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

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Letting Go of Our Ghosts


Levi, February 2013

I am so glad I don’t have to go outside in the winter and poop in the snow. Whoever invented indoor plumbing for humans should have a memorial built to them on Time Square. I thought about this while sitting in my warm, fuzzy bathrobe—the one that leaves pink dusty bunnies all over the house---and watching the dog outside in eight inches of snow looking for the perfect place to do his duty. What makes one place better than another I don’t know but Levi has a peculiar cat-like behavior of using his nose to push snow over his poop that is even harder to understand. Sometimes I think he doesn’t want me to find it because he suspects I’m the one stealing it when he’s not looking.

When I was younger I was a self-employed florist specializing in wedding flowers and I always worried about being a bag lady when I got too old to work. That emotional roller coaster is no longer on my worry plate but when I watch the dog outside in the winter I often think about the street people who live out in the elements. I can’t even stand the cold of winter while waiting at the door for the dog to come inside. I can’t imagine living in a cardboard box under a bridge. One of the things that made me fall in love with Don all those years ago is how generous he was with donating to our local mission and soup kitchen and that never changed over the years.

In our early years together Don didn’t just mail checks off to the soup kitchen, he’d often hand deliver them. Back in those days he had a gaggle of teens that worked for him in the summers doing asphalt resurfacing and patching. As teenaged boys go they often thought their lives were tougher than they really were. “My mom’s making me work for my own spending money!” Boohoo. So Don would make sure which every kid needed a reality check was in the truck when he’d drop off a donation to the soup kitchen and he’d make sure he’d do it while the street people were lined up outside the door waiting to get their only hot meal of the day. He’d pull right up to the front door and leave the boys in the truck while he walked around back to find the director of the charity. It was an uncomfortable place for the boys to wait while getting their first exposure to inner city, homeless people who really did have it tough. The conversations back to our side of town were what we called his “fifteen with father” teaching times. Don and I never had children but he never passed up an opportunity to teach the kids around him something about life. Never condensing or lecturing, always man to “man” with respect for their opinions but finding a way that got through their teenaged bravado and naivety.

We all leave our marks on the world in big and small ways…some good, some bad. Some of those marks are known to those around us but some are obscure even to those who thought they knew our spouses well---or think we know our own impact on the world, but really don’t have a clue to its extend. The trick is to get through life with more check marks in the ‘good’ column than the other. When a spouse dies we spend inordinate amount of time adding up all those big and small ways our loved one touched our world and the world at-large. We can’t help it. We want their lives to mean something, to count for more than just a stone in a cemetery and images in photographs. So we become accountants making sure we’ve cataloged everything in their ledger book before we can let go of our ghosts and the past that haunts us. It’s an unselfish act---letting go. Some of us want to hold on forever but we know we can’t. We let go of the past because we owe it to our families and ourselves to work at exchanging the pain of loss for the peace of acceptance---the loneliness of lost love for the solitude of knowing we had it in the first place. And because we still have marks to make in our own ledger books. ©

“Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go but rather learning to start over.”
Nicole Sobon

4 comments:

  1. You sure have a lot of snow. We had a couple of snowstorms but now our snow is all gone. But it is still cold.

    Love -

    Hershey and Kaci

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  2. We got most of that snow in one night! And we have more predicted for the next few days. I feel like a hermit, trapped.

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  3. Your last paragraph says it all. I thought I was a mean spirited person when I heard a widow go on and on about how she still is in grief, "but it's been "only" seven years"--that whole career thing I talk about--and I thought she was being selfish. Not only to herself, but all her family and friends--they must get so tired of being around the "poor, grieving widow".

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  4. I hear you Judy. I had to quit reading on a couple of widow support sites because that bothered me, too.

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