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, May 19, 2014

Memorial Day: Year Three

 

Oh, cripe, Memorial Day is coming again! It will be my third since Don died and I'm still not sure how I want to design my personal traditions for marking this sadiversary/holiday. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t do something to acknowledge the M word day. Before Don’s stroke we had a long standing tradition of going to eight or nine grave sites in cemeteries spread out over several counties. He cared about decorating his ancestors’ graves. He decorated graves with his parents long before I came into the picture and after they died, we took over the “route” and I was decorating graves of people I never met. We only did it once after his stroke when I finally put my foot down and in a nice way I told him it was too much to ask of me to push a wheelchair around rural cemeteries with their uneven ground and with the other obstacles life had thrown at us. He understood. At least that’s what I tell myself. It’s not like he had a choice. Whoever controls the car keys controls the schedule and right-side paralyzed people, like he was, usually lose that battle.

My first Memorial Day without Don was all about the condition of his newly placed tombstone and the unseeded ground around it. I cared about the unkempt condition of the stone because it would have bothered him. But I didn’t feel like it was his finally resting place---still don’t. I like to believe that his spirit resides where we threw part of his ashes to the winds near a ghost town along Lake Michigan. He loved the mystique of that place. Or his spirit could by roaming his old family farm where I also left some of his ashes. That first summer that followed my first M word day I Johnny Appleseeded ashes in so many places, I finally had to make myself stop. Still, that first Memorial Day I brought my tools, seed, elbow grease and water to the cemetery. Then I leveled the ground, seeded the soil and cleaned the dirt out of the engraved letters on the stone. And all of that is not something I can carry on, one year after another to set a tradition.The grass is growing and dirt long longer fills the lettering up.

Year two Memorial Day weekend was a long, lonely stretch of time when it seemed like the entire world was off having fun but me. My arm was in a cast and I couldn’t go to the cemetery or anywhere else without asking someone to take me, which I didn’t do. (See what I mean about the car keys?) And that was certainly not something I wish to carry on, one year after another to set a tradition. So Plan 2014 evolved and it includes staying off Facebook so I don’t have to see photos of camping trips, cottages and picnics we used to attend. And I decided Plan 2014 would include a project around the house. Your mission, should you choose to accept it widow lady, is to keep busy. This week I’m going to buy a boat load of perennials and decorate everything that doesn’t get out of my way. Even the dog might get a flower in his collar if he comes looking for affection out on the deck. 

But I’m feeling the pull of the cemetery, too, where they only allow footed urns that the sexton ends up putting on top of the stones and leaving them there for the entire summer. It might make the mowing easy but that’s not going to happen to me, Buster! I’m not covering up Don’s name and vital statistics---those two dates with the all import dash in the middle. I love that dash. I spent forty-two years of my life as part of that dash. God, he was only 28 when we met! It seems like a hundred years ago. I know we can’t go back and wishing I could only wastes the time I have left, but if I could I’d like to think I wouldn’t take so many things for granted. When we have it, we think love and companionship are always going to be a part of our daily existence. Surprise!  

So instead of an urn full of plants to sit on Don’s tombstone I will take my tube of super-doper glue and put another Snoopy themed trinket on the stone. By July 4th it will be gone, the victim of a crime or dried-out glue and a strong wind---I don’t know which and don’t care to know. But if I ever go over there and find a little kid peeling Snoopy off the granite, I’m going to paddle his little butt. I wouldn’t really do that, of course, but his mother is going hear about it. Don was rarely without a Snoopy near-by. He had two Snoopy watches, a half a dozen coffee cups and tee-shirts. You always knew he was in a good mood when Snoopy (or Mickey Mouse) showed up.

Last week while looking for stuff to sell on eBay or in my mall booth I came across his vintage Snoopy music box. It plays Happy Days are Here Again and I never liked it which, of course, makes me feel guilty now for not allowing him to display it in the living room. (Why do we humans argue over such meaningless things like decorating a room? I should have found the compromise and let Snoopy dance in the living room six months out of the year.) It should be easy to let go of a music box I don't like, right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had it in and out of the mall stock box! Cripe, maybe I should super glue it on Don’s tombstone and hope a determined little boy in a grubby romper suit will come along and steal it. If it wasn’t made out of glass I’d do just that. But I can visualize the sexton’s lawn mower throwing a stone and breaking the top, leaving behind just the wind-up base playing Happy Days are Here Again with the winds winding it up from time to time. And wouldn’t that give the people visiting Don’s neighbors in the cemetery something to talk about. "Why, his wife must be happy her husband is dead!" one old widow woman would say and her friend would reply, "I've never seen anything more disgusting in my life!" And if I was in ear-shot I'd say: "Happy Memorial Day to you, too, you judgmental old bitches." ©

9 comments:

  1. I stopped off at the cemetery to check on Fred's stone last week. I don't do much on Memorial Day, so it won't be bothering me. I always figured that Memorial Day was for the vets and since I never had any in my family--we used to call it Decoration Day.

    Was that ghost town Fayette?

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  2. No, Singapore, but sadly it won't be a ghost town for much longer. Someone bought up all the acreage and they are going to build expensive condos and I won't be surprised if it becomes a gated community. Nothing stays the same.

    Memorial Day at the cemeteries around here is more than just for vets. But what I miss the most is the picnics and parties our families used to have. Like I said, nothing stays the same.

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  3. Your Memorial days sound so colorful when Don was around. But, when I write that, it makes it sound like our good days are behind us. That leads to my own pity party. Can't have that; I'm struggling to greet this lovely spring with hope and cheer. I like your idea of putting color everywhere this weekend. I'm doing the same, on a ridiculously large scale. I'm getting 5 cubic yards of garden soil delivered tomorrow. Getting it moved into a new garden is my weekend activity.

    You know, you could bring Snoopy's music box to his tombstone and take a picture of it there, just not leave it. Reminds me of that little roaming gnome that people put in their travel photos. Here's the music box that sprinkles happy dust wherever it goes...

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    1. The idea of taking Snoopy for a photo op at the cemetery made me laugh out loud. Don used to do things like that. I took it to the mall yesterday to put in my booth but when I got back home it was still in the car and I didn't do that on purpose. I have a feeling he's going to haunt me all summer.

      Your garden plans sound like a great summer activity. Gardening mellows people out. I'm doing mostly pots because I can't get down on my hands and knees.

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  4. I like how you and Don chose to spend Memorial Day. Memorial weekend has become a beach weekend for many Americans, and there's nothing horribly wrong with that, but sometimes we forget what it's really about.

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    1. I used to grumble a little bit about doing the 'route' but once we were on the road it was a rather pleasant trip. The cemeteries were so quiet compared to our daily routines and they would always slow us down enough to smell the roses so to speak.

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  5. Hello Levi and Cooper's Mom -

    Mama was reading your post to us and even though visiting cemeteries during Memorial Day made you grumble while you were doing it, Mama thought that visiting the ancestors is a great idea. She agrees with Judy (the first poster) that she always thought that Memorial Day was for the vets. When she was a Girl Scout she used to march in the Memorial Day parade in the town where she grew up.

    The town where she lives does not do a Memorial Day parade but they do a 4th of July parade. Now Mama observes Memorial Day by going to Fort Griswold and climbing the monument there. There is also a museum that has a diarama of how the fort looked on September 6, 1781. The monument itself was not built until 50+ years later.

    Love -

    Hershey and Kaci

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  6. Oops, Mama forgot to mention that she loves Snoopy and Woodstock too!

    XXOOXXOO
    Hershey and Kaci

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  7. Hershey and Kaci,

    It's nice to hear from you two again! Tell your mom "hi" from me and Levi. His life has gotten so exciting this spring with our newest crop of wild rabbits.But he lost his play date friend so he gets bored between rabbit sightings.

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