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, April 7, 2014

Remember Back When Obama Was President?



My first week of returning to eBay auctions went well enough. I listed five items, sold four for a grand total of $282.45. With the one that didn’t sale, I had calculated the shipping wrong, so the corrected listing should sell the item this coming week. That old can photographed at the top accounted for more than half of that $282.45 and many widows---upon finding that in the garage---would have thrown it away. It makes me crazy when I hear about widows who throw out all of their husband’s garage stuff without first finding out if there was a method to his madness. And tools alone deserve a garage sale, not a trash bin. But I can only sing that song so many times before I start sounding like a broken record. Now, I only have to repeat my first auction results two more times this month to pay for the spring cleanup and bark application in the yard. Then May’s auction should pay for my wrap-around deck to get stained. My financial life this summer will be like one big Monopoly game. I advance past ‘Go’, collect $200 then I land on a piece of property that just happens to cost $200.00. Funny how that works. I want to get the house power washed, the windows professionally cleaned and few other things that didn’t get done last summer when my sump pump failed during our record setting rains and the basement got flooded. Knock on wood that this summer doesn’t bring me another “Go directly to jail,” card “do not pass go, do not collect $200.”

One of my cousins used to administer tests to determine if someone could be declared legally incompetent to live alone. Twenty-one questions---back 15 years ago---was all that stood in between old people being shipped off to a nursing home or them being able to thumb their noses at a relative who doubted their mental facilities. She used to joke that she had all the answers memorized so that she could pass the test when the bell tolled for her. In the last few years of my dad’s life, I had to take him to a geriatric psychiatrist every two months for an interview and one of those twenty-one questions competency tests. His testing was required because he was taking part in a clinical drug trial designed to slow down the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a drug that has since come to market. I think of all those times I sat and listened to him struggle to come up with the names of politicians in office whenever I’m tempted to give myself a news blackout. You’ve got to stay current when you get old! It doesn’t matter that a good share of kids under 40 can’t name a Supreme Court Justice but if you’re 75 or 80 you bet your future on knowing stuff like that.

My dad was the wisest, most compassionate man I’ve ever known. Even so, sharing care of an elderly parent in their own home isn’t easy but I am proud of the fact that my brother and I was able to do it until a couple of weeks before he died. We would have made it to the end if I hadn’t taken a nasty fall, broking my arm in three places, and I had to have surgery. Then I spent twelve weeks in a turn-buckle cast. Try picking out clothing to wear to a funeral with one of those things attached to your body. As hard as those five years of caring for my dad were, I have many treasured memories that were generated during that time frame. Like the time the doctor asked Dad who the president was and he gave the wrong answer. When the doctor corrected him, Dad replied: “My daughter tried to tell me that in the parking lot but I didn’t believe her!” Caregiver humor seems to come along when you need it the most. Kind of like the darker form of humor that comes along during the first year or two of widowhood. What got me to thinking about Dad today was my hairdresser. She is at the beginning stages of having to oversee her aging mother. If it’s true that we can judge a society by the way we treat the elderly, I think there is much to be hopeful about in America. Most of us do step up to the plate when the times comes.

Some people don’t understand why some of us faithfully tend our blogs like spring gardens that need their tender little sprouts babied along, and I think the answer to that question can be found in this quote from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: “Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic. As one tends the graves of the dead, so I tend the books. And every day I open a volume or two, read a few lines or pages, allow the voices of the forgotten dead to resonate inside my head.”  I think we write blog posts to preserve the voices that speak inside our heads and the memories that seem to want to crowd each other out as time marches us toward our graves. In my case, I like to think that someday when I'm too old to remember who the president is one of my nieces will occasionally sit beside me, like a mother reading a fairytale to a five year old, and she’ll read me a few pages from my blog starting with the words, “Aunt Jean, remember back when Obama was the president and you wrote this….” ©

13 comments:

  1. You could print out the questions and then we all could print it out and look at it everyday so we'd have it memorized? I had one of those memory tests when I was in rehab with my hip replacement. I stunned the young lady asking the questions because, I made a story of the words she had given me to remember. It will be a long time before these young whippersnappers trick me!!!

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    1. Doesn't it just get you that they can place so much value on that kind of cognitive testing? Good for you, one-upping the 'young whippersnapper!'

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  2. It just took me five minutes to come up with Clarence Thomas. I hate this memory thing. We laugh about it, but it's a little scary.

    Good on you for your eBay sales.

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    1. Funny you should mention Clarence Thomas. When I was writing this I was trying to name the judges and I couldn't remember him. I could remember Annetta Hill, though.

      Thanks! e-Bay is a lot of work but fun at the same time.

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  3. That's funny, I remembered Anita Hill, too. I think they should ask about the seven dwarfs instead.

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    1. Aw, that puts grandmothers at an unfair advantage, or maybe Snow White is a fairytale the is no longer politically correct?

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  4. I agree! Give us a copy of the questions!!! We must be training ourselves and our minds now. Before our bunions and arthritis and cataracts take hold!!!

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    1. Gosh, Dad died in 1999. I'm sure they've changed the questions by now. LOL One thing that hasn't, I'm guessing, is they'll still want us to follow four part sequencing instructions like: Pick up the ink pen, put it in your pocket, take it out and place on the floor by your left foot.

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  5. Our parents do deserve our best, whether or not they were/are wise and compassionate. God knows - the Alzheimer version of life ending is a tough one. Your Dad begat a very compassionate daughter.

    Good luck for e-Bay sales! My Dad's house is full of wonderful historical artifacts. Luckily my brother-in-law has a keen eye for what's junk and what's not and does e-Bay. After hosting a giant tag sale, I passed on as much of my late husband's unwanted 'heirlooms' to my B-in-law to sell one way or another. Did sell a great canoe. Still have a large antique bed taking up space in my garage. Make it go away!!!

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    1. Sounds like you've made smart decisions liquidating stuff, you knew enough to engage your someone else who had a good eye. Antique beds are not the easiest things to sell because people like to sleep in bigger beds now days. Consignment shops might be one avenue or donate it to Goodwill or Salvation Army if you can use the tax write off is another. Some auctioneers will take a single piece to add into an action lot that needs more items. Last summer I sold an antique iron and brass bed on e-Bay for over $600 but I had to have help from someone who understood shipping items that large to help me before I listed it. It went from MI to CA and, of course, the buyer paid the freight.

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    2. Thank you for the ideas. We do have an auctioneer nearby. I will ask him about selling it. With its huge headboard and foot board, only short people would be comfortable in it. It was great for the guest room - nobody wanted to overstay their welcome. Then last year I put floor to ceiling, wall to wall cabinets in that room. Now only the mattress fits in!

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  6. I loved this post, truly loved it. Thanks. But then I love all your posts. Keep up the great work! We need your voice.

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    1. How kind you are! I have to admit that sometimes I wonder why I keep writing...that's what drove the last part of this entry.

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