Monday, November 24, 2008

The Economy Sucks. My Mom Suffers.

My mother has lost her job. My 72-year-old mother who has been at her current place of employment for thirty years has lost her job. What meager retirement she had left was wiped out by the current stock market situation.

My mother has been working since she was 9. She was left back several times in school because she missed so many days in order to work to help support her family (her father was an alcoholic and my mother was the eldest of 4 children). She never attended high school. When she was 16, she dropped out of school (due to being left back, she wasn't even in high school at that time) so that she could work full-time.

She's had a string of bad luck with the companies for which she has worked in the past. Several of them have gone out of business leaving her with worthless retirement stocks invested in those companies (or their poorly run parent companies).

Her current company tried to find a buyer, but with no luck. They announced last week that they would close by the end of the year.

My mother saw it coming. She and my father have been paying off debts and making plans to sell the house, move out of state, and buy a much smaller home. They will be selling the home where I grew up. This is the home where my father grew up. This is the home where four generations of my family have lived. When you look in the back of my high school yearbook, under my name, you'll find the exact same address listed under my father's name in his yearbook 37 years prior.

My mother has surgery scheduled for January. She refuses to use state aid for medical care because she insists she wants to reserve that for those who need it. We have yet to see if her current insurance (offered through her work) will still be available. This is my mother, who went for her six week postpartum visit after my birth and didn't go back to another doctor until I was twenty. She is most definitely not a hypochondriac. This is absolutely necessary surgery. I don't know if she'll be able to afford it when the time comes.

I can't quite wrap my head around it. I just can't believe it. We survived so much. I remember, as a small child, hearing my parents talk about selling the house when the economy wasn't so strong. I also remember the wake of the Clinton administration when their house was appraised at a value so high it shocked us. Now, though, they can fight no longer. They can't afford to weather this storm. And so, the house will pass to strangers' hands (at a fraction of the actual value) and my elderly parents will be forced to start over amid the uncertainty.


Robin said...

I'm so sorry. So much sorrier than words can say.

Leora said...

Thank you for leaving a message on my blog; I would have never found you otherwise.

I'm sorry you are having such a hard time, and your mom is, too.

One note: my father sold the house I grew up in a few years ago. Nothing to do with the economy, it was just time to move on. That was hard for me, to say goodbye to that house.

I hope your mother's surgery goes well, and she is willing to take the state aid. It most definitely is there for her. You can tell her we pay a lot of taxes, and we mean those taxes to be for her.

Phyllis Sommer said...

i'm so sorry.

i am with leora - when i think of people who deserve our tax-money, i think just exactly of people like your mom - people who have been active and important members of society and need a little assistance in a rough patch. this is what it's really there for.