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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Week of Missing Airplanes and Other Things

 

Monday I woke up to an inch of snow covering everything within my view. Again! Will winter never end? By the time I had to run the dog to the groomers the new snow was gone but the old snow is still covering everything but roads, sidewalks and parking lots and it’s as hard as concrete. I know this because I tried to move a pile of snow yesterday after my dog discovered he can climb the snow pile in his pen as good as any mountain goat could do. If you want to see an old lady freaking out, come by the next time Levi tries out his new climbing skills. They could easily lead him to a Great Escape to the other side of the fence where his nemesis, the neighborhood tabby cat, runs free and tries to tempt Levi into a steeplechase.

Tuesday I woke up to an inch and a half of new snow covering everything. Yet again! But this time it stuck around all day. Not to fear. It didn’t keep me at home. I had a lecture to attend on the mystery of NWA Flight 2501, a brand new DC-4 airplane that disappeared over Lake Michigan in 1950 and to this day has not been found. The author of the book Fatal Crossing, Valerie Van Heest, presented the program. She’s an underwater shipwreck explorer and researcher who has spent over a decade every spring teaming up with world reknown author and marine archaeologist Cleve Cussler to find the DC-4 using sonar equipment on loan from an agency that Cussler founded.

The film that was part of the lecture had a lot of vintage and recent videotaped interviews of people who’d help clean up the beaches after the crash, along with men who were in the coast guard who’d gone out to look for survivors in vain, and of family members who were left behind. It was a sobering fact that none of the debris that washed up on shore two days after the plane disappeared was bigger than a suitcase and that none of the many body parts that washed up were larger than part of a torso. They knew it was a torso only because it had a belly button.

They’ve searched three-fourths of the target area where Flight 2501 supposedly went down during a storm, factoring in the current patterns just like they are doing now to find the missing Malaysia plane debris. As I said, they haven’t found the DC-4 in this area known as Michigan’s Bermuda Triangle---yet---but they did find and document seven shipwrecks and they are going to start looking again when the ice is off the lake. While researching the lost plane Valarie found a one line notion in a coast guard log that said they had buried all the cremated body parts in a local cemetery. With more research, she found the unmarked burial site and the fact that none of relatives were told about this final resting place. At the end of the film it showed a memorial stone that finally marks where the remains of the victims are buried and the large stone lists the names of all 58 passengers and crew aboard. A well-attended memorial service was held 62 years too late but it did bring closure for the family members that attended. As Valarie put it, they went looking for an airplane but they found something far more valuable. It was a fascinating lecture---hearing the details of the detective work that is used to find old ships and planes under water. If my Michigan friends ever get a chance to see one of her lectures, don’t miss it.

After the shock and awe of that lecture it was a surreal experience to be running errands as if nothing I’d just seen had affected me, but that’s what I did and at one point I nearly caused an accident. It didn’t help that it was one of those days where I had to repeat stuff I’d already done which always puts me in a bad mood. Old people like me don’t have time for déjà vu days! For example, I bought a new set of sheets and had to return them because the pillow case was missing and I wasn’t about to pay $29.00 for a twin set and not get everything included. I also had bought a steamer pot for the microwave, unpacked it and found it was chipped. If I wanted to buy chipped I’d go to a flea market. Then I had to go back to JoAnn’s, a huge fabric and craft store, because I misread the dye lot on some yarn I bought and what I thought matched, didn’t. Note to self: time to make an appointment with the eye doctor.

And so it goes here on Widowhood Lane. Another half week gone, another half week and maybe Weight Watchers waiting for me tomorrow. Yes, fatty-fatty-two-by-four is thinking about going to the land of group support to lose the pounds her Winter of Boredom helped put on. ©


8 comments:

  1. Jean--I never, ever heard about this plane crash over the Lake. I have never seen a memorial to it. Do you know in which cemetery it is located? I know Lake Michigan is deep, but they should have found something by now. WOW More snow Thursday, I think--then in the fifties on Monday. Perhaps spring might just be coming? Probably it will crash into Lake Michigan and miss all altogether this year and go straight into the '90's.

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    1. Yes, I do know. The cemetery is Riverside in St. Joseph. The memorial is only a few years old and here's a link to more about it. http://northwestairlinesflight2501.com/#!/nwa-flt-2501-memorial One theory of why the plane hasn't been found is that it blew up into so many little pieces that there is nothing left to find. Another theory is that the plane landed in an area of Lake Michigan where the bottom is nothing but deep mud and that it swallowed up the plane and sonar is unable to pick it up through the mud. Even more surprising to me than not finding the plane is the fact that Lake Michigan has a Bermuda triangle that has caused over 200 ships to go under mysteriously...more than the triangle in Bermuda.

      I'm afraid we will go from winter to summer and have a lot of severe tornado weather this year.

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  2. Oh how I wish you lived closer. I'd go to W/W with you. This was a bad winter for my eating habits and my laziness about exercising.

    Your lecture sounds interesting. How odd that they didn't tell the families where the remains were. I can't help but wonder how they came to that decision. What a story.

    Your lecturer sounds very interesting.

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    1. This lecture was booked last October. It was just a fluke that it was so timely. I've also seen one of her shipwreck lectures. She's very interesting and detailed. No one knows why they didn't tell the families about the remains. My best guess is they were overwhelmed dealing with the search for survivors and the plane and thought they were saving the families some grief. At that point in time it was the worst airplane crash in America. Today, they would have been able to use DNA to ID body parts but back then they couldn't thus the mass grave and the secrecy .

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  3. Morning! Hey ... DO join WW as I just started on Monday. I have NOT followed the plan so well this week but I am eating better because I am paying attention. Seems like my whole week has been like your deja vu day!

    You sleep in a twin bed? I probably could do well in just a queen size, but I went ahead and purchased the king size so I have room for wiggly boys! And learning to be a bed hog rather than a side hanger-on!!!

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    1. I had to have a twin when my husband was alive because a person who is paralyzed down one side can not get out of a bigger bed...we all tend to drift toward the middle. So we had two twins side by side. We had just bought new and very costly mattresses before he died and going to another size was poor timing.

      Don't you just hate those deja vu days! I'm pretty sure I'm going to go to W.W. I have one more day to decide.

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  4. What a fascinating story. How odd there was no trace, except for a few body parts and small items. If there was no plane found, no intact victims and no memorial service, did everybody but the families and friends of the victims just shrug their shoulders and move on? That was a different media world back then.

    Maybe there's too much information. I find myself checking frequently for breaking news on Flight 370, but I'm ashamed to say it feels like I'm following a grisly reality show. I do hope there will be an official Memorial Service for Flight 370 victims.

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    1. The interviews of family members still alive left the impression that they didn't just "shrug their shoulders and move on." They were haunted by it and were really thankful someone was digging into the crash with such depth. That lecture really brought it home to me how improbably it will be that the families of Fight 370 will ever get any real closure. I am checking in on the search often, too. And it's funny you should mention "reality show" because I had that exact same thought yesterday!

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