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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day Trip with my Posse of Post-Menopausal Women

 
Tuesday night I dropped the dog off at the kennel so he wouldn’t have to be alone on Wednesday while I was on a long day trip arranged by the senior hall. Two buses of us (100 people) made five stops not all that far from home but to places I’d never been before. At one stop, half our group toured a restored 1920/30s art deco theater, a labor of love by people in a small town, after it sat empty for a number of years. It was interesting being back stage to see how the curtains, props and screens were raised and lowered. I hadn’t been back stage since my high school days and it brought back a horrible memory of the cruelest prank anyone has ever played on me. I was an understudy for a speaking part in the play that I didn’t memorize and the night of the opening my best friend, who was in the play, called to tell me I had to go on that night because our other friend---the one I understudied---has lost her voice. I, of course, forgave my friend for lying because I was so relieved I didn't have to embarrass myself on stage but, Nancy, I know you will read this so be forewarned that a pay-back prank is still on the way.

Then the people on my bus toured an Italianate style home---a mansion, really---that hadn’t been remodeled or redecorated since 1880 when it was built while the other half of our group headed for the art deco theater. The guy who commissioned the house to be built started out his work life at age 14 as an orphaned farm hand and he went on to become a prosecuting attorney who also owned 1,000 acres on Bois Blanc Island and a steamboat to take his family back and forth to their summer home there. I guess it paid well to put people in jail in Ionia County.

Next we took a steamboat, luncheon cruise near our state capital. The food and jazz band were great and it was the first time I’d been on a steamboat. I especially enjoyed the storytelling skills of the captain/owner of the vessel. He remained me of my husband because you could tell the captain enjoyed repeating his well-honed stories and getting laughs over how his family came to own so many steamboats---4 or 5, I lost count but the one we were on holds 400 people. Going up and down the river was nothing special---no view of the State capital building or fancy estates that I’d hoped for---but as I sat in a deck chair on the top level enjoying the summer sun another woman and I discovered that she and her husband and Don and I had made the exact same trips out west to Colorado and Wyoming during the same months and years, to the same little towns as one another. It’s a small world after all, as they say at Disneyland.

After lunch we toured a “castle” that was built in 1922 as a replica of a Norman Chateau. No one ever lived in the place, it was built as a writing studio for a man who was then the largest selling author in the entire world, James Oliver Curwood. Lo and behold I found one of his books in my library when I got back home. He wrote over 30 books and at least 18 movies were based on his action-adventure novels including one that starred John Wayne. The poor fellow died at age 49 from a spider bite. And I never, ever want to go in another castle. I am not a mountain goat, used to climbing steep stairways in turrets, and the views of the Shiawassee River from the top were less than spectacular. I love saying that word, Shiawassee which means, “River that twists about.”

Our next stop was to a historical village that I found somewhat boring except for the fact that many of my traveling companions knew so little about 1800s gadgets and household items. While I was saying, “Oh, I have one of those!” others were asking, “What was that used for?” I was rather shocked at that and about half way through the ten buildings I quit saying, “I have one of those” for fear they’d think I live in a hoarder’s house. Which I don’t, in case you're wondering. I guess hanging around antique shops since I was 18 years old is something I took for granted. I thought the whole world, for example, recognizes a salt dish when they see one.

On this trip I actually felt that I am finally starting to fit in with the crowd, having found a click of woman who seem to want to include me in with their inner circle now. This change has been building slowly over the past year of seeing each other on trips, at the movies and other senior hall events. I even got a phone call, this time, from one of the ladies ahead of time wanting to know if I’d like to be her seatmate on the bus. It felt nice to finally feel like I’m no longer an outsider. These ladies don’t feel like good friends yet, who know me well enough to pull off a good prank, but progress is progress and who knows what the future will bring.  ©

 

10 comments:

  1. Don't you DARE say a word against Mr. Curwood!! Owosso wouldn't exist without him! Only kidding. Owosso was our BIG town in Shiawassee County--it had a nice hospital, where all my kiddlets were born and really nice stores downtown where my Mother shopped for her gorgeous clothes. Glad you had a relatively good time--you sure covered a lot of space.

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    1. Wouldn't think of it! I was impressed at Mr. Curwood's success and wonder what more he would have accomplished if he had lived another 20-30 years. I don't know when you was there last but by the castle they have moved in a log cabin and next to that is an art gallery in a classy old restored house. The whole area is a nice, little park now.

      We covered too much! We were all dragging when we got back to town.

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    2. It's working, it's working!!! Now YOU get to initiate a call for a seatmate!!

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    3. You're going to have to hold my hand while I do that one. I'm not as outgoing as you are, which I greatly admire by the way.

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  2. Wow, I don't know the ages or abilities of your group members, but that was a lot to cover in one day. I wouldn't even have considered that much with my high school students. Of course, they always complained of being tired out on the field trips.

    Pranks? I hope you are only joking.

    And, yes, you should now return the phone call of your seat mate and chat about the lovely trip and thank her for being your seat mate. Being outgoing just means you talk with people. Most people will easily engage with you. If they don't, move on to the next person.

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    1. I wasn't joking about my life-long friend pulling that prank on me. Scariest, most panicked time of my life! But I was joking about pulling one back.

      Everyone on the senior hall trips is at least 60 but there are people in their 80s as well as their 70s, like me. At some stops in the afternoon there are always a few (very few) who will stay on the bus instead of going inside whatever we're touring. This was considered one of the medium length day trips, at 11 1/2 hours. I don't go on any longer than 12 anymore. They do a trip a month spring through fall including one ten day overseas trip a year.

      Thanks for the advice on the follow up call and being outgoing, I never thought about it like that!

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  3. I'm so happy you're feeling included with a bunch of nice women. You obviously have the skills to break the ice, and I imagine you're a pleasure to have as a seat mate. I'm wondering. Is it nice to be chauffeured around on trips to places you're interested in, or do you sort of put up with this because you're meeting neat women? I guess this is really a question about autonomy - I have gone on tours, and end up being the rascal that steps out of line. LOL

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    1. I don't mind the bus experience at all. It's easier than driving and searching for parking and it's a good way do things I wouldn't do my myself. Since our schedule and destinations are decided by the director of the senior hall, I can decide if I want to go or pass up a trip. If you're with a car load of ladies there is always one or two who like to dominate the group and makes all the decisions.

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  4. I know what you mean about fitting in with the group. It takes time, but it sounds like you're making progress. I enjoy my book club, but I'm finding that it may not be the best vehicle for forming good-buddy relationships. They all know each other. I'm the only "outsider" and we only meet once a month. Not enough exposure. I do enjoy observing the dynamics of the group as much - if not more - as the book we read.

    I love the idea of lunch on a steamboat with a little storytelling on the side.

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    1. I found the same thing with volunteering at the museum and building friends. The people there are nice but they've all known each other 30 to 50 years. So I backed off from volunteering on a regular basis and will just work special projects like their yearly auction. That makes more time for the senior hall where it looks more promising to form good friends.

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