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! Jean

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"I Will Always Love You" and Celebration Cakes

The dog’s fifth birthday is a few days after the first anniversary of Don’s death but I’m thinking about celebrating it early so I’ll have something positive to do on the 18th instead of remembering Don’s last day on earth. Don was big into celebrating doggie birthdays. When we first started dating he had neighbors with six kids between them and both couples became good friends of ours, still are to this day. Anyway, those little kids were the guests at a couple of birthday parties that Don threw for the poodle I had at the time. He’d buy ice cream cakes from Basken-Robbins, balloons and gifts for Sarah to open and he’d enlist the parents to take pictures of their wide-eyed kids and the guest of honor. The kids went home wanting to know why their dogs never got parties. It was quite the talk at their elementary school.

There have been other celebrations that went to the dogs since those days but Levi has never had a birthday party. We made sure his birthdays included a trip to the pet store, though. Then we’d go to Starbucks where the people at the drive-up window always ask if our dog would like some whipped cream in a cup. Is Big Bird yellow? It didn’t take many trips to Starbucks for Levi to figure out that a treat from their window is a cut above the dog biscuits they give out at the bank.

How do other widows mark the first anniversary of their husband’s passing? Many  women go to the cemetery, I’m sure, but its January which in my state means the cemetery is closed for the winter---same with the road leading down to the beach where part of Don’s ashes reside. The nature trail is open but I don’t walk in the winter on snow-covered trails. It’s against the old people’s oath I took about not doing things that could potentially break my bones slipping on ice. Still, it feels like I should be doing something. I can’t cry in my beer, I don’t drink it. Hey, does that mean I can’t hang out with Toby Keith? Have you ever noticed how many songs he writes about beer, bars and drinking? Does that Oklahoma boy need a recovery program? Since I got side-tracked here by Toby let me just say I wish I could write country western songs. There’s a huge niche that needs filling. I mean, where are the old people songs about aging widows with too much time on their hands, fighting osteoporosis and finding comfortable shoes being better than Godiva chocolate martinis?

Back on topic: I’ve always been an insecure hostess stemming from the fact that I could qualify to be on the reality show Worst Cook in America. But I’m very proud of how one party I threw turned out. It was on the fifth anniversary of Don’s stroke and I billed it as his “Thank God I’m Alive” party. It was such a wonderful gift to give to my social butterfly of a husband and it was a way to acknowledge all we’d been through to get to that point---the long stroke recovery in the hospital and rehab, selling two houses and two businesses, downsizing in every way possible including having two auctions, then designing and building a new house. The guest list started out at sixty but nearly a dozen more people had heard about the party and invited themselves. Everyone was so happy that day, so filled with joy and laughter. It was a real turning point in our lives---victims turned survivors. I suspect that rebuilding my life after Don’s death will be the same way. At some point in the future it will dawn on me that I’ve turned off Victim Road and I’ll once again be walking on Survivor Street with my head held high in the sun.

The whole reason I’m thinking about that ‘give thanks’ party now is to remind myself that it doesn’t matter one whit what I do or don’t do to acknowledge the first anniversary of Don’s death coming up on the 18th. I gave him my best while he was here to appreciate it. The depth of my grief and love aren't measured by how well I decorate a grave site or throw rose petals in Lake Michigan or spread wild flower seeds along the nature trail where Don’s ashes reside. Whatever I do now to mark the day is for me…and I think I’ll take the dog shopping then stop by Starbucks for coffee and a cup of cream. I may even go to the florist to buy myself a single white orchid which during bereavement expresses “I will always love you.” The x-florist in me can’t ignore those twenty years of my life and the symbolism of flowers. A single flower on my counter top will remind me that all growing things---including humans--evidently peak in their beauty then wither and die leaving behind their seeds for the cycle of life to begin anew. ©
 
Cupcakes for Don's Party

8 comments:

  1. Jean :

    I have told you before but will say again like smitten person, I love your writing. I love that throwing I am alive party for Don blog which encoraged me to celebrate my stroke anniversary as our valentine date, and man I look forward to my stroke anniversary now. this anniversary has become day to celebrate hubby's love which I understood fully on that day & days to come. So please celebrate this anniversary with Levi. you have so many wonderful memories of Don to celebrate.

    Asha

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  2. Thanks, Asha. Sometimes I think I've mentioned that party too often in the past. But you remind me that blogging about back during the planning stages and afterward did help a lot of caregivers and stroke survivors think differently about an anniversary that is often very hard to get threw. The weather looks good for Friday so Levi will get to roam the aisles at Chow Hound, one of his favorite places on earth.

    I'm so happy to hear you've got something very special and romantic to look forward to on Valentine's Day. You've come a long way and have every right to be proud of yourself!

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  3. What a wonderful post. Wishing you healing, in whatever form or fashion it takes, on the 18th. My dog has received many a "puppy latte" from Starbucks to compensate for my grief ;)
    -Katja.

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  4. Thank you, Katja. I've often wondered if Starbucks gives out 'puppy lattes' nation-wide or it was just something our local manager allows.

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  5. Worst cook in America? A woman I identify with! How about your having a delicious catered meal, aka take-out? If there is one day to indulge, this is it. Perhaps Don, in absentia, would be throwing a 'Thank God You're Alive Party' for YOU this day.

    Do keep writing. I am glad we met here.

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  6. Thanks, GowitheFlo. I've always wanted to do take-out Applebee's. I think you just gave me permission to indulge that way. LOL

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  7. Your writing does help me every day. I am almost 3 years out and this sentence, "At some point in the future it will dawn on me that I’ve turned off Victim Road and I’ll once again be walking on Survivor Street with my head held high in the sun.", spoke to me. I think I am on Survivor Street, now I just need to not feel guilty about turning off Victim Road.

    As far as the first anniversary, I ran away from home. It was Easter weekend and went to be with my son in Montana. Nothing makes it easier, but for me the anticipation of the special days are much worse the the actual days themselves.


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  8. Thanks, Marg. We live so much of our lives in guilt mode without even realizing it. I'm glad you're on Survivor Street and can now work on the guilt that naturally comes with that turning point.

    I can't wait until tomorrow passes. I know you're right about the anticipation being the worst part of this first anniversary.

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