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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Widow's Birthday Card


My computer has been crashing when I open up too much stuff at the same time. It’s been this way a month or more and the computer guy that checked it out says I need a new one, that he can’t fix what’s wrong with my old baby. Then two days ago I thought it was finally time to plan its funeral in the land of obsolete equipment. It was turning itself off within a few minutes of turning it on. Long story short, after two days of hand ringing I figured out the surge protector was cutting in and out and that was turning the computer off.  A new surge protector later and my old baby gets a reprieve. I hate the idea of shopping for a new computer! I don’t want to leave the land of XP for Windows 8 but it’s got to happen one of these days. When am I going to get too old to navigate the learning curves that come with updating computers?

When my computer was down these past two days I was going through withdrawals from spend my mornings online. So I started sorting out a couple of boxes in the garage and I ran across a birthday card I’d given Don on his 50th birthday. I didn’t know he’d saved it. Inside of the card I had written the following:

Dear Don,

From the beginning of life to the end, we use our birthdays as benchmarks to our accomplishments. By five years old we’ve learned to walk, talk and go to the bathroom by ourselves and those who love us celebrate these things and all we have to look forward to in life.

Our thirteenth birthdays mark yet another milestone, an era when our potential and promise are formed and when we’re ready to embark on a voyage into adolescents.

Like everyone else, we took the passing of our sixteenth and twenty-first birthdays for granted, like they were our God given right.  Now, we smile at the memories of those carefree days and sometimes we wonder why youth is wasted on the young.

Then came our thirtieth and fortieth birthdays and with each we questioned where we’d been in life and where we’d hope to be.  The joy, the celebrations of our birthdays diminished over those years as we forgot how to examine the accomplishments we’d made---learning to stand on our own, career building, the friendships we’d been able to keep through the years, and the mental strength we’d honed.

Like all the others, our fiftieth birthday marks another bank of accomplishments. We’ve just come through a tough decade in our lives. An era of losses---our parents, our once perfect health and our youthful looks, dreams that can never be. All these losses have the power to make us stronger and more appreciative of everything we still have. It’s a time for reevaluation, for setting different goals. But most of all, fifth birthdays are a benchmark to celebrate life and the fact that we’ve still got 30 or 40 years left before we forget how to walk, talk and go to the bathroom by ourselves.

With all my love, Jean

It’s funny how a widow keeps finding things and people who pull her back to forgotten memories and events. I hadn’t seen that card for over twenty years. I also found it on a day when I had met a guy when I was out walking the dog who knew Don from Don’s trips around the neighborhood in his electric wheelchair. He knew who I was from seeing me pass by with Don in our Traverse but I wasn’t aware of him. He said he thought Don left behind a great legacy, a legacy of showing others how to accept living with a disability with grace and making the most of what he had. The neighbor also told me a funny story of how one time he was having a birthday party and Don cruised right into the outdoor event like he’d been an invited guest and before they knew it, Don was entertaining everyone with his aphasia driven antics. That was Don, the guy whose stroke taught him how to be a mime. Running into this guy was like getting a new surge protector for my computer. He made Don come alive to me again. And that reminded me of how much I still miss him! ©

9 comments:

  1. Ah Jean. Today, for some reason, a comment was made about Fred,"He was such a great guy,"--brought back all of the memories of what a sweet, loving, easy going, great guy he was. When those memories come--then the missing comes and stays around for a few hours. Beautiful message you wrote for him--almost a love poem. Glad you found the card--really glad you found it. Don't throw it out.

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  2. Thanks. I won't throw it away.

    It really is nice when someone tells me something I didn't know about Don, like the guy did I wrote about. Glad you also had a walk down Memory Lane today, too. Those walks are worth the bitter sweetness that comes with them...at least for me.

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  3. What a loving and wise note you wrote to Don. It reminds me how God weaves lives together, maybe not forever, but enduringly. I rarely miss my late husband anymore, yet he's in my warp and woof.

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  4. Thank you. What a lovely way to put it...that your husband is in your warp and woof. How true that is of all the people who've been important to us over the years.

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  5. Jean :
    your lovestory & pray that our lovestory also gets as sweeter as yours as more years go on.

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  6. Thank you, anonymous. Relationships are hard work but SO worth the effort. Sadly,I don't think many of us really appreciates what we have until it's gone.

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  7. Jean, I'm so glad that this stranger stopped to tell you about his memories of Don. What a gift!
    BTW, when you need to bite the bullet and get a new computer, you might look for one running Windows 7. I made the switch from XP to Windows 7 last year, and it was very easy. Windows 7 is a lot like XP, but better. -Jean

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  8. Jean, I just love your observations on human nature, and your humor. It blows me away. What a great card. I laughed, but it also hurt to read it because of the truths. But I am so glad finding it coincided with your neighbor's wonderful story about Don, "the mime". No words needed, it said so much about him and what he was like.

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  9. Stepintofuture: You're not to only person to tell me that about the jump between XP and Windows 7. The guy at the computer repair told me the same thing, but he also said that Windows 7 is getting harder and harder to find on new machines, but is still available on refurnished computers. I've got to do something soon!

    Bedragged: Thank you so much for the comment! Sometimes I wonder why I keep blogging and it's really nice to hear when someone "gets" me.

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