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

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Widow's Dance


Nearly twenty months out from my husband’s passing and there are still “death details” to iron out. The latest one involves getting the deed on the house transferred from my husband’s and my name to just mine. Should be simple, right? There's no mortgage and a quick claim deed filed with a death certificate should take care of the matter. Or so I was told. But the county clerk sent the papers back to me with a note saying that I must provide proof that we were married at the time he died. How do you prove something like that and why isn’t it enough that the death certificate lists me as Don’s wife? You get documents to prove birth, death, marriage and divorce but no one issues you a yup-you’re-still-married certificate. To make it more frustrating, the quick claim form came back on Saturday so I have the whole, long holiday weekend to mull over this “hiccup” before I can make some calls to find out how exactly I’m suppose to prove what they want me to prove. It’s the widow’s dance: two-three steps forward, one step back.

Then there is the mail addressed to Don that never seems to end. Some days he gets more than I do. Yes, I know I could go down to the post office, file out a form and they’ll return all of his mail to the senders. But every so often something important comes along with all his junk mail and even though I think I’ve gotten the important stuff---the bills, credit cards and banking---all changed over to my name what if I don’t? I’d also hate it if Don won the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes and the post office sent his over-sized check back. His junk mail gives me a good memory once in a while, too, like recently when a car dealership sent a key in the mail inviting him to try the key out on a car they’re giving away and if doesn’t fit at least he’d get a brand new dollar coin for coming down. Of course, we’d have to go to the dealership when he got one of those keys in the past but I honestly think he would have been disappointed if he’d won the car instead of the coin. What can I say, it was cheap entertainment to indulge Don’s dealership key plan for adding to his coin collection.

If it wasn’t for long holiday weekends I’d say I’m doing well managing my post-Don life. I got through the first year---the mourning year---and I’m closing in on the end of the second year---the rebuilding my life year. This widow is on track to finding and opening the next chapter in my life, whatever that turns out to be. I’m still exploring. But in the still of the night when I can’t fall asleep I am still making peace with the fact that although I will have meaningful activities in my life again I will never have another relationship as rich as ours was. I’m old and it takes more years than I have left to build that depth of trust, respect, friendship and love. Not that that fact should keep me from getting out in the world. The hermit life style might be easier, less scary than putting myself out there in the world but hermits start smelling funky after awhile. That’s not for me; I wholeheartedly want to continue supporting the soap and lotions companies.

Long holiday weekends suck. Have I mentioned that yet? Family parties and gatherings: gone and are never coming back. Mini vacations along Lake Michigan with Don: gone and are never coming back. Fun work projects around the house: bingo! Work projects can still happen with a plan. I’ve been lusting after a bottle tree. Maybe next forth of July or Labor Day I could build one. Maybe I could even venture to a spa like I’ve always wanted to do. Maybe I could paint a room or alphabetize the books in the library. Maybe I could volunteer to work at the museum or at the union's labor day parade. It doesn’t matter what I do so long as I don’t do what I’ve done this year and last....just sit around remembering holidays past. A proactive strategy for future long holidays could, would and will be a good goal for year three. Take a note, Watson, the widow has just figured out how to keep dancing forward.  ©

10 comments:

  1. That sort of red tape would bring out my "YOU IDIOT" reaction and I'd send an original copy of the obituary, a picture of the two of you taken on Christmas 2010, and a note saying, "I don't how else to prove we were still married at the time of his death. I didn't know I should take pictures of me weeping over his casket. if these items don't prove we were married, then please send me a reply or hint as to what would?" I love playing with the bureaucracy!!

    Your friend, the Funky Hermit!

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  2. I thought about sending in a copy of the obituary but I decided to wait until next week when I can get a free 15 minute appointment with a lawyer at the senior center. He should know what it will take to please the powers that be.

    I knew you'd pick up on the hermit comment. LOL

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  3. That's a puzzle. I actually realized I was tilting my head and looking toward the ceiling after I read it. When we moved back home, I recall trying to get my driver's license. My husband had no problem, but I had to prove what my name used to be and if it had changed and when it had changed, but they had a list of acceptable documents to do that. I'm amazed that they require you to do that but give you no information of how to do it. You're right. It's easy to prove when you were born, married or died, but how do you prove you remained married?

    I can see how the long weekends and holidays can be very tough. I've thought about how difficult it is to make those deep relationships with new friends. Relationships like that are years in the making, but I've no doubt that it's more difficult in the husband/boyfriend arena. The hard part of aging is about loss and adjusting and the sore joints, of course.

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  4. Every time I run into one of these classic legal 'widow problems' I might get frustrated but I realize the rules are to protect us as much as frustrate us. The hoops I have to jump through to draw money out of what used to be my husband's IRA is unreal BUT would we really want it to be so easy anyone could step in and take what rightfully belongs to the widow? Next month I hope to set up an auto-annual withdrawal as a way to do away with that dance.

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  5. re: the doing things differently. I just disembarked from a plane at my home airport this weekend. The first time I flew, last summer, I nearly sobbed, because my husband and kids were always waiting for me. The second time, last fall, I felt that, but I proceeded to the long-term parking garage. This time, the third time, I got off the plane and headed for the long-term parking. It was only when I passed the baggage carousel that I remembered how different it used to be. That's all to say, yes, do things differently next holiday weekend. It will become the "new normal."

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  6. Thanks for sharing that. Getting used to the new normal is progress. I know I, too, have made progress in that department but with holidays I still have a way to go and it won't happen without a plan. Welcome home!

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  7. Last year, Ralph and I decided to stay in Maui for Thanksgiving. But caved in and returned to Portland for Christmas (four weeks). This year I'm staying on Maui for all the holidays. Sniff sniff. Wish me luck! It's going to be hard ... apparently for many years ....

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  8. Sounds like a good plan. Maybe your widow's group there can do some get-togethers and invite me. LOL

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  9. I once knew a woman who was a Navy officer who got in trouble for not designating a certain portion of her pay to be sent directly to her husband and had to prove she was not married and didn't have a husband! (Just to add to the absurdity of this, the Navy officer was actually a lesbian but couldn't say so without being tossed out of the Navy.) She decided to bury the Navy bureaucracy in paper. She got signed affidavits from at least a dozen clergy testifying that they had never married her to anyone and similar signed affidavits from dozens of friends and acquaintances testifying that they had never known her to have a husband and never seen her with a husband! I hope your Senior Center lawyer has a simpler solution for you. :-) -Jean

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  10. Wow, that WOULD be an absurd thing to have to prove! I see the lawyer tomorrow and hope he/she has an easier fix.

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