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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wife and Caregiver to Widowhood Transformation

Back in 2008 one of my attempts at article writing got published in a website’s humor section. They’ve since been bought out by Yahoo Contributors and somewhere along the line my article got moved to the beauty section. I can't imagine what people think when they start reading it, believing what I wrote was meant to be serious make-up advice for older women. Beauty treatments that involve cloths pins? No Way!

Little did I know back then that I’d be in hot pursuit of real beauty advice now that I’m no longer a caregiver and have the time to treat my face, nails, hair and wardrobe like the serious fixer-uppers that they are. But aren’t I worth it now that I have the time I used to spend helping my disabled husband, filling pills bottles and being a taxi service to an endless list of specialists? “Hell, yes!” the left side of my brain says while the other side laughs and claims it’s a lost cause.

My second venture into the world of spoiling myself consisted of an express pedicure and manicure. (The first was a deluxe pedicure and foot spa treatment.) The manicure didn’t even make it home before it was a mess and I had to remove all the polish. I won’t be doing that again, but I did manage to give myself a French manicure for the first time since the 1960s and I got two complements on my nails from complete strangers. So I’m thinking this old lady did good on nail pampering but, darn it all, the stupid things grew out. Who knew you’d have to get manicures all over again?

My third venture into the realm of self improvement involved getting low lights put in my hair. My hair stylist---I guess they don’t like the label ‘beauticians’ anymore---has repeated the low lights a few times, now, and I’m still not sure if I like them. No one has mentioned the new look so I’m thinking the color is either too fake to bring it up or it’s so completely natural looking that no one can tell I did anything. Either way, I keep scaring myself when I walk past mirrors. Who is that person?

“Who is that person?” Exterior changes not withstanding, I suppose that’s the question all widows are trying to sort through. Who are we without our other half? The titles of wife, caregiver and best friend (to Don) no longer apply. What is my title now? Don’t we all need titles to define how we spend our time and energy? Widow? Elderly Woman? Noted and discarded. Those are states of being, not of doing. Seeker of Truth and Beauty---that has a nice ring but how would that look on my calling card? Pompous, that’s how. That’s something that belongs on the Dali Lama XIV’s business card. He has the credentials to back up a byline like that, not me. But he probably has something selfless like: “God loves Tibet” or something low key like: “Bringing balance into a hectic world.”

I wish I could find the balance in my world. Instead, I have a kind of restless anticipation not unlike getting ready for a blind date set up by someone you don’t entirely trust. I am falling into a routine, though, but that’s not balance. Not the kind of balance that leaves you falling into bed each night as happy as a cat in an Amish milking barn. If a social opportunity comes along, I go whether I really want to or not. I talk to the dog every day and I welcome Robocalls just so I can hear a human voice. I feed my woodpeckers and finches and try to discourage the chipmunks from sitting two feet from the window where the dog takes up sentry duty. And I’ve taken up knitting again. I am progressing well compared to other widows I see at the widow’s support website. Still, I want more out of life than routine and busy work. The real me that got lost in my caregiver years, is she still out there waiting for me to find her? The Dala Lama once said: “When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways--either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” I’m challenged and I am working on that inner strength…and on finding the right coffee blend in k-cups for my Keurig.  Did I mention that widowhood makes you buy new things? ©


 My humor article....   Money Saving Tips for Old Ladies

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