In my 20's I used to sing the Beatles' "When I'm 64" to my young husband:
"Will you still need me?Will you still feed me?When I'm 64?"
Need me, feed me, indeed. Those words have come to haunt me this past decade, for it is clear that I have become my own nurturer and will be my sole source of support as I enter my golden years. My savings have been eroded by our nation's terrible economic downturn, and the nest egg I had saved has been reduced substantially.
I had a serious discussion recently with my geriatric parents about my fears for the future. They are still married and living in an addition built onto my brothers' house. My brother, bless his generous heart, looks after them daily. He is still married, surrounded in the same city by his three children, their spouses, and their families. His plans for his old age are solid and he is certain that he will bask in the support of his children and their offspring. My parents bask in my brothers' support and mine.
But what about me?
As I reminded my parents, I am childless and live in a distant city. Oh, I am not complaining, for it is the reality of my life and a consequence of the decisions I made. While I am loved by my nieces and nephew, they would probably not put themselves out for their auntie as much as for their parents. That's just the way it is.
When it comes time for me to retire, sell my house, and move into assisted living, I will largely be alone. Most of my single friends will also be facing the same situation. The prospect of losing control of my life as I age fills me with dread and a great deal of uncertainty.
Many of us who have been through divorce in our mature years are faced with a future that we had not planned on. I was optimistic in my youth, thinking that I would travel extensively with my husband in our retirement and reap the benefits of our hard work. Instead, I was forced to embark on a serious career in my 50s. While my ex has retired with his new wife, I am still working 9-5.
While I am able to compete intellectually with my young co-workers, it has been at great physical and emotional expense. It takes me all weekend to recover from my high-stress job. I no longer party on Friday and Saturday nights, but choose to nurture myself on Saturday and Sundays, taking frequent naps and resting.
There are times when I simply can't envision my future. The thought of being alone in my 70's without sufficient retirement funds is too much contemplate.