Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the double-ass ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Storm Continues…

The November storm that has dumped enough snow to bury the dog and then some---a total of 24.6 inches---is still going strong. Many schools are still closed, my street is a mess with no cars in sight and already TV viewers are being advised to shovel their flat roofs so they don’t cave in. Usually, that comes much later in the season.   

I'm so cut off from the world I feel like Tom Hanks in the movie, Cast Away, only my ‘Wilson’ is trapped in the nature strip behind the house, covered with snow and probably as lonely as I am. Like Tom’s character in the movie, before the storm I caught myself talking to that ball and I even thought about drawing a face on him before I came to my sense. The powers of nature always push stray balls up my street and around my house until they get caught in the weeds or I pick them up and put them on the deck for Levi’s amusement. Over the years I’ve seen many beach and soccer balls circle my house 5 or 6 times before they get trapped in the back. It’s fascinating how the lay of the landscaping and the wind makes that happen. But I swear if a tornado is ever in the area my house will go up and Levi and I would be wandering around like Dorothy and Toto in the Wizard of Oz.

Old people seem to talk about their bird-feeders a lot so I will follow suit and share the fact that my feeders need a traffic light to keep the chickadees, finches, cardinals, titmouse, mourning doves, blue jays and woodpeckers from fighting over the prime positions. I’ve even had a huge Northern Harrier sitting on my deck rail---probably hunting for mice. What the heck is he still doing in town? He should be on his way to Central America. I’ve gone through an alarming quantity of seed this week. My feeders are just eight feet away from my door and very accessible from my deck and I suspect my neighbors aren’t able to get out to their feeders to resupply them which would explain why so many birds are dining at my house. The bummer part, though, is with my arm sling I’ve had to resort to using smaller feeders because I can’t lift my large feeders up to their hooks using just one arm. I’ve had to refill the little ones twice a day since the storm began.

I made a decision this morning to spend the afternoon reading The Hunger Games. I was probably the last person in the world to see the movie so I figured I might as well be the last person in the world to read the book. Amazon.com make decisions like that too easy to follow through. A quick download and it’s on your Kindle.  I’m not a fan of doomsday or dystopian themes in fiction where civilizations break down into factions of dominate, decadent or exploitative people who rule over the have-nots but on the other hand, I do like to understand pop culture and what makes people world-wide like to read popular stuff like The Hunger Games franchise. Snow days are good for reading if nothing else.

The snow is supposed to end during the coming night. Hopefully that will give the road crews a chance to catch up so I can get out tomorrow. If not, oh well. I won’t starve to death. Mostly what I need to do is replenish the protein mix for the diet I’ve been on. Speaking of which, I’ve lost enough weight so that I’ve had to buy a smaller pair of pants for when I leave the house and this morning I realized my pajamas are so big they are actually a trip hazard. I don’t need any more falls so they will be the first of my clothing to get purged from the closet. If I keep this up, it going to be fun in the spring when I can go shopping for a whole new wardrobe. Just think, my goal was just to get into the smallest of the three sizes already in my closet. ©

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Snow, Snow and More Snow!

I’m looking at over a foot of snow that fell yesterday and overnight and we have another seven inches of the cold, wet stuff coming during the day. The pair of teenaged sisters I thought I struck a deal with to shovel my snow this winter have not shown up, nor did they call. I gave them my business card but they couldn’t remember their own phone number so I can’t call them, not that I should have to call. I told them to come shovel whenever it snows. Kids! I’d say their whole generation is irresponsible but yesterday when I was at the grocery store preparing for a week of bad weather, a boy in his late teens who was in the checkout lane in front of me saw me unloading my cart with my arm in a sling and he said, “Here, let me help you with that.” I replied, “Oh, you don’t need to do that, I have lots of time but I do appreciate it.” And I did. When my cart was empty I thanked him and said, “Someone raised you right!” He beamed and said he has a great mother. Why can’t that kid and mother live next door? Why can’t all kids appreciate the effort their parents put into to raising them to be empathic, kind and well-rounded individuals? I wish I had a great-granddaughter. I would have tried to fix them up.

Needless to say, today brought with it the first cancellation of my winter season…a Thanksgiving luncheon at the senior hall. When the area schools are closed, so is the hall and its activities automatically get canceled. At least all that food won’t go to waste. Over a hundred street people will get an early turkey dinner. I feel sorry for the people who have to bring that food downtown, though. It’s nasty outside which is one of the reasons why I can’t decide if I should apply my Plan B to get rid of my snow or sit it out and see if the teens show up as promised. The problem with waiting is the deeper the snow gets, the less successful I’ll be at getting rid of it on my own. Better to make two and three passes throughout the day than to wait until the snow is so deep and heavy it can’t be moved without giving yourself a heart attack. And I’m kind of afraid if the girls see me outside with my little electric snow blower they won’t ever come down to shovel, they’ll think I no longer need their help. Decisions, decisions.

I won’t be surprised if the activities at the senior hall on Wednesday get canceled as well, the second in a series of genealogy classes I signed up for. Not a big loss for me but if I have to miss the Thursday lecture on weather and climate change, given by a well-known meteorologist, that will tickle my funny bone. Don't worry, I won’t go full blown cabin fever if I have to stay at home so many days in a row because by Friday when my movie and lunch club is on my day planner, the storm is supposed to be over. Hallelujah, and praise the gods of glorious sunshine and calm skies who are coming my way. I should build them an altar in my living room so they’ll stick around. Do you think they’d like essential oils, feathers, river washed stones and chanting? I could manage that. A bird committed suicide on my window yesterday and the dog brought him in to show it to me---he thinks he’s a cat---and I could still dig some feathers out of the trash where the bird's final resting place is inside an orange juice carton.

Last month I had to spend $1,200 on a dental vet bill for Levi and I’ve been watching for the points to show up on my credit card so I could spent them. I thought there would be more than a lousy $12.00 worth that I could use at amazon.com. I’ve had my eye on a pricy book of letters written by my ancestor, Mercy Warren Otis, and when I went online to check it out there was only one copy left. The $12.00 made a dent in the asking price but with only one copy left, how could I not pull the trigger and buy it? I can’t believe I’m going to read the actual words of a woman one historian has labeled ‘The Republican Mother’---me the flaming liberal, although I’m sure the word meant something different back in Revolutionary War times when she lived than it does today. The reviews were mixed---only two online---one glowing and probably written by a friend of the person who compiled the letters and another that said the writing style was too hard to read. Duh, isn’t all period literature hard to read? The struggle to understand what is underneath the flowery language is half the fun. The creepy part is the portrait on the cover of Mercy looks uncannily like my mother. They could have been sisters. Maybe Mom was a time-traveler and didn’t tell me? Anyway, so now you know what I’ll be doing on Thanksgiving day…curling up with a treat-myself book. That is if I can get my sidewalk cleared in time for the UPS person to deliver the book to my door. ©

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dreams, the Holidays and Photo Albums

Since my shoulder surgery two weeks ago I’m sleeping better. I’m only waking up once or twice during the nights instead of seven or eight times like before the procedure. That’s a good thing for my all-over health but I don’t remember my dreams as easily as I did when I wasn’t reaching a deep sleep in between waking up so many times. This morning, though, I woke up with a dream hanging on and its one I wish I couldn’t remember.

In the dream Don was breaking up with me. He was going off to have fun with his new friends---a less than angelica looking bunch of ragtags, I must add. I guess you could say he broke up with me when he died but I didn’t need to hear the words to start out my day or to feel his tender last kiss still lingering on my lips. I don’t get guy logic! Why kiss someone like that if you’re going to say goodbye in the next breathe---or was it my own logic since it was my dream? “Adios, aloha, ciao, arrivedece, goodbye Jean, it’s been nice knowing you.” Nice knowing me? Nice! Get out your dictionary, buddy, and find a better word. (Did you know that Stephen King says if you have to use a thesaurus to replace a word, you shouldn’t be using that replacement word in the first place? Easy for him to say. He has a bigger vocabulary than I do.)

“Kiss off, Don!” I replied in my dream, “I don’t need you to tell me what I already know. You’re going away and you’re not coming back.” I was as mad as a soapy, wet cat in a bathtub and I stayed that way for an hour after I woke up…almost two if I need to be honest with myself.

No matter how well we widows have dealt with the death of our spouses, no matter how much we have moved forward in our new lives the holidays still bring with them a certain level of melancholy and apprehension, don’t they. The fact that Don died early in January doesn’t help. That timing just extends a long season of being alone while the rest of the world seems to be celebrating, and memories of past holidays interrupt my journey forward. I have no plans for Thanksgiving, did I mention that? Although I did turn down two offers. I didn’t feel like pretending I fit in with the first family that invited me. They are a large, close-knit family and I don’t know many of them well enough to call them by name. With the second offer I got, it would be too hard with my arm in a sling to help with clean up and the would-be hostess is in no condition to be cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner which she would have done if I had accepted her kind invitation. She loves to cook, but she shouldn’t be on her feet that much. She’s ten years my senior and has been known to pass out when she overdoes.

Someone suggested I could get the Salvation Army to deliver a Thanksgiving meal to me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. 1) I give money to the Salvation Army to buy holiday meals for the poor. 2) I can very well afford to order a fully cooked holiday dinner from an upscale deli that you just warm up the next day. And 3), Thanksgiving---or any of the holidays---isn’t just about the food. It’s about the people you share it with. I’d say “bah humbug” here but I think that word is strictly reserved for December. I’d look it up to be sure but I feel the presence of Stephen King looking over my shoulder and he is one scary guy. Why do they print books of common phrases and dictionaries of synonyms and antonyms if we’re not supposed to use them? Answer me that, Stephen! Ohmygod, is this what senility feels like, you start talking to people who are dancing around in your head?

My niece and her husband came to town this week to take me out to dinner and to bring me some photos to scan for a book I’m working on. It’s a photo essay covering the life spans of my parents and I will give a copy to my brother, my nephew and my two nieces for Christmas. But mostly I wanted my all-time favorite photos of my folks all in one book that can travel with me to the assisted living place I hope I never have to move to, but I’m a realist so I’m covering my bases. I have eight boxes of photos, sixteen large photo albums and a huge box of slides and no one is going to let me keep them all if I’m forced to move one day. My Plan B is to spend the winter making 8” x 8“ topic essay books like the one I did for my brother’s birthday last year. After I finish the book of my parents, I’ll do one of Don and me, one of my nephew and nieces, one of the family cottage and all its reincarnations and one book of my favorite things. Then I will make it well known that if anyone tries to send me off to assisted-living without my six, compact photo essay books, I’ll disinherit them assuming I’ll be able to dial a phone and can remember who my lawyer is. Who says getting old isn’t a blood sport. You have to be strong to become as weak and helpless as a kitten if you age badly. In the meantime, I’m going to start eating spinach for breakfast. It worked for Popeye, why not me?  ©