Young, Gay and Single Among the Nuns and Widows of New Haven
By David Tuchman
This article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the editorial board of The Modern Orthodox Reporter.
During my years at Yale I was able to spend a few Saturday evenings in the homes of several single elderly women.
These women had been widowed for many years and had been forced by their children to live with them; many had been forced by their children to sell furniture or other possessions to sustain their children’s lifestyles.
I don’t know that these women were all single, but it seems they were all young. Some were young widows who had managed to keep their dignity through a long, difficult past. None of them were very happy. I only saw three or four at a time at a time, always on the cusp of widowhood and then at the cusp of a new life.
We lived in the basement of a dormitory that offered no real privacy and we had to go up and down stairs to see each other. There I often spoke with a single woman named Jane whose husband had been a lawyer. I had never met the women who were with her when I visited, though I had read her brief biographies of them. She was the first woman I ever really met who was a single woman.
Jane was about 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighed about 110 pounds and looked tired. She had dyed auburn hair that was matted and hung over her face to one side and she had a deep cleft in her chin that she kept hidden as much as possible. Her face was pale and there were deep circles under her eyes. Her eyes were large and sad, and she did not smile when she talked.
I had never been to her home but I knew it was in the same building as her husband’s law office. I asked Jane why she was lonely and she told me that all her friends had married and they were living with their new husbands.
I asked her what she loved, hoping she could answer that she loved her husband, but she told me with tears in her eyes that she loved reading. She had been a voracious reader her entire life and had loved to read from the time she was a child.
She told me that she loved her house and her garden and she told me that she had a very good life