My mother has been married several times and, after being widowed, moved five times in the past fifteen years, twice following a boyfriend and two more times recovering from that. She’s lost a lot of money on all that moving around.
It would be nice if I could find a job here because I’d be three hours away from her, which is just about perfect. I’m within range to help out if needed, but I’ve got my own life. Since she is now approaching eighty, this was one of the reasons I moved back.
When I talk about having to go back to California, she insists she’ll go with me and we can live together. I am not keen on this idea. Financially it makes sense, but it would certainly strain my mental health. It also irks me that she spent her life married but expects me to be happy to spend my remaining vital decades living with my mother.
She’s never been happy living alone; I suppose this is why:
Widows and divorcees are more likely to need other people to rely on than women who have never been married. Pauline Bart, a sociologist who has studied depression in middle-aged women, believes that marrying young often precludes success in living alone. “Women who have never married generally value privacy and independence above intimacy and companionship,” she said. It is hardly surprising that a woman who has spent twenty years fixing family dinners, talking about the bills with her husband, hanging up his shirts, and living a noisy, full life will sorely miss it even if it was unhappy.
— Patricia O’Brien, The Woman Alone, p. 159