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

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stephen King and the Widow's Nieces



Writers write. Okay, so I’m sitting here waiting for inspiration and it’s not coming. Does that mean I’m really not a writer? But I already knew that, didn’t I? I can’t plot my way out of a paper bag, my poems don’t rhyme and my diary/blog groans whenever I get near the keyboard. “Oh, no, not you again!” Sorry, Dell, I have something inside that wants to bleed all over your computer screen but it never comes out the way I want it to. I suspect all bloggers feel the same way from time to time. Pease tell me that’s a true statement of fact! Please tell me other bloggers are like me and wear out their back space and delete keys first.

I’m not fond of Stephen King’s horror genre books but he’s a productive (and many would say a brilliant) writer and two of my favorite movies are adaptations of his stories---The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me---which both started out as novellas in a collection of four novellas published together and titled Different Seasons. The following quote from the book is one of my favorites and it fits perfectly to where I’m at in my life:

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear.”

Where I’m at in my life. Where is that exactly? I’m an aging woman with no children and a dead husband and no one to leave a legacy of life-lessons learned. Well, Levi could out live me but his canine brain has taught me more than I’ve taught him. Smile and wiggle all over when humans approach, it makes them happy. Be sweet but persistent and you’ll get more treats. Listen more than you talk, others need to be heard. That last one is an important lesson to learn and maybe instead of trying to write what seems so important in our heads we bloggers should just tell it to a dog. They always seem to have an understanding ear. But what really bothers me is ‘why.’ Why do I feel compelled to write even if I can’t do it the way I want? Is it a sign that I’m preparing for the next stage of life (dare I say death) that I want to sprinkle wisdom around like fairy dust and hope it grows after I’m gone? Is it a sign of grandiose thinking to even believe I have wisdom worth imparting to the world? I still have secrets to tell. Should I tell…or take them to the grave? I know what Stephen King would say about my back story: “The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.” He’s one smart guy. Alien abductions really were pretty common back in the 70s. That last part was a joke although Mr. King would probably say if you have to tell someone “it’s a joke” you need to rewrite it.

Yesterday I packed up the dog and we went on a little road trip, south about an hour and half to where my two nieces live. One is out of state and she invited me to use her cottage while she’s gone---it’s the same cottage where I spent all my summers growing up. My other niece also lives on a lake near-by and I invited myself over for a visit. She is one of those people who is perpetually happy and upbeat. Even when she’s talking about something bad that may have happened she has a way of giving it a humorous spin that gets everyone laughing. Her husband has a great temperament, too. It’s like they’ve ridden that same train so long you can’t tell them apart---a perfect match. My other niece and her husband were both well-liked teachers who have a wide circle of supportive friends and they are another perfect match. I would say I’m very proud of my nieces but I didn’t have a hand in forming the wonderful women they’ve become. So instead I say I am proud to call them family.

I have a real aversion to saying, “I’m proud of you” if I didn’t have a direct hand in helping someone reach benchmarks and accomplish goals. Quirky, I know. It’s a common phrase thrown all over the place. Instead, I try to say things like, “Be proud of yourself! It’s quite an accomplishment to….” I also have an aversion to saying, “I’m sorry for your loss.” The “loss” has a name! “I’m sorry you lost Frank or Nellie.” A loss is personal and only Hallmark should be using generic words at a time like that. And they should be a making card that reads, “Dear Niece, if I had a daughter I would be joyously happy if she had turned out just like you.”  

Look! I’ve got my word quota in for today. I guess Stephen King was right when he said, “Don’t wait for the muse.” In other words, just start writing and let the words take you where you need to go. ©

“It always comes down to just two choices. Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
Stephen King, Different Seasons

8 comments:

  1. I have to write because I have since I was an only child of 10. Now,I have to write to get all the insane stuff out of my mind. Once it is down on "paper", then I can kind of forget about it, of at least quit letting it roll around in my head all night.. I would rather write non-fiction stuff however--so much more fun. I never say, "Sorry for your loss," because someone said that to me at my Mother's funeral and it made me mad and I said, "I didn't lose my Mother. I know exactly where she is!" Now, I just say, "I am so very sorry." I am very jealous of you getting to spend the weekend in a nice cottage by the lake--very jealous!!!

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    1. Up until about 20 years ago I used to try to write fiction but I found my niche writing like I do now, more observation and diary or whatever. I'm the same way about wanting to get stuff out of my head so I can sleep.

      My no longer saying "I'm sorry for your loss" is something I started doing about a year ago. It just sounds so generic but it's a long standing tradition in our society it will be here forever. I'm really not offended by it like some widows I've read about. I just think we can do better.

      I my post some pictures of the cottage. I had a good time and it was just want I needed.

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  2. This post really touched me.

    Levi is a very smart fellow. Maybe I should get a dog.

    I often sit at the computer and wonder what I'm going to write. For heaven's sake, I wrote about organic carrots today.

    I agree with S.K. "The most important things are the hardest to say." Like you, sometimes I can't get it onto the page, and I'm almost never satisfied with it when I do.

    One of the women in my book club went to college with Steven King. She said you could tell even then that he had something unique going on.

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    1. I've got you beat. I blogged about heritage carrots a year ago. LOL

      Oh my gosh, having Stephen King for a classmate sure would be something I would talk about in a book club. How cool is that? I really don't like horror fiction but his characters sure do say some great stuff and the more you read Stephen King quotes the more you realize how smart this guy really is about human nature, etc. I have his book on writing and it's a great read for people who enjoy writing.

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  3. A trip! Somehow that ALWAYS cheers me up even more than I usually am. I think my blog is exactly a diary. And I never kept one before. I tried back when I was young and again in high school ... those little locking books were so cute .... but it never lasted. I have friends who have kept diaries or journals and still have them all! What a hoot that would be!

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    1. I have always kept a diary but thing blogs are better because of the editing factor and, of course, the occasional reader that comes along, like you. For someone who has never done a diary you sure are doing great with your blog! I have all my diaries, going back to 10 year old. I thinking of editing them to a self-published book for just me to enjoy, get rid of all the stupid stuff.

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  4. The compulsion to write is a very interesting one to ponder. I write as a way of processing what is going on in my life and challenging myself to think about things more deeply. For many years, I just kept a private journal. I think my impulse to share that thinking in a blog was inspired by reading the journals of May Sarton -- like so many other people, I found her thoughts about her own life resonated and helped me to understand mine. -Jean

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  5. I was writing in blogs (and diaries) long before I read May Sarton but I do see how she could inspire others to put their internal dialogs down on paper for public consumption. I do think it helps us all understand each other when we can see the inner workings of someone else's thought processes. We're not so very different underneath under it all things we usually use to judge one another.

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