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 ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Friday, May 25, 2012

First Memorial Day

As a widow, don’t ever think you’re past the point of finding things to cry about regarding the passing of your spouse. I thought I was but today I got a call that brought unexpected tears. Just after Don died I had ordered a memorial brick for a ‘Plaza of Recognition’ in Don’s hometown using money that came in condolence cards. It’s the kind of thing that is sold as fund raisers and this one helps a sweet little park next to a dam. I had forgotten all about it until the call came to let me know the brick had been set in place just in time for Memorial Day. We have bricks like this in other locations around the state. There is something about the permanency of having your name carved in a brick that appealed to Don and I couldn’t help crying at the thought of how pleased Don would be with this last one. Now I have a mission in the coming weeks: find it! It's a big area with lots of bricks to check out. I’d better bring a lunch.

I went to the cemetery today and was surprised to see they still haven’t finished the detail work around the tombstone. The black, etched letters in the granite are filled with dirt and they haven’t reseeded where the ground was dug up. Every time it rains dirt is going to wash over the stone because they need to cut the sod and dirt back on one side. I was not happy. This close to Memorial Day I expected better. The next time I go to town I’m bringing my own tools to cut the sod and water to clean the stone. Not that I’m all that sentimental over a tombstone but Don would have cared about the unkempt state it was in. So that makes me care. He was big on Memorial Day traditions. Every year until his stroke we’d go to graves spread out in four cemeteries, in three counties.

Truthfully, I don’t know if I really get the whole concept of tending graves---why it seems to mean more to some people than to others. I don’t feel closer to Don when I’m at the cemetery like many recent widows report. He’s all around me when I’m at home among the things that have memories attached to their procurement. My brother is a grave tending like Don was. My dad always paid his respects at his father’s grave and spent untold amount of time trying to find the cemetery where his mother was laid to rest. (She died in a different state when he was a little boy.) I have a long history of tagging along with the grave tenders in the family. But it’s not something I’d instinctively want to do if not for the tradition.

However, when I’m ninety-five and can no longer drive I can see myself asking my nieces to drive me up the cemetery to tend Don’s grave, then have lunch at the near-by old mill turned restaurant and afterward wander down to the garden park to find Don’s brick. Let it be known, though, that the sneaky old woman I’ll become will be doing it to spend time with the living---not the dead---in a very pretty and peaceful place. Don did good picking out his final resting place. And maybe that’s what draws people into the yearly homage of grave tending. When you’re sitting in a sunny cemetery with the sound of a distance wind chime or the birds chirping to keep you company, you are reminded that life goes on and your memories never die. As long as you can remember you still have the love that came with the relationship you honor on Memorial Day. ©



P.S. In case you're wondering what that little red thing is on Don's stone, it's Snoopy. In the 42 years that I'd known Don he always had a Snoopy in his life. When he'd wear his Snoopy t-shirt or watch or he picked his Snoopy coffee cup out of the cupboard you knew he was in a very playful and happy mood that day.

3 comments:

  1. Jean:

    I love the tombstone & saying you picked on his tomstone is so lovely, I feel if I leave behind person who loves me so much I won't mind those trails.

    Asha

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    1. Thanks Asha. The saying on the stone---Happy trails to you until we meet again---was something Don and I both wanted. I only regret that I didn't order the stone a few years ago when he was still alive and wanted to do it. But if there is a here-after, he knows I followed through....

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  2. Hello Jean,

    Just wanted to stop by post memorial day and say hello and see how you are. As always, I was rewarded by your thoughtful perspectives.

    Joan and the Barkalots

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