From an Older Working-Class Woman

I am a female, born and living in the United States, age sixty-five, raised and always working class, a military veteran, and the mother of an adult daughter. Income inequality, housing, and health care are key issues for working-class women.

I have struggled financially all of my life, especially when raising my daughter. I currently live alone in an increasingly gentrified neighborhood. The property taxes on my home—now a fourth of my yearly income—have steadily gone up as the houses around me have been torn down to build huge new ones.

Because of my low income, I recently qualified for health care from the Veterans Administration (VA). This has been a great relief to me, after having gone years without health care. About two years ago I was in a bicycle accident that required an emergency room visit for a fractured rib, a concussion, and stitches over one eye. The bill for that three-hour visit was over $20,000, which is what I earn in a year. Thankfully, it was covered by the VA.

My four closest female friends have been in my life since our children were young. We are all divorced and in our sixties. We often discuss how we will manage our lives as we grow older and worry about what will happen if we become sick or lose our ability to work. 

Though we worry about money, health, and holding on to our relevance as we age, we seem happier now than we’ve ever been. I think this is partly because for many years we haven’t been in relationships with men. We haven’t been mired in that constant sexism, male domination, and corresponding internalized sexism that can wear you down, day after day.

Recently the five of us have been talking about a plan: when we’re older and no longer have jobs, we will all live together. I think that in the future more women (and men) will live communally—because it’s a connected, human way to live, not just because it makes financial sense.

“Mustang Sally”

Also printed in Older and Bolder No. 7

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00