Note: Please don’t take offence and please know that everything I tell you has happened. Only the names have been changed to protect the stupid, though why, I don’t know. Have fun with it and see what you can relate to, because if I took everything that has happened in my life too seriously, I would be a basket case.
I will go back to my work place of over 10 years periodically, but for now, let’s go back to when I turned 60. All my life I had worked hard, done all the “right things” as dictated to me by my family and society, so no one was more surprised than me to find myself living alone with a massive mortgage I couldn’t pay and feeling like my world, as I knew it, was ending. Of course it wasn’t, how stupid was I, but hey, I am allowed and did, feel sorry for myself for awhile.
Just before I turned 60, I came home from work one day to find a yellow sticky note on my kitchen bench from my hubby, the man I had known nearly all my life. It basically said that he had buggered off with some woman he had known five minutes and I was never to contact him again. Of course, the first thing I did was try to contact him! I didn’t know we had a problem. I needed to find out if this was some sort of sick joke and maybe someone else had put the sticky note, which left annoying marks on my granite bench. Now who I thought would do such an incredibly stupid thing, is still a mystery to me, but for a very short time, I hoped someone who hated me had broken in and done just that. I know what you are thinking, “what a stupid, stupid woman”, but don’t forget, I hadn’t quite turned the magical, extremely smart age of 60 yet.
After several attempts at calling my husband and being abused by what was I assume a woman with no breeding and a mouth like a sewer, I gave up. Maybe she was one of those ‘people’ who called me at work constantly. At the very least, she must have gone to the same school for polite people that they went to. I was 58 years old, with a house I didn’t want and could not manage on my own and no way of paying for it.
By the time I turned 60, I had sold my home at a loss, declared bankruptcy and moved out. You see, my husband had left owing lots of money I knew nothing about and the market had fallen out of the housing boom. I tried for a year to keep up, but it was never going to happen and the father of my children stopped working, went on a drinking and gambling spree with his floozy and left me to pay for everything. No wonder he could only afford yellow sticky notes to inform me our marriage was over.
No one cares if you are 60, on a minimum wage and in debt through no fault of your own. No one is interested that you keep paying but the reason you are in this mess just lives off the government and is not required to pay anything, so you battle on. The vultures start to circle and you get too scared to answer the phone. It’s quite comical, because you start to think of all sorts of ways to avoid talking to these people. You are still paying, using every cent you have, but that is not enough. Familiar, anyone? Did you know that a debt collector can take you to court without you knowing and the court can order money taken from your wages without discussing it with you? They call it garnishing. Definition of garnishing: to decorate to enhance or embellish. Who or what was being enhanced or embellished? Certainly not me or my lifestyle. One more example of the bloody system working for the rich.
Anyway, at 60 I am alone, I have low self esteem and can’t seem to pull myself up and shake myself off. One morning, I awoke, and instead of nothing in my belly, there was a fire. It’s time, I told myself, to take stock of your life and do something! Never mind the ex who will get what’s coming to him, never mind the narrow-minded people at work who seem to think I must have done something to deserve this, get up Fran, stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something.
Of course this is easier said than done. The first thing was to turn up at work with a smile. Well that will be easy you say. It was, the trick was to keep smiling. As Kandy always points out, there are people in this world just waiting for you to fall flat on your face, so it wasn’t surprising when I encountered this from people who had told me to “get over it”. When I start to get over it, they want me to be nothing but a misery guts.
I took myself over to the debt collector’s office. This man thinks a woman should be home barefoot and pregnant. Then he realises I’m too old to be pregnant, so his approach is to talk to me as though my hearing has diminished, my mental capacity is shrinking and I have lost the ability to think for myself. He keeps calling me dear. One more time and I will be arrested for decking him! I finally got to have a say and his only suggestion was for me to quit my job. “Are you a moron?” I heard someone saying. Oops, it was me. See I’m not perfect, but what do you expect when there is a bloody moron standing in front of me.
I didn’t quit my job, I stayed for two years after that, got my life in order, gained a university degree and moved on. Of course the moron is still there. We used to have parking in the same place and one day he pulled out of his space and backed straight into my parked car. He got his insurance company to call me and tell me that he would pay his damages and I would pay mine. I told his insurance company to take a hike. He paid both his and mine. Did they really think at 60-something, I had become that stupid, or was it because I was a woman? We will never know.
As for my ex – that’s the best part. I ran into him a few weeks ago. The 20kg I have lost since we have parted, he obviously has found. He says he is sorry and the “grass was not greener” – his words. He says he wants to come back because he knows what he gave up. I call that karma girls, don’t you? My answer was simple: “Take a flying leap”.
So, as we move on, through these chapters, we will see where 60-something takes us. Have we become stupid? I think not! Do men see us differently to the 60-something males they know? Now don’t get testy guys, but I think a lot of men do. Does society think a 60-something woman can be treated any way society chooses and will take it? I think yes in general. But I am here to tell you, we will stand up and be counted. We will speak up, we will expose these people for what they are – we will be 60-something and proud!
Do you agree with Fran? Have you been in her shoes before? Tell us your thoughts and stories below.