In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 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.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
From Laughter to Tears
It was early Saturday morning when I grabbed a stool at the counter of the Breakfast Only Café. You’d have to be blind not to notice the older woman sitting next to me. She was dressed in what can only be described as an outfit you’d expect a rodeo queen to be wearing----red jeans and a white satin western cut shirt that was trimmed with long red fringe, a red collar and cuffs, and pearl covered snaps. The tailoring and fit was impeccable. As I tried to figure out a nice way to ask her about the ‘Dale Evans’ outfit she said to me, “I love your glasses. I’ve always thought glasses are like jewelry for your face.”
“Thanks,” I replied. “I let the guy at the eyeglass place pick them and I think he did a good job. I get a lot of compliments on them.”
From that simple beginning we babbled back and forth like a couple of cartoon strip magpies on a clothesline. We joked and laughed, we exchanged bits of old people philosophy and personal history until our food got too cold and we had to ask for doggie boxes. Turns out she was a costumer with the local civil theatre and she liked talking to me enough that she asked if we could exchange contact information. Wow, I made a friend! If I keep going to the café on regular basis I think this place is going to turn into my Cheers---you know Cheers, that Boston bar on the old TV sitcom where everyone knows your name. I left in a happy and upbeat mood.
The farmer’s market was next on my list and today it had to share billing in town with the Start of Summer parade. It seems like everyone I meet or read about lately in my peer group has a garden to tend---including the Dale Evan look-a-like---so on a whim I bought a six pack of lettuce plants. I’ve never grown lettuce in my life and I plan to put half in containers on my deck and the other half out in the yard for the rabbits.
The parade was an interesting place to people watch and probably the most interesting person was the mime the town hires to direct traffic. He was dressed in a red French beret, long vest and he was wearing classic mime face paint. When I crossed the street he mimicked my arm in the sling and pretended to wipe tears from his eyes. Once when no cars were waiting for his directions he pulled up a pretend chair in the middle of the intersection and sat down. It was also fun to watch the town photographer walk up and down street, taking pictures of all the kids and colorful characters. Oh, my god, speaking of colorful characters I saw a girl who carried her smart phone in her butt crack, half in and half out of her very low riding hip huggers. The germ-a-phobic in me wanted to haul out a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner and give her cell a bath. Another character was a huge man with a tiny toy breed dog balancing on his shoulder. As he proudly walked the crowed sidewalk every so often he’d say in a loud voice, “I’ve got a bird dog!” He made me laugh but another dog that watched the parade from near-by where I sat made me cry.
It was a golden retriever wearing a therapy dog vest, a Comfort Dog like those that went to Sandy Hook elementary after the massacre six months ago. I don’t know why the tears came flowing out of the blue when I first saw that dog but I had a hard time turning them off. Maybe it was because I was having such a good time at the parade and the dog reminded of all those little kids (and my husband) who will never get to go to another hometown parade? It’s hard sometimes to understand how a good mood can turn on a dime.
I talked to the dog’s handler and this particular dog had not been one from the area who went to Connecticut. This dog is still in training and was at the parade to get used to crowds and loud noises. I smiled when the handler said that and I told her I had wondered at one point who was comforting who. The dog nuzzled his face into side of my leg and let me pet him to my heart’s content, leaning into me the whole time. Obviously, the giving comfort part of his training was not something he still needed to work on. My tears had dried up by then but my upbeat mood had been replaced with the exhaustion that often comes with unexplained tears. But before going home I swung by the town cemetery to check on Don’s grave and to eat a ginger-molasses cookie I had bought at the Breakfast Only Café. I told Don about the Comfort Dog and he told me to go home and get some milk to go with that comfort cookie. And thus another misadventure in widowhood came to an end. ©