Or, “How To Make Up Increasing State Deficits by Cutting Programs for Poor People Who Didn’t Cause the Deficits in the First Place.”

If you had told me twenty years ago that I would spend the latter years of my life severely “financially challenged,” as they say, I wouldn’t have wanted to believe it. “Oh, I’ll never be rich,” I would have said, “but I’ll make it fine. I’m clever, I’ll be all right.” I am clever, and in strange ways I’m more fine than ever, but for me “making it” has come to mean SSI and Medical and In-Home Supportive Services and weekly therapy paid for by the State of California through Medical, therapy that’s authorized in six-month increments.

And now it’s likely that my In-Home Supportive Services will be cut because they’re “only” for domestic tasks and I’m not needy enough. Which would mean no more Anita, who has increasingly become “my beloved Anita,” to clean, make the bed, cook, wash clothes, do all the necessary but seemingly insignificant chores of daily living that I either can’t do at all or that would sap my energy if I had to do them on a regular basis. No more warm, familiar presence every morning to puncture the debilitating pall of isolation that drapes too many of my days.

And Don, whom I see once a week, whom I have finally begun to trust is there for me, will be there for me. We’ve developed a relationship that gives me structure, that helps me redress lingering deficits from the past, that helps me keep going when otherwise it might all just be too much. What would I do, what will I do, if I can’t see him any more? I’ve heard that there are going to be deep cuts in Medical-funded mental health programs.

Now, mind you, these budget cuts have not been enacted yet. The muckety-mucks in Sacramento, who haven’t to my knowledge either been asked or volunteered to reduce their perks or their pay, still have some motions to go through. And it will take some time at least to dismantle established programs. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t a few lawsuits along the way, though I doubt they’ll accomplish anything. Anita, bless her heart, has said she won’t leave me bereft, will always find a way to give me some help. Don and I talk tomorrow. Maybe we can work something out.

I’ve been fond of saying, “Worry is interest paid on a loan you haven’t even taken out yet.” And I’m still worried. I’m a good enough Buddhist to that change is inherent in how things are, I remember my father declaiming, “This, too, shall pass,” and I can quote St. Paul to the effect that “nothing in creation can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” And I’m still scared.

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Note: This photo can be found on my Flickr.com photostream.

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