Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Tenuous independence

Citizen Staff Writer



She survived the Great Depression, the deaths of two husbands and breast cancer.

Goldie Breeding, 86, is one self-sufficient woman.

But the economy has Breeding fearing for her independence. While she is able to manage her expenses by clipping coupons and hunting for bargains, Breeding worries that a new prescription for her spinal arthritis or any other expense might prohibit her from living on her own.

“Food is my big concern,” says Breeding, who lives on Social Security and a small pension. “It’s gotten so expensive. And if I have to go on medication, I don’t know what I would do. I’d probably have to sell and move in with someone.”

Breeding is lucky. She knows any of her six children would be happy for her to move in.

But she doesn’t want to leave the mobile home where she has lived since she retired in 1999 at age 75.

“I eat what I want to, I watch what I want to,” says the retired home health care nurse. “I want to remain independent as long as possible. My family needs privacy, and so do I.”

She worries about how the economy is hurting her older friends who have no one to turn to.

In recent years, Breeding, a Tucson resident since 1947, has received help with unexpected expenses from Pima Council on Aging.

After a knee replacement in 2003, the agency installed a ramp, so she would not have to walk the eight steps up to her mobile home.

PCOA built a new roof four years ago after a storm ripped off a portion. “My insurance wouldn’t cover the roof, and it’s so expensive to fix these old mobile homes,” she said.

The agency helped her get a bracelet that she can use to alert authorities if she falls and needs assistance. The spinal arthritis causes Breeding to easily lose her balance.

Each time, her family has made a donation to the agency, she said.

Breeding relies on Van Tran or her children for rides to the doctor, church or shopping. She shops at four grocery stores, looking for the best value.

Breeding, who was born in 1922, was one of nine children, seven who survived past childhood.

Her father developed typhoid fever in Missouri, and the family moved to Phoenix in 1926 when Goldie was 4. She has vivid memories of the Depression.

“We were fortunate to live on a dairy farm, so we had milk and vegetables,” she said.

She recalls a time when her family had no butter, having sold all the cream from the farm.

“Daddy was selling everything he could. Mama said we had to go downtown and sign up to get margarine. I didn’t know what that was.”

Her parents always managed.

“We were young and we didn’t realize how tough times were,” Breeding said. “Mama always had a pot of stew. She made good bread and we always had a pot of beans.”

Goldie married in 1939 at age 17. She and husband James had two children. But James died, leaving her a widow at age 22.

She remarried, and she and husband Herschell had four children. At age 50, Goldie was again widowed when Herschell died from a heart attack in 1971.

It was then she went to work for the first time, and loved the years she spent caring for others.

Breeding has six children, 14 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. “I’m so rich,” she said.

She predicts the economy will get worse before it gets better.

“I call it a depression,” she said. “I lived through one and that’s what it feels like to me.”

She turns to her faith in hard times, and hopes her prayers will be answered.

“I’m praying that this new president can turn things around, but he has a lot on his shoulders,” she said.

“Every night I pray for the United States to be back to where it was when I was raising children. I want Tucson to be back to the way it was.”


Pima Council on Aging provides services to seniors and their caregivers. It is the designated Area Agency on Aging and acts as a conduit, coordinating services for older adults through other local agencies.

Among the services provided are meal delivery and congregate meals; personal budgeting assistance; employment services; transportation; home repair and housekeeping; and personal care services.

For more information, call 790-7262 or go to pcoa.org.

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