Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Long Ladder Story

Milwaukee is a pretty segregated place. I am not certain, but I think that is one reason why they passed an ordinance a few decades ago that all city employees have to live within city limits. Teachers, police, postal workers all have to live in the city. I’m sure the thinking was that city jobs would provide decent pay and steady employment and people in those jobs were exactly the kind of people the city didn’t want fleeing to the suburbs. Breweries and manufacturing jobs were being moved to cheaper places and I’m sure white flight was a concern when they passed that law too.

My parents are both public school teachers and have lived in a neighborhood that has steadily lost property value for the last 15 years. Corner liquor stores and fast food chains have sprung up, crime has risen, and foreclosures are incredibly high, especially in the last few years. I don’t have any good ideas about preventing people from moving out of the city. I have no idea how a city would go about slowing gentrification either. I do know that forcing employees to stay within the city limits probably does more harm than good though. My parents watched a lot of their colleagues take jobs with suburban school districts over the years just so they could move out of the city. Not only did Milwaukee lose residents, but they lost good teachers because of their stupid policy.

Anyway, my dad retired in 2008 but my mom is planning on working until next year. After years of looking, they finally bought their dream retirement home in the suburbs last year but kept their house in the city as their permanent residence until my mom is officially retired. They have been having a lot of fun fixing up the retirement home on the weekends so that it will be perfect by the time they can officially move in.

I’m turning this into a really long story and it really has nothing to do with my point. Last weekend, my dad was painting around a skylight in the new place and fell off the ladder. He was alone and broke his pelvis and shoulder. They initially thought there was a neck or spinal injury too, but I guess he just had some really bad bruises. He couldn’t get up and had to lay there for hours before my younger sister finally found him. He just turned 61 in April. He isn’t old enough to fall off a ladder. He is going to be fine, but I feel helpless being in Alaska while he has to go through a really long and painful rehabilitation. I don’t want to think about my parents getting old. It’s not supposed to happen for at least twenty more years.


moondog said...

"corner liquor stores and fast food chains" sounds a lot like some parts of riverwest, or brewer's hill. i tried being a teacher in milwaukee but i would have gladly lived in the city to do so. of course, i'm not almost retirement age (not even close thankfully) so i definitely have a different perspective on the matter.

radioactive girl said...

I'm so sorry! I understand how helpless you must feel. My mom had some major health issues a few years ago and I HATED being so far away.

Anonymous said...

Falling off a ladder has nothing to do with being old. I fall of things all the time. The hood of a car, for instance. I also walk into things all the time, like poles. Sometimes I fall while walking down the street and checking out cute guys. These things happen. Once your dad can no longer discuss fractals and be the life of some AWESOME mathematical party...well, THEN he is getting old.