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

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Year Two on Widowhood Lane: Choose Your Change!

People in the blog community occasionally feed off one another for inspiration or topics to write about. That’s what happen to me recently when I read a post by the “Awkward Widow” titled Sexagenarian. She was sharing some advice from Nancy Alock Hood, a woman who got married for the first time at the ripe old age of 82 years old. Nancy is quoted as saying: “Change happens, so choose your change.” Simple but profound advice, don’t you think? She was talking about embracing change and planning what you want your future days and years to look like in retirement but it could just as easily be applied to the changes that come with widowhood, divorce, disability or the loss of a job. “Choose your change,” I think that’s going to be my new mantra for 2014. I don’t want to be a victim of life just drifting along, I want to be walking to and working towards something besides the grave. That might be tricky to figure out, though, because I never could decide what I want to be when I grow up. The world is a huge smorgasbord of possibilities even though one might say my ‘dessert line’ was closed when Don passed away.

Last year, my first holiday season without my husband, I had invitations for only two holiday related events. This year I had eight although the weather has already prevented me from going to a lighting ceremony for members only at the sculpture park and a potluck at the historical society. Two other parties I’ve already attended and of the four remaining parties I’ll be lucky if I don’t get snowed out of two because they are both out of town---the two I want to go to the most, my family’s annual Christmas Eve party at my niece’s and a Red Hat Society party.

Sunday I went to a family party on my deceased husband’s side of the family. Aside from the fact that’s its really weird calling Don “my deceased husband” which I’ve noticed myself doing in public lately, I was the second oldest person at the party. Of the thirty-seven people attending only two of us were old enough to collect Medicare. Talk about weird! It was weird looking around the room knowing that half the people there I’ve known since birth and the other half I’ve watched grow up from their teen years. But I feel at home with my husband’s family. They have always been warm and accepting of me both before and after Don died which, sadly, isn’t always the case for all widows. Invitations to in-law events dry up or a widow feels out of place.

On the way home from the party one of my great-nephew’s in-laws stopped over to complete a trade we’d worked out earlier in the week. He drilled a hole in a bookcase for me that I’ll need to pass a plug through when the cable guy comes on Thursday and I gave him a 1975 original watercolor that Don treasured. It was of a wooded scene with a deer standing at alert. This nephew had gone hunting with his dad and Don several times when he was a teen and Don always prided himself on teaching both of them about hunters safety, good hunting ethics and a love of the woods. Then after Don’s stroke the great-nephew became a guide for Don when he took part in Michigan’s first disabled deer hunt and camp. (It’s no small feat to get wheelchair bound guys out in the woods but this group of dedicated volunteers has been doing it for 7-8 years now.) The new proud owner of the watercolor just lost his grandfather a week ago and he had hunted with him for many times as well and his eyes got a little misty when I gave him the painting. It’s a good feeling to give things away that you know will have special meaning to others. Widow’s work like this never seems to end. Just when you think it has, another opportunity presents itself.

For 2013 my mantra for the year was one word---bravery---and I even bought a cowardly lion necklace to wear when I was going someplace alone and scary for the first time. It’s served me well this past year and I think my mantra for 2014 will do the same. Whenever I seem to be floundering and not sure of what I want to be when I grow up I’m going to repeat to myself: “choose your change” until I actually remember that I am controlling my own strings and I can transform my life into whatever I want. What about you? Do you think you can choose your change...or do you feel like the past is still controlling your strings? ©

The Watercolor


8 comments:

  1. Now that is another great idea! A cowardly lion necklace. That's exactly how I feel!! I am learning so much from you (and my other widow friends) about thriving under these circumstances. It is still awkward to chit chat with a large group of strangers. (Honestly, it always was ... but it was usually for his business so at least we had something in common to open a conversation).

    I love gathering inspiring information from the internet to add to my blog. And glad to share my finds!

    You have/had a LOT of holiday functions! I'm excited to have three. A progressive dinner on Weds (thanks to All the Rumors are True blogger, Leslie), a play on Saturday night with the little band of Merry Widows and two gal pals joining me for Christmas. Probably with my three neighbor kids for New Year's Eve ... gathering outside while everyone does fireworks in the street!

    Not too bad for the first holiday season.

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  2. If you want to see a photo of the lion necklace I wore to so many things earlier this year, check out this post: http://misadventuresofwidowhood.blogspot.com/2013/02/wedding-bands-and-borrowed-courage.html You can't post live links in these comment boxes so you'll have to cut and paste it.. The lion is at the end of the post. The necklace at the top has Don's wedding ring incorporated and I wore that a lot, too.

    For your first holiday without your husband, you're doing well to commit to three gatherings.

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    1. I love your necklace. I love your lion. I need to get myself a lion.

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    2. The lion I got wasn't hard to find. It came from eBay and looks more expensive than it was.

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  3. We all need a lion. This is such a great post for the holidays, for anytime. I'm glad you have a lot of invites and that you're going to them. I hope the weather cooperates, especially on Christmas Eve.

    I know exactly how you feel about giving the painting to your nephew. I had a very similar experience the night Dad died. There was a great photo of my brother and Dad hanging on Dad's wall. I'd given it to Dad years ago. I took it off the wall and gave it to my nephew - my brother's son. I turned it over and showed him where I'd written on the back, For Little Joe. I'd written it there a few years ago so he would get it eventually. He was moved, and I was glad for him to have it.

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  4. Bella: Gifts like the painting and your photo are so much more than just gifts. They are a connection between generations that will endure. And to give a gift like that is like getting a warm hug, isn't it.

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  5. Choose your change. I've been pondering your delightful post for a few days. A book I‘ve been reading, "When Everything Changes, Change Everything" by Neale Donald Walsch, has pushed me toward this point of view. As the Awkward Widow says, ‘Choose the change‘.

    I see you as a woman determined to not let the tail wag the dog. Me, neither. You are really ahead of the game! I remember the first couple years of my own widowhood the tail was wagging the dog. I lived with the desperation and intensity of someone out of breath underwater racing toward the surface.

    That was a long time ago. Now 'Choose the change' is about appreciating who I am, what I create, inviting things and people into my life. If they want to stay, fine. If they don't want to, fine. I now believe happiness is an inside job.

    'Choosing the change' this year will be in expanding my own quirky artistic realm.

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  6. I loved Neale Donald Walsh's Conversations with God books! I'll bet I'd like the book you mentioned as well.

    The only tail that ways my life is my dog's and his little schnauzer tail is so short it doesn't do a lot of good. LOL

    You go, girl! Choose your change for 2014. I look forward to reading your progress into your "quirky artistic realm."

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