Saturday, August 27, 2005

Other end of the spectrum from the extended family

On the same day that Bill Maher commented on Real Time that the population of single people (totally single, no kids even) has bypassed the number of married people and the number of single people with kids in the U.S., the New York Times ran this story on the front page that morning:

Alone in Illness, Seeking Steady Arm to Lean On by Jane Gross

Every time Grace McCabe is handed a form in a doctor's office asking for an emergency contact, the blank space makes her shiver.

It is such a simple question for anyone with a spouse, partner or children. But Ms. McCabe, 75, has always lived alone. Who would stand by her in a crisis? Who would be there for her in the worst of times?

These were once hypothetical questions. But now Ms. McCabe's slowly fading eyesight is almost gone. She has always had lots of friends but had never asked one to take responsibility for her, to answer the middle-of-the-night telephone call from the emergency room, say, or to pay her bills because she cannot write checks herself.

Of all her friends, she has fixed on one with a good heart, a steady hand under pressure and a talent for problem solving. So time and again, she writes "Charlotte Frank" in the blank space and lightens the moment by calling to say, "Charlotte, you're on another list."

The article goes on to talk about how people - singletons - cope in old age, and sometimes not-so-old age, when illness strikes. The examples of friendships are inspiring, but at the same time, the story is chilling. Is there ever a worse time to be by yourself than when you're sick and have to be hospitalized?


Blogger Sakshi said...

You Australia they are providing extra tax benifits for couples who have children and further more benefits if they have a 2nd child.

And even more tax and other financial benefits if you are a married couple with kids.

2:56 AM  

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