November 22, 2009
As promised today I will tell you about Pam. When I arrived at my new location it was late evening, this did not allow for my usual ritual of finding my way around and scouting out a homeless shelter which accommodates women. When I got off the bus I went outside and flagged down the first taxi in the line. I had $15.70 in my pocket (ok actually in my handbag). The driver was a woman about my age; I told her where I was going and asked how close $15 would get me to my destination. She said that would get me to the shelter but she would like me to share her story. So I enthusiastically agreed... every person out here has a story to tell, some are just more interesting then others.
Pam is homeless, since early October she has been living out of her car. She does not go to the shelter because she has a pet cat that she will not give up. Pam says the car is quite cozy between the down filled sleeping bags and a snuggly little kitty. So how does a well educated (university graduate) middle-aged woman end up living in her car. I'm sure this was never part of some master life plan Pam came up with in her youth. Pam is the second oldest of her siblings (as am I) she told me how she was always the caregiver in her family. She finished university after the younger kids were well established and her mom no longer need her help at home. Pam went to Korea and taught English for 7 years. When she returned to Canada, her dad's health was failing so she moved close to her parents and helped her mother to care for him until he passed several years ago. Then for a brief while Pam again had her own life...but due to economics Mother and daughter moved in together. Over time Pam's mother grew more dependent because of her own failing health. Once again Pam's life was defined by the needs of someone else. When mom passed away, Pam slipped into a depression...she lost her job and ultimately her apartment.
There is more going on with Pam then mere economics. Pam is at a cross-roads, and in this moment making no decision seems better then committing to a wrong decision. Pam and I will have coffee one day when I have a better knowledge of the available resources in this area. Hopefully she'll find something that rings true for her and she will start being Pam's caregiver. Everyone needs a little time for them self. That goes for you too... first and foremost be your own best friend.