Continued from page 24
At times in the past few years Carol
had thought it would be nice to do something for herself. Go back to school, take a
job, anything to feel a little stimulated
mentally. The yearly moves and the children's need for stability had precluded
this in the past. "But now," she thought,
"Now, if this is truly that last move, I'll
be able to do some of the things I've
always wanted to do."
Two nights before Tom and Carol
were to leave on their trip, the door bell
rang at suppertime. The postman had a
special delivery letter in his hand". Carol
took the letter, noticed that the^postmark
said "Dallas" and absently wondered who,
locally, could be writing her. She knew no
one in Dallas yet. They'd only been there
The neatly typed message was short.
It simply said, "Carol, I'm sorry but I've
got to get away for awhile. Please understand how confused I am. Tom." The
initials TH/js were under the signature.
Her cheeks flamed with humiliation when
she realized that someone besides Tom had
seen and typed this message.
Less than a month later, a stricken
and dazed Carol stood before the bench
in a crowded courtroom. Without money
she had to knock on many doors to retain
an attorney to represent and defend her in
a divorce action.
This was the preliminary hearing. She
could not understand what was happening
to her. She felt as though she were standing
apart watching a play. Tom's attorney was
telling the judge that his client was petitioning for divorce because the marriage
had become "insupportable," and that his
client wanted custody of his children.
Carol kept shaking her head, trying to clear
her mind. The legalese everyone spoke was
foreign to her, and these men—her attorney, Tom, his attorney and the judge-were
all foreigners, all strangers to her, too.
Several months later, Carol was
divorced. She was still in a state of shock.
She couldn't eat, she couldn't sleep, she
couldn't think, and sh(> we*rt through her
days in a trance-like silence. Her attorney
advised her to adjust to the idea of being
divorced and told her repeatedly, "There
is no alimony available to women in Texas.
It's prohibited by our state constitution."
Carol learned that child support awards are
minimal and, if unpaid, are not enforce-
able-at least without money.
Tom had taken his earning capacity
and his career potential with him when he
left. She learned that she had. no credit
worthiness, that she had no marketable job
skills, and that she was considered unemployable because she had had no recent
paid work experience. She was considered
unstable because she was in the throes of a
divorce and was discriminated against because of age and sex.
Carol has no unemployment insurance, nor hospitalization, nor pension
benefits available to her. Because she* and
Tom were married just under 20 years she
is not entitled to his Social Security
pension (at 62 or 65) upon his death or
The three children over 14 in her
family have opted to live with their father.
The two younger children are hurt, grief-
stricken, angry and confused, and they are
taking out their frustration on Carol.
Whenever she tries to discipline them they
threaten to go live with their father, too.
Often Carol secretly feels that the only
thing she can do is to let them live with
Tom and his new wife. Yet without the
two younger children, she feels she would
have nothing left.
Carol is alone and terribly frightened.
She has no one to turn to and nowhere to
go. After 18 moves in 19 years, where,
after all, is home?
Carol is a displaced homemaker.
The Radio Paging System
used by the Daily Breakthrough
Conference News Staff
has been provided by
a woman owned business
• CALL FORWARDING
• RADIO PAGING
• LIVE ANSWERING SERVICE
petty is 38 years old, lives in Denver,
has a son in his first year of medical school
and a husband bedridden with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He had been a husky
man, a machinist and an outdoorsman. As
she shifts his wasting body in the hospital
bed she has installed in the guest bedroom,
she carries on a cheerful chatter with him.
Underneath, however, she is trying to force
back her mounting fear. The pile of bills
on the kitchen table grows larger daily, the
demands for payment increasingly urgent.
Her monthly income of slightly more
than $600 in disability benefits is less than
half of what she must have to keep him
alive, their son in college, and the house
note current. She must earn a supplemental
income, but how can she leave him alone
all day? Even an LVN would cost nearly
$40 a day, far more than she could earn.
Their son had been home this weekend and she had taken him into the living
room where his father could not hear
them and explained their situation to
"Do you want me to quit school and
come home, Mom?"
"You may have to next semester,"
she said. "I think we can hold out for right
now. If your father knew you had to come
home and go to work because of his illness,
it would break his heart. I think that in
time you may have to, but I'm going to
see what I can work out, at least for one
She had gone over the figures with
him, hating to burden him with her fear,
yet knowing that it would be something
they would both have to face sooner or
Finally David said, "Do you think
you can sell the camper?"
When Betty and David had asked Hal
what he wanted for his 40th birthday, he
had admitted to really wanting only one
thing. From a back corner of his wallet
he had taken the folded and refolded
photo of a camping trailer.
Two years ago the three ot tnem
had spent several weekends looking for just
the right one.
After talking to David, she contacted
an old friend in the used car business.
"Don't come and get it until Hal's asleep,"
she told their friend. "I don't want him to
hear it go." And he had waited andl taken
it away quietly. Betty banked the $2,000
left after his commission. She borrowed
on her life insurance policy.
She went to Denver University and
asked for a career evaluation. She was very
honest with them. "I have no skills beyond
being a good housekeeper; I can't even
Her evaluation showed that she
would make a good nurse, but both she
and the counselor knew that it was too late
for her to start; she was too old. She could,
however, become an LVN in two years.
The bank agreed that Betty could
arrange a second mortgage, and David received a limited scholarship. It will take
him another year to complete his degree
because he must work at the clinic part-
time. Betty pays a woman to come in and
take care of Hal. He no longer questions
her as he once did. He is ashamed that she
has to go to work. When Betty completes
her training she will come home and take
over Hal's nursing needs. With the money
from the second mortgage she will be able
to meet the minimal needs and give him a
modest funeral-if, indeed, he lives that
long. And after that, she will work the rest
of her life.
Betty is a displaced homemaker.
Conclusion of story on following page
ROBERTA K. TILUNGHAST, PRESIDENT
Houston • Galveston • San Antonio • Corpus Christi
An equal opportunity employer.
PAGE 26 NOVEMBER 20, 1977 DAILY BREAKTHROUGH