I had a conversation today with a 66 year old home care client of mine which has me thinking about things. I’m using this post to put everything down in black and white to help my process. Many of the opinions expressed in this post are not mine, they are the thoughts of a military Mother who hasn’t seen her only son and his family in 3 years. She receives no gift for birthday, Mother’s Day or Christmas. Not even a card or a phone call although she says she has contact with her daughter-in-law via phone.
She stated to me that she was in Facebook and was reading her son’s rants against the re-election of President Obama. He was using phrases like welfare queens, the 47%, moochers, deadbeats, etc. All of which might apply to her in the eyes of many Conservatives.
She’s been collecting Social Security Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, Foodstamps and SSI for at least 20 years. She was on Welfare for a time following her first surgery on her neck. She apparently returned to work and then had to have hip replacement surgery. Since then she’s had 2 minor heart attacks. She suffers from angina, COPD, some circulatory problems and the usual age related arthritis. She tends to be dramatic and tells people she’s in danger of dying at any time. Fear can be an enemy when you age. Trust me, I’m only 3 years younger than she is, I know.
She also tells lies. Outrageous lies that are easy to disprove. Lies that are so outlandish they make it difficult for me to keep a straight face when she tells me one. And she does so for every single minute of the 6 hours a week I am in her home helping her stay independent. This habit is most likely why her son wants no part of her beyond a now and again comment on her Facebook page. I imagine he doesn’t understand that those lies are part and parcel of her loneliness and depression.
She lives on less than $900 a month. Due to the high cost of rents in my area her apartment is subsidized by HUD Section 8. Last year her doctor ordered a motorized wheelchair because of her circulation problems. At times she gets so little blood in her one foot it appears to be bruised. With her leaky heart valve and the lack of circulation walking any distance places too much strain on her damaged heart. With the chair, she can get out to walk her dog or go and do some of her own errands.
If you were to look at her, you would see an attractive woman who looks as if she hasn’t a problem in the world, which contributes to the gossip from some of the other neighbors in the building she lives in. When there’s 127 other tenants there are cliques, and those who have much to say behind the backs of others.
She claims she lost her temper with the opinions of her son, defended herself and others like her by claiming that none of them want to live this way. Her first job paid a whopping $2 and hour and she was thrilled to death to get that much. We, myself included, were raised at a time when women weren’t encouraged to get higher education. We were expected to get husbands to take care of us.
Life wasn’t always kind and relying on the loyalty of a man to support us wasn’t always in the cards, which is what happened to her. She had a son she needed to care for. She did so to the best of her abilities which sometimes meant she had to move to cheaper apartments because her rent went up and her salary didn’t. Sometimes she worked at jobs that didn’t offer benefits because the pay was slightly higher and it meant the difference between feeding both of them or just feeding her son and going to bed hungry. Following the neck surgery she had to live off her retirement savings until they ran out and they qualified for assistance from Welfare until she could go back to work. No health insurance either.
So, now she sits quietly through the insults and the disrespect that she receives from neighbors and her son and that isn’t going to happen any more because, she says, her son in the military is also a member of the “mooching 47%”
She told me that between his base salary and his bonus pay and allowances he makes close to $5000 a month. I checked out the figures on the Army website, and he does.
He lives on base rent free. Gets to shop at the commissary where food prices are considerably less than in the grocery stores. He gets free medical, dental, hearing aids and eyeglasses for himself and family. Can purchase gas for his vehicles cheaper than we can on base. With all this going for him he resents people like his Mom who don’t receive anywhere near the largesse he benefits from.
He believes the Conservative meme that Social Security and Welfare Queens are the problem here in the US. Yet, with everything he has, he can’t ask his Mom if she has enough to live on. He can’t ask her what services she receives and is there anything he can do to help her? He doesn’t know about the motorized wheelchair which was ordered by the doctor. He doesn’t know that her bottom teeth are rotting and she’s getting frequent abscesses which can’t be taken care of because Medicare doesn’t pay for dental. Medicaid pays but she has to find a dentist that accepts it which means traveling to another city and she has no way to get there. Her doctor keeps prescribing antibiotics and she pulls her own teeth when they get loose enough.
He’s trying to make a career out of the Army because he knows he hasn’t the education that will earn him that much money in civilian life. He also knows that if he could make that much money, he’d have living expenses that would eat it up and he’d have to cut back on his toys and travels. He’s serving his country and he’s willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do so. However, I’m not sure that I care to be served and protected by someone who has so little respect for citizens like his mother that he should be caring about. If she and others like her aren’t part of the US he’s proud to serve, why bother to serve unless he’s looking for the freebies the job rewards him with?
Maybe she’s right, maybe he too is a member of the 47%. I hadn’t ever thought about it the way she does. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for our young men and women who are willing to serve this country as it’s defenders. It never occurred to me that our defenders have so little respect for the people of this country.
No matter her story. If she chose to live the way she lives or if it truly was a series of bad luck or bad choices, it doesn’t matter. She’s given her only son to the military and all she has now is the pride that goes with the knowledge that she raised him to honor his country. Too bad he doesn’t care for the people that live in it.