Thursday, December 15, 2011

She Deserves Better!

Yesterday I spent a few hours with a 74-year-old woman as she waited to visit with her eye doctor. She needs injections every two months to combat encroaching blindness. The shots cost $4.350.00.
At 74 Betty Lou (not her real name) works 27-30 hours a week for a national grocery chain. She is paid $9.17 per hour. She has worked in the same store for the last 15 years. She stays because she needs the health care benefits and the little that goes towards some dream of retiring, for at least a few years. She lives in subsidized housing constantly afraid she will lose the meager monies that keep her in her tiny apartment.
Betty Lou never attended high school because she needed to help out at home with the children that followed her on to the planet. As a young adult she tried to get back into school while she held down various waitress jobs.  Her father’s untimely death and the onslaught of Parkinson’s to a sibling brought her back home to care for her brother. A younger sister had arrived with Down syndrome, requiring a watchful eye, resources and time from mom. A year after beginning to care for her brother her mother had a stroke debilitating her. Years went by taking care of these three family members. She got some state help and some help from family but that soon dried up. She shored up the financial challenges by babysitting after school for neighbors.
Years rolled by with Betty Lou meeting each challenge as best she could with the limited options at her disposal.
She never married. She told me she only had two dates in her life. She isn’t sorry about never marrying or having children of her own. She has story after story about the kids she sat for and how they are doing such and such now. She is invited to one family’s home for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.
She is content. She may or may not be happy. I don’t know.
Betty Lou got her GED last year through a local community college. She is very proud of the certificate and reminds any who will listen that “education is one of the keys to bringing one to the doorway of opportunity.”
It’s too late for Betty Lou. No big new opportunities are likely to jump up at the store beyond the hoped for “dime” an hour the union is attempting to bring to her pocket book.
Betty Lou is just one of many trying to cope in a system that seems to be way out of whack. She is afraid when she hears politicians talking about cutting back this and that, as she knows without the little income she gets from her job she will die on the streets. She has outlived family and has no where to go if anything else should happen to her…
We can help all the Betty Lou’s if we just take the time to re-visit our priorities and define what kind of a country we really want to live in-


  1. Thank you so much for taking time to see, and share the humanity and inspiration of this woman!

  2. When did we decide to sell our souls as a nation? Was it Viet Nam? We have been in the business of greedily exporting darkness for so long that the by-products have come home to roost. We have eviscerated ourselves and every day we allow people like "Betty Lou" to be sacrificed so that others might prosper. Perhaps we can only save ourselves, others, our nation and our world by stopping the insanity and living as if we have deeps roots in the earth and among each other. I pray for this awakening.

  3. Not sure when we lost it but it seems that we have-maybe the system has to really crash before we change