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
Thursday, July 3, 2014
My 'When Harry Met Sally' Story
My 'When Harry Met Sally' Story
If my life in the late 1960s had its own theme song it would have been ALFIE. When I close my eyes I can almost see a younger version of myself running around with my arms spread wide open, long flowing skirts giving me grace, and with a voice coming out of me that sounds like Dionne Warwick singing: "What's it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?" I see myself leaping and strutting around a city park belting out line after line. "Are we meant to take more than we give or are we meant to be kind?" I see the orchestra of Burt Bacharach running along behind me, trying to keep up with the pace that I set while still playing their instruments. Those piano movers are really working up a sweat. "As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie, I know there's something much more, something even non-believers can believe in. I believe in love, Alfie."
That's the Walt Disney version. During my "what's-it-all-about" era I was actually a dating machine, searching for love and the meaning of life in all the wrong places. It's funny how the passing of time can make you forget a thing like that about yourself. I've been looking at old diaries today and when read 1969 I was actually shocked to see that so many guys' names had filled up page after page. Ten of them! All those guys were trading places back and forth as if they were race horses going around and around on a track. First one guy would be my favorite, then another. Break ups and makes ups and near-fist fights. One guy even turned out to be an undercover cop working on a case involving a shirt-tail friend of mine. As I read those diary entries I couldn't believe I was reading about my own life. I wanted to break out the popcorn and get a score card.
My power dating era was winding down by March of 1970 when Don entered the pages of my diaries. We met at a bowling alley that had an adjacent pub with live music and dancing. It was the local hunting ground for singles. I was on a lady's league on Friday nights and when Don and I met it was far from love at first sight---at least not for me. Oh, Don was good looking enough to curl a girl's toes and lord knows conversation never lagged when he was around. But I met him along with a friend of his who looked like he shared the same gene pool as Tom Jones. He even had the same weighty voice in an era when Tom Jones was red hot on the charts. Of course I wanted the other guy, not Don.
For the next six months I dated them of both frequently, on different nights of course, but the three of us often found ourselves hanging out together on Fridays after bowling. All that time Don kept telling me that his friend was a one-night stand and if I went out him again, he (Don) would stop asking me out. The friend did turn out to be an irresponsible loser, but Don turned out to be a liar because in spite the fact that I kept dating his friend, he hung right in there date for date. I couldn't quite figure these two guys out. I was guessing they had some kind of contest or bet going, so I didn't trust either one of them. Finally six months out, the log jam broke when Mr. T.J.-Look-a-Like started dating a woman he later married. It was in that same time frame when Don first declared that he loved me and wanted us to get married. It took us thirty-one years and a severe stroke for us to follow up on that idea. And in those thirty-one years we spent more time together than most married people do.
It's weird how your memory can play tricks on you. Before I cracked open my old diaries today I had already written the story of how Don and I met. I couldn't believe how far off from the truth that first draft was. I had to scrap it and start all over. I'd completely forgotten about my marathon dating in 1969 and about the triangle dating thing we had going for the six months after Don, his friend and I all met. I had given that whole period the Walt Disney, this-is-the-version-you'd-tell-your-grandkids spin.
Off and on all afternoon I was reading to Don from the pages of my diaries and I told him that I wish I could figure out how I could hold on to these books until twenty minutes before I die when I'd like to burn them. Every ten years or so I get them out and give myself a good laugh. It's also cathartic to watch yourself grow in spirit and wisdom over the years as you turn those yellowed pages. Don and I remembered another afternoon years ago when we sat reading and laughing over my old diaries. We stopped laughing, though, when we came across an entry about a chance meeting on cruise night at a local drive-in restaurant, circa 1958. We're 99% sure it was us and our two best friends I had written about who passed jokes back and forth while sitting on the hoods of our cars. (How many other Ron, Don, Nancy and Jean combinations could there have been in my hometown back then?) So, I guess you could say that we've actually got two "When Harry Met Sally" stories to tell. ©