Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It Was A Wonderful Life

I tried watching the movie It Was A Wonderful Life this evening, but I could only make it through about 25 minutes. It's so depressing. The documentary (1993) is about women who are homeless and living in LA. Half the women have children; nearly all the women have a higher education. I don't think it's so much the fact that they are homeless that's depressing me, but rather the circumstances that made them that way. One woman got seriously ill and her health insurance wouldn't cover her bills. All her savings went into paying for the hospital stay. One woman with three children lost her job and then her home because she couldn't pay the mortgage. One elderly woman fell in a grocery store, breaking her hip. She lost her job as a teacher and now lives in the shell of an old car with her three dogs. One woman lost a paternity suit against the father of her child. He had money for big name lawyers and she didn't. All her savings went into trying to get the state to require that this man pay child support. She lost and is living with her son in a van.

And it goes on and on.

And if those circumstances weren't bad enough, add on the fact that half of these women were married. When she got seriously ill/lost her job/etc, her husband up and left her (and the kids). I think that's the part of all these stories that really bothers me the most. How can you just leave someone you've been married to for 10+ years like that? How can you leave someone in such a vulnerable state? Don't these men have a conscience or a soul at all? One woman was left homeless with her five children (and one on the way) after her upper-middle class husband decided to just take off one day. He never paid one dime in child support. And to make things worse, while married to her, he demanded that she stay at home and raise the kids. She never worked during the marriage so she wasn't earning an income. Even though she wasn't bringing in an income, she said that she felt as if they were partners; he worked outside the home while she worked within. But he didn't feel the same. When he left, he took all the money with him. She was left with six children and less than nothing.

Makes me realize that I need to sock away a lot of money in case that ever happens to me. Statistically speaking, it probably will. I know that's not a very productive way of thinking, but hey, it's a fact. And I need to be prepared.

I wonder how many women in Minneapolis are one of the "invisible homeless"? These are women that don't sleep on the street or panhandle for money. You wouldn't even know they were homeless if you saw them. It's such a sad existence, and it's almost unbelievable how strong these women really are. I don't know if any of the women in the film got public or federal assistance to help them out. I just couldn't watch any more. It made me both sad and angry at the same time.

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