Women For Living In Community: Mother’s Day


“To my mom, Betty Jane Martin, who was a woman before her time. She was my hero and she continues inspiring me to find new ways to help others to age with grace and dignity.”

This is from the dedication page in my new book, Your Quest for Home. I wrote my book to honor my mother, Betty Jane Martin, and her memory and legacy.

She was married to Bob, my father, for 63 years. She was a teacher and a “do it all” working wife and mother long before it was in vogue. She worked and took care of my sister and me. She took care of my father, a house, and even a dog that she was allergic to. She did all this while being gracious and hospitable. She was the mother all my friends wanted to be around, even when we were all moody teenagers.

In some ways I was a latch key kid in a generation before latch key kids were common. My mom worked and I understood that, but it didn’t affect me negatively in any way. I grew up on a college campus and around neighbors who watched out for me. My childhood was very community oriented. It takes a village, they say.

This is my origin story. This was the time of my life where I first tasted “community.” I understood what it meant to be part of a neighborhood on a deep and cellular level. I had a town center and a community who cared. This was the town of Lake Forest IL with its historic market square, the country’s first shopping center.

What you may not know is that I also grew up in a shared house. 3 different families or people lived in our house, which was owned by the university, in the time I grew up there. The oldest resident lived on the top floor with no elevator.

Everything I do now I do for my mom. She didn’t want to spend time in assisted living but life continued to happen. She was diagnosed with COPD while still living in a tri-level home. Changes needed to be made and our culture didn’t have a dialogue about alternatives. I spent time with her in nursing homes and assisted living facilities and watched the way the older women began to disconnect from themselves and the people around them.

I knew for certain in those moments that would never be me. At least I would do everything in my power to change this dynamic and improve my life and the lives of others as we age.

This is why I founded Women for Living in Community. This is why I facilitate workshops and speak to groups on alternatives. This is why I wrote my book, Your Quest for Home. I wanted to give all of us the tools to make our own decisions and plans for aging around people we care about and who care about us.

Because of my mom, I want to change the conversation. Will you be a part of it?

Women For Living in Community