For many senior citizens, the “Golden Years” are meant to be lived comfortably. One retires, takes things easy, maybe catches up with kids and grandkids, or takes time to travel. But many older people reaching retirement age are finding that long awaited respite just isn’t within reach…at least not yet. In the final profile of our “working poor” series, ideastream’s Brian Bull shares the story of Marilyn Lombardo…an unemployed West Side resident who has little money in her account but plenty of responsibility.
“I am Marilyn Ann Lombardo, I’m 62 years of age. I am a licensed optician in the state of Ohio.
“The last time I worked was about two weeks ago, for a full day.
“I sold five pairs of glasses, did a couple of insurance claims, and I’m getting by now by….um, the luck of the draw. I am getting a little bit of income from disability, classified as `disability employment', which means that I am able to make some money on my own.
“The day that I found that out, I was at wit’s end. I had $24.60 left. And I had gone through everything by then, frugally living.
“I went to the Social Security office and immediately started crying. And the gentleman that greeted me looked up my record, and said “Calm down, there’s no reason for you to be penniless.” I didn't know where I was going to get my medication from. Because without my medication, it’s tough to make it through each day. I have severe arthritis, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia.
“My 401k that I had when I lost my job in 2009. I rolled it over, and then it lost about $4,000. And from the $36,000 that I thought it was going to be, I only ended up with $6,000 because the doctor that I was employed by then, decided to pool all our money in with their money. So when it crashed, it took a real big hit. So of course, rather than leaving there in ’09 with $36,000, it was only $6,000.
“I rob from Peter to pay Paul. Because I have such good credit and have kept up with living within my means. I’ve three credit cards that have 0% APR, for about a year and a half. And I pay them off in full each month. So one at the beginning of the month gets the bills on it, gets paid by the one at the end of the month, then next month you start all over again. I have nothing left at the end of my income or the end of any checks that come in.
“My babysitting job is definitely a blessing! My great nephew Charlie keeps me going. Being how he’s 17 months old now, it’s a very physical job.
INTERACTION: (Where’s your shoes, Charlie? (DRAWER SHUTS, BABY GURGLES) Where are your Lighted up shoes?” “Ah…kay!”)
“My niece, she compensates me by paying a bill here and there, meals, food….she’ll send home dinner.
“I share my home with my 94-year-old mother, who moved in unexpectedly about a year ago. Every day is different. I make the coffee, I get some breakfast.
“Then I help mom. I have to give her an injection every morning for her osteoporosis. She takes her medication before breakfast, another group of pills after breakfast, and then we sit and wait for the senior bus that picks her up to take her to the senior center for 4 to 5 hours.
OUTSIDE HOUSE: "Goodbye, mother." "Bye, dear…see you later.”
“Then I wave goodbye to her and then play ‘beat-the-clock’ to get done what I can get done.
“My instilled integrity inside keeps me going, because I know what I can do. I can’t stand somebody telling me `You can’t do this, you shouldn’t do that.’ What’s the alternative? I’m not going to lie down and die. I’m not gonna let someone trample all over me.
“I still believe in Marilyn.”