me, it’s anyone over 50 – I’m 60) who is giving some serious thought to what home will mean for me in this last stage of my life. I know I’m not alone in admitting that occasionally fears of the “bag lady syndrome” have chilled my heart, especially given the recent economic crisis. But the Pollyanna in me believes there is enough to go around—we just need to come together and discuss ways we can ensure we will have roofs over our heads, ways to leverage our financial and personal resources, and how to connect to a community that will nurture us. And I hope to help you do that in an upcoming series of articles. When I moved here eight years ago, I met many older single women, especially after I started working as editor of the Women’s Press. Often these older women would talk about what life would be like when they left the workplace—would they be able to stay in their homes, still live in SLO County, what activities would they engage in, what would their support system be when aging slowed them down and challenged them with health problems? Out of personal self-interest, I’ve been reading and researching options for myself. The biggest insight I’ve had is that to get what we need and want, we need to create it now before we are too infirm to do the work it will take. Who the “we” is here is important. “We” are women who understand the importance of human connections in both families and communities. To manifest a secure future for ourselves, we will be creating and re-imagining the role of community in our lives. We will explore how to share the caring about and for one another, in what kind of structures we will live in and with whom. The result of our work will be as unique as we are unique. Think about it. We are the first population of women in human history that had access to birth control during our child-bearing years, which gave us the freedom to get educated, hold down a job, and have financial and personal independence unknown – though not unimagined – by our foremothers. So, of course, our waning years will also look different from those of the women who preceded us. How they will look is something we need to gather and discuss with one another now and take action soon so we will be sure we can live the life we imagine. I welcome your thoughts about this topic as I myself continue to explore it. Go to womenspress.slo.org and comment.