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

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Flowers and---Well, More Flowers

 

If you want to feel old really quick go to a lecture on Victorian flowers, fans and calling cards and when the costume curator from the local museum asks for a show of hands of people who know about the “language of flowers” raise your hand. I was one of four in an audience of over a hundred people who knew people in past centuries used flowers to send messages about feelings they dare not speak out loud. So why would one go to a lecture like that? For me, I got intensely interested in all things Victorian through reading historical romance novels but even before my decade of torrid reading I got hooked on Victorian furniture in my twenties, when I bought a Victorian parlor set at an estate sale. One would never guess that now, looking at my cowboy and Indian themed living room. The only thing Victorian left in the house is a table and lamp banished to the spare bedroom.

Back to flowers: I actually learned about the language of flowers before my Torrid Reading Decade. It was introduced to me at floral design school back in mid 1960s and when I first became a wedding designer in the floral industry. I actually did have a few customers in the early days who knew and wanted to incorporate the language of flowers into their weddings. The museum curator took the language a step farther than anything I had read before in my handy dictionary of flowers and their meanings by explaining why some the flowers got their “secret” meanings. For example, a peony translates to ‘shy’ and most liking got that meaning because to open they need ants to help them…shy to meet the world without help. The language of flowers actually goes back centuries before the Victorian Age and some plants, like mistletoe, still hold on to their original folklore meanings today.

Fortunately or unfortunately---I can’t decide--- before the lecture I had already purchased a bunch of plants to put in a narrow space in between my garage and the sidewalk leading to the front door. Otherwise I probably would have ended up with Scabiose aka The Devil’s Bit aka pincushion flowers stretching the entire twenty-two feet. You never know when a kick-back-to-the-past suitor might come knocking on my door and the pincushions would tell him that a widowhood lives inside. It would be like a flashing warning signal, “Beware, the person inside lost her love!” Instead, I’m confessing my love with moss roses mixed with hens, chickens and succulents. It was kind of funny watching my lawn care guy and his help plant those plants. (I can’t get down on my hands and knees with my three fake joints.) One started planting at one end, and the other started at the other end. I could tell they weren’t going to match up. Sure enough, one end had to be done over. When the guy asked me which end I thought looked better thus would stay as planted, I said, “Your end will look best the second half of the summer and her end will look better the first half of the summer. How's that for a diplomatic answer?”

Not much else is going on here on Widowhood Lane this weekend. Same old rigmarole. Jeez, do people even say that anymore? I suppose they do in the form of ‘same old same old.’ My dad used that word---rigmarole---a lot and I haven’t thought about it in years. It’s just as much fun to say now as when I was a kid. I miss my dad. He was such a wise, gentle and compassionate guy. He could see the best side of anything or anybody. Being this is Mother’s Day weekend I should put in a good word about my mom as well. She was a strong person with many talents whose growing-up years were extremely difficult and they made a pretty good team. ©

Mom and Dad

                                                                  

11 comments:

  1. What a great photo of your parents. I love the old photos. They had such style back then. We've gotten very casual, and I'm all for comfort, but they sure looked stylish back then.

    So you were a wedding designer in a former life? Did you enjoy that?

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  2. Yes, I planned and made flowers for weddings for twenty years...10 working for someone else and 10 working for myself. I lost count but it was in the thousands of weddings that I did. I liked in in the first 15 years but that last five not so much. I got burned out.

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  3. You are like a peony! Every day you lift another petal with something new we can know about you. I hope this goes on for YEARS! Three new joints? Which????

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    1. Isn't that true of all of us, AW? It takes years to get to know everything about someone else. Which is one reason why I know I'll never get remarried. Took too long the first time. LOL

      I had two knee replacements---best thing I ever did for myself. And I call one of my elbow fake because I have so much medal screwed in there holding the shattered bones in place it might as well be. It happened before they had replacement parts otherwise I would have had one. At the time they weren't sure they could save the lower half of my arm because the elbow was so messed up. They called in a specialist (aka the only doctor willing to do the surgery) to try doing what they did, not knowing if it would work. It took six hours on the table, a turn-buckle brace, a LOT of therapy and two years to get my arm functioning almost as good as God intended. So while it's not technically a 'new joint' it is man-made....or I should say woman-man. The surgeon was a crusty old maid near retirement who, for fun,used to ice skate. Can you imagine what she must have went through to fight her way into a male dominated (at the time) field? I don't baby that arm but there are a few things I still can't do.

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    2. Fascinating... I think of the people who see us through the hard times, and this surgeon took on your tough case, making your elbow work again... I hope she's enjoying her retirement, or dancing through the flowers in heaven!

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  4. Your Daddy was the perfect man for your Momma--she probably needed lots of positivity in her life.

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    1. I think you're right Judy. They both grew up very poor and without mothers from a very early age but Dad had his siblings and father still in his life. My mom and her siblings were all separated and raised by other relatives. She was in the work force by age ten.

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  5. So flowers were the emoticons of yesteryear. It's weird to use a language - floral - that few people speak anymore. And it's difficult to imagine that kids will get nostalgic for emoticons.

    It sounds like you were a romantic in your twenties. Did designing floral arrangements for weddings put the kibosh on that, or did meeting your real sweetheart or something else? I'm still a romantic, though flowers more than men are the objects of my fascination. I mean, what is life without romance?

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    1. Every Victorian upper crust home had a dictionary of flowers to guide them on how to use flowers and hot houses to grow them.

      What turned me off from weddings is having repeat customers come back after their divorces and want me to help plan their next weddings. One girl brought me photos of all 4-5 of her other weddings and wanted flowers different from those. I decide right there and then to go out of the wedding business.

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  6. We really like the picture of your Mom and Dad. And it is amazing that the men had nice wavy hair and the women had straight hair.

    Mama's Dad is alive and in his 80's. Her mother passed away almost 12 years ago from cancer. Sometimes it still haunts her to this day.

    Love -

    Hershey and Kaci

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    1. My dad (and me too) got the wavy hair from our Italian ancestors and my mom got hers from her English ancestors.

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