My former company is now in bankruptcy. The last two years I worked there was fraught with staff shortages, cutting back of hours and salary. “NO OVERTIME!” was mandatory. Many employees had little or no benefits regarding medical and pension benefits. Staff was keep at skeleton levels and stores were closed. Prices for dry cleaning and Laundromat usage were increased; our customer base was shrinking. Many new Laundromat and dry cleaners opened up and we no longer enjoyed the popularity and profits we once had. To compound all these difficulties, my left side, from foot to neck, was half as strong as the right. Beginning in the year 2000, when I had a TIA, I thought I might have another stroke from the heavy burdens and responsibilities I carried. In the last nine months I worked, I fractured my left ankle severely and hobbled on it in great pain. I took no time off. I had no health insurance for the stroke or the fractured ankle. Added to all this, I was the primary caregiver of my dad who suffered and died from Parkinson’s disease during those very years of decline.
I cannot say whether I would have fared as well if it had not been for the help of my friends who were the source of great support. They willingly gave of themselves at a time when I was in great need. I cannot say my employers were even mindful or caring enough. For them, the staff was employees only. Thank God for true friends who are there through thick and thin, good times and bad. A person can endure illness, poverty, unemployment, and even grief when wonderful friends are nearby. I will remember their kindness to me forever. Friendship is the virtue of excellence, consisting of compassion, generosity, and the unselfishness of humanity.
After my TIA, I took the best care of my health by walking every day, eating well, and going to bed early. I drank soymilk and took my vitamins. I sill swear by my Geritol! Menopause was not particularly difficult for me, but caring for my dad was extremely difficult. Parkinson’s eventually crippled him and he became a helpless invalid who needed help dressing, bathing, and eating. He could no longer enjoy his ordinary everyday routines. Although I was glad to keep him from a nursing home, I began to suffer great fatigue and stress. I was having chest and arm pains on the left side. I began to black out. I was afraid for myself.
My mom had died in 1983 from a massive heart attack. My brother died last February in his sleep. He was the first of five siblings to pass away and it was a shock! My cousins suffered three auto accidents within their family which caused severe disability. I have endured but I think the past five years of my life surely have been the most difficult ever. Not because my incapacity to cope, but because of the sheer number of life-changing events.
There is not much help for women in their late fifties, especially those who have medical issues. Even family will shun me when I complain too much. It seems everyone is younger than me. Employers prefer younger and capable people. Unless people over the age of fifty can keep up, physically and developmentally, they will find it very difficult to find employment. Although unemployment benefits are available, cutbacks must be made and only necessities can be purchased. Savings may be tapped. I have eaten at community suppers by local churches. I have been able to obtain food from local food banks. I have applied for many jobs but have had little luck.
After two years of being unemployed, I have recently found work online. I review Web sites. I also score online tests for a national test scoring company. I am writing every day and applying for work everywhere I find an opportunity. Working from home would relieve my health problems as well as my financial ones. I have put my house up for sale in the hopes of simplifying my life and relieving myself of the responsibility of owning a home. Hopefully, I will enjoy Mother’s Day with my sister and attend our family reunion in July.