Twitter article by Haydn Watters, CBC Radio roving reporter | December 2019
A few months ago, I met a trio of single senior ladies who couldn’t afford to live alone. So they decided to live together. Skip forward 6 months and they just moved into their house in Peterborough.
They all met on a Facebook group Pat started called Senior Ladies Living Together. She was living in a trailer 5 months a year and needed steady accommodation. Her hope was to find a few ladies in the same situation around Ontario. There’s now more than 1,600 in the group.
The search for a house took a while. Deb tells me they “saw a lot of scary properties beforehand.” They were able to get connected with an investor from Ottawa, Monica Siegenthaler, who bought a house and now rents it out to them.
It’s since been a month of boxes. There’s an empty 4th bedroom in the house that’s full of them (they are still looking for a 4th roommate). “It’s really tiring,” Pat told me. “When we all go to bed at night, all my muscles say ‘thank you thank you, you’re lying down again.” Chores and house duties are still being sorted but Pat’s the cook, while Deb puts out the trash and Faye will do the dusting.
“Finding Faye and Deb just gave me hope not only that the idea I had would work, but it could work for me and lots of other people,” said Pat.
It’s only been a few weeks but so far things are going smoothly. “We haven’t had any door slamming or bad words,” said Deb. “We’re sure to have our ups and downs. We’d be crazy to think we’re not going to. But I think things are going very, very well,” said Faye.
It all happened just in time for the holidays. “Loneliness isn’t something people want to admit to. It feels sometimes like a failure,” Pat told me. “If you’re old and lonely, that’s something you must have caused … in fact, there’s lots and lots of reasons for loneliness.”
She doesn’t feel lonely anymore. “Going from despair to joy is quite extraordinary.” Theirs is the 5th success story from the group. Pat wants more. She just started a not-for-profit corporation. She hopes to get a website and connect seniors as housemates around Canada.
Yes, there’s been comparisons to the Golden Girls, but they’ve decided they are more like Lucy and Ethel – plus one.