I’LL FLY AWAY … By Marilyn Armstrong

When I was a lot younger — in my teens — America didn’t look all that wonderful to me. It was before abortion became legal. Vietnam was in high gear and my first husband and I were close to bankrupt from having my spine repaired.

When I went into the hospital, we had $20,000 in the bank which in the U.S. in 1965, was enough to buy a house and maybe a car, too. In fact, our first house cost $19,200 and our car cost under $1000.

The first house

When I staggered out of the hospital (I was there for five months), we had $10 in the bank and owed the hospital a couple of thousand dollars more. I asked my husband if we didn’t pay them back, would they find me and break my back again?

Our first house in Boston

We cashed in everything we had, sold anything that had any value. Mind you, we had insurance. Just not enough insurance. Two years later, Owen was born with two club feet. It cost us about $500 every week to treat his feet. By the time he was walking almost normally, we were thousands of dollars in debt and never recovered.

There we were, deep in the Vietnam war. We had a lot of friends over there, too. We were lucky. Most of our friends came home.

We were young. Passionate. Sure we could fix it, whatever “it” was. We also wondered if we could move to Australia, Canada or somewhere we could earn a living, but in the end, we stayed in the U.S. It was home. We never imagined it would be as bad as it is now, but it wasn’t all that great back then, either.

When Jeff and I split up late in 1979, I moved to Israel with Owen and it became my “other: home. I became a citizen but in the end, I came back to the U.S. Because I knew where “home” was and it wasn’t there.

House in summer

I have been back since the end of the 1980s. Things got better, worse, then better, worse, better — and now, simply awful. Until Netanyahu was re-elected in Israel yesterday, I had this underlying belief that at least I had another home to which I could flee — if fleeing was what we had to do.

It turns out that any place we might go to has its own issues, most of which are as bad (and surprisingly similar) as ours. They may lack our disgusting, lying president, but they are battling over immigration, health care, taxes, the climate. Their politicians are also liars. More polite than ours. Not less sleazy but they have better manners.

Meanwhile, climate change will affect the entire world. All the pointless arguments in the world are not going to change that reality.

Is there anywhere for us to go? Is there a safe place with sane leaders who would want us? I think not.

First of all, we are old and not rich. Most countries, if they are looking for immigrants, are looking for young, well-educated people who will contribute to their economy or older people who have money. Israel would take us because I’m a citizen, but their problems are serious; I don’t see them improving soon.

The home in Baka, Jerusalem

Effectively, there is nowhere for us to go.

I think in years to come there will be only two kinds of people in this world: those who hate immigrants and immigrants.

Everyone else will be hiding in a cave.

13 thoughts on “I’LL FLY AWAY … By Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Your story is precisely why we started our health care system Marilyn. Tommy Douglas, a socialist was behind it. His argument was that health care should be available to everyone and no one should be personally bankrupted because they run into some bad health issues. I’m not a socialist but when it comes to health care I consider it a basic human right. To deny access because you don’t have the money is a crime. But our system was abused by many. For instance, you would have women, who would pay a small fortune to go to a foreign country for breast augmentation then return to Canada to have their botched job repaired for free.


    • So they need to fix the system. Israel has a brilliant medical system. There’s a completely free one that anybody can use, including tourists. After that, you can — for varying amounts of money — buy a “better” version where you don’t need to deal with clinics and can make an appointment with doctors. You don’t get BETTER care, but you do get more convenient care,

      It combines insurance-based services with a free one. Of course, since being a doctor is a very Jewish thing, Israel actually has MORE doctors per capita than any other country and most of them — other than the ones who came from Russia – badly trained and more like nurses with scalpels – the medical care is exceptional and creative. I have always thought that the U.S. should do something like that.

      It gives everyone what they want. The insurers won’t make as much money as they do now, but they’ll do okay. Doctors won’t be paid in millions either. Of course, college is free for citizens in Israel so doctors don’t have humongous college debts. They get paid just like everyone else. Which is much too little.

      Israel also needs a LOT more dentists.

      Liked by 1 person

        • It really is a good system. If you have the money — and the insurance options are not wildly expensive — you can get more convenient service without dealing with clinics. If not, you’ll get whatever you need, but you’ll do more waiting in line. And the system works very well.

          Liked by 1 person

          • We have a lot of walk-in clinics. Then there are the community health doctors that are considered your family doctor. You wait a lot longer for these family doctor ones. The walk in, depending on how many other people are in the waiting room, can be quite speedy. Both are covered by our healthcare system.


  2. I think that about sizes it up Marilyn. When people complain to me about asylum seekers and refugees I wonder, and sometimes ask them “What would you do, if it were you?” The way we treat our asylum seekers I hope that Australians never need to flee. Who would want us?
    I could go to England as I am a citizen but I wouldn’t want to. Nice place to visit but no way would I want to live there. My pick of a saner, more civilised country that I could maybe afford would be New Zealand but it has the alarming habit of shaking itself to pieces on a regular basis so that’s not a great idea either. I’d also consider somewhere in Scandinavia but as you say if you are old you have to be rich.


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