“I grew up in Memphis. We settled in Pennsylvania. My son went to Auburn and married a girl who didn’t want to leave south Alabama. They started having grandkids and we went back and forth to be with them. Three months there and three months here. Then we bought a house down here. It was a good life. My husband died three years ago. We had been married for 51 years. That is a lifetime. I recently moved to a one bedroom apartment. It is the first place I have lived without my husband and it is the first time I have ever lived alone. I am a little bit of a different person. I have worked for Habitat for Humanity for about 25 years, usually three days a week. In 2015 I was named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ for Alabama. One year I drove 3,000 miles building houses for Habitat. My dad had a shop and my brothers did construction work. I worked with them and was good at it. I got involved in a women build project and we raised the money and built the house. It was empowering and that is why I stayed. I would guess I have worked on 20 houses.
I line dance here and have a group of friends with that. I grew up Southern Baptist and did not dance but it is fun. I also sing in the choir at church. I have trouble figuring out what to do when I have downtime.
I started hiking about 10 years ago with Road Scholar and have hiked at Glacier National Park, sections of the Appalachian Trail and in Arizona. I need to hike the Pacific Coast Trail before I get too old, but I am 78 now so I need to hurry up. I want to hike at Mount Rushmore, too. I am in a dry spell because it is hard to find people to do this with who are my age. I like the physical challenge of hiking and seeing parts of the US I have never seen. It is a good way to travel as a single woman.
Doing what I want to do is a new feeling. Sometimes I think I would like to meet somebody but I don’t have to be married again. Just a reliable companion to go to dinner and a movie. There is a friend I sometimes build with and we go to McDonald’s and get tea and talk when we are done. When you get my age anything will do.
My husband was 14 years older than I was. He had a Ph.D. in chemistry and I met him when I was teaching in Memphis. I was 23 and friends called me an ‘old maid school teacher’ and set us up. He was 37 but I didn’t know that. He didn’t look that old. We had been dating for a while and starting to get serious when he asked me if I knew how old he was. By then it was too late. I was a Baptist girl and an answer to his mother’s prayer.
God has given me good health and a fairly good mind. I have been a Christian all my life. This life is what God wants me to go through. He has given me the ability to do whatever needs to be done. Why not help people?”