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, September 21, 2014

Deer Parks, Red Hats and Widow Woes



Saturday’s Red Hat Society walk-about was out to lunch and to a deer park out in the boondocks and this time I volunteered to drive. I leave the maze of confusion downtown---where many of our walk-abouts take place---to the women who spent their working lives down there. Lunch was at a slightly run-down place in the middle of nowhere but their food was good, cheap and the waitress worked her tail off serving the twenty-two of us. I've always said if you ever see me working as a waitress you’ll know I'm down to my last dollar because that job rates lower and harder than cleaning toilets for a living in my Book of Possible Occupations. But that’s coming from a woman who cut her feminist teeth back when getting coffee for your boss first became a bone of contention. I’ve never liked waiting on able-bodied people which is one of the reasons why my inner Martha Steward never showed herself long enough to enjoy hosting dinner parties.

The deer park, our main destination, struck me as a sad place to go in the fall. The lobby of place was filled with taxidermied animals not native to Michigan or even to the U.S.A. in some cases, and there were teenagers going around taking selfies of themselves with the bear, water buffalo, lions and tigers. The deer park is a “working farm” so called because they sell their deer, yak, reindeer, elk, goats, and donkeys. For meat? For trophies? For novelty farm animals? I wanted to know but didn’t ask and no one else did either. I suspect many of the animals end up at “canned hunting” clubs where they shoot nearly tame animals that step out of cages---preselected animals priced by the size and beauty of their heads and racks. To me, that kind of “hunting” should be illegal but too many wealthy people support the industry so there’s not much chance that will ever happen. The deer at this park have the largest antlers I’ve ever seen on Michigan deer. The tour guide said that’s because they live a stress-free life and have good nutrition.To bad that doesn't work for a woman's "rack"...that sure would be cheaper than plastic surgery.

In one pen we saw 20-25 albinos, babies mostly, with the cutest pink noses and blue eyes and we got to hand-feed them. Same with the reindeer herd. The minute our “stage coach” pulled up to the fence, they came running across a long field to munch handfuls of soybeans from those of us willing to get reindeer slobber all over our hands. The guide said if we go on one of the spring tours it’s not unusual to see 8-10 births taking place. We did get to see some girl deer pee and they do it just like dogs. Who knew. All totaled, we probably saw two hundred animals at the farm, playing $8.50 each to take the tour. (Note to Nancy: You could be charging your friends and family to watch the deer you try so hard to keep on the other side of your deer netting.)

I’ve got one more week of being crazy-busy then things will start slowing down for me. When October gets here and I’ll have to get my yard and house ready for the winter but in the meantime, I’ll be spending several days next week helping with the annual fund raiser auction for a small town museum. Mainly I’ll be putting my old floral designer talents to work making baskets up of items stores have donated. (Imagine fruit baskets and you’ll get the idea.) I also have a senior hall luncheon, a metaphors class and an important retiree’s union meeting where they’ll go over our healthcare changes.

Yesterday at lunch a couple of the Red Hatters were talking about the fact that they belong to two and three chapters and are on the go every single day. I don’t see where they get the energy for that. I miss being at home when my social life makes me feel like I’m living in a hotel, just home long enough to sleep and eat. But then I miss seeing people when I’m at home for more three days straight. Maybe I need to fine-tune the activities I’m doing? Maybe I just need an attitude adjustment? There must be people out there who would kill to have the time, money, health and opportunities I have to be as active as I’ve been this summer. I’ve always been a nester at heart. So how does that play into my discontent? Maybe everyone is discontent on some level, wanting what isn’t easily obtained? From the outside looking in, people see me as having fun and living a full life, but underneath the smiles and laughter is a sense of loneliness that I can’t seem to wrangle into submission. I wonder if my Red Hat sisters who belong to multiple chapters aren’t running from the same Ghosts of Widowhood that I am. Are we all missing the in-depth conversations, the trusted sounding board, that only comes with a good marriage/partnership so we’re trying to fill the void with activities?

Okay, I’m going to quit asking myself questions and go sort my dirty clothes into four piles---blacks, whites, reds and jewel colors. At least my laundry is uncomplicated. And trust me, I’m immensely happy my laundry piles don’t include adult diapers and dribble bibs. Life is good as long as I can still say that. ©

Note: The deer photo at the top was taken at the deer park and was typical of the racks all the males had. They also had some deer with only one antler which I learned grow on female deer that have high levels of testosterone. I really loved the way they looked, sporting that lopsided head gear.

16 comments:

  1. I sometimes wonder about people that have to be on the go all the time, but then, I figure it's just a matter of liking that kind of life, while, I prefer the staying home kind of life. I do enjoy my monthly luncheon with my old school friends, but that is quite enough for me. I was an only child, growing up on a farm, with no other kids my age around. I became quite adept at amusing myself and using my imagination for elaborate scenarios--with only my dolls and dog in the mix. I still like the quietness of being alone, where I don't have to listen to chatter or think too fast of a response, with an occasionally visit from a neighbor. I have thought to be more social these last couple of years, but, it is just not a good fit for me. It is more nerve wracking to me than being alone.

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    1. If I lived in a place like you do with neighbors in my peer age group who visit back and forth I don't think I would be on the go as much either. Being like an only child growing up also does feed into your ability to be alone, too, I think.

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  2. I can't imagine life without my husband. I don't want to either. I would be devastated to say the least. Keeping busy is good, but not too busy. I'm with you on that.

    Have a blessed day. :)

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    1. It's a balancing act, that's for sure...knowing where to draw the line on activities. There are so many choices!

      Give your husband an extra hug today.


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  3. I can't believe the rack on that buck, and it has velvet. I have to copy it and send it to my brother. We drove past a deer farm in VT years ago. I hope they do not sell your deer for sport. I can't imagine what kind of person you have to be to shoot an animal in that way. I once saw a show about exotic animals that are bought for that purpose. Terrible.

    I think it's good that you have a lot of activities, but I know what you mean about too much being too much. If you move to a condo that offers amenities and lots of people your age, you will probably reduce your extracurricular activities.

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    1. I've seen shows like that, too, and read articles. I just don't understand that kind of obsession with having bragging rights to killing exotic animals. And this is coming from a woman whose husband was a hunter. You wonder what kind of stories they make up about their "hunt".

      I know you're right about moving to the right condo community. We have a lot of them here the are free standing houses and not much different than regular neighborhoods.

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    2. I wish so much that we had a good selection of 55+ communities, or even ranchers in regular neighborhoods. Almost nothing available.

      My husband was a hunter and my brother and nephew still are hunters. They also fish, and believe me, I've heard some tales.

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    3. With the Baby Boomers coming of the age where they'll start wanting 55+ communities you'd think they'd be going up everywhere, wouldn't you. Not the case around here!

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  4. Good for you for driving! I took 6 others to the Oktoberfest on Friday. Which limited me to two beers for the evening ... which was plenty anyway.

    I especially love living walking distance to social opportunities. At least five coffee shops. 14 restaurants. Library. Two grocery stores. Banks. Post Office. City Parks. I think even if the home was a stand alone, I would still feel pleased with the location. The "city" five blocks away. A scenic riverside park (with lots of events) three blocks the other direction.

    Happy Autumn!

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    1. The only thing I can walk to is a liquor store, pizza place, Dollar Store and hair salon. I'd kill for a Starbucks nearby. You picked wisely.

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  5. Is there this unspoken rule that these outings have only light and breezy conversation? I'd feel lonelier with banter as my only diet. I thrive on nuanced and articulate conversation, especially at this turning point in my life, when all the existential questions came up again. I used to get soul searching conversation at Bible study and 12 step groups, but since sin and addiction isn't my life orientation anymore I have this !?! splendid !?! opportunity to pioneer new frontiers. Not easy...

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    1. Light and breezy conversations for Red Hat walk-abouts is true but for good reasons, I think...we're walking around in public looking at something, could be a museum, art exhibit or deer. With the bi-monthly teas it's hit and miss what the conversations are like. It could be anything but there's a lot of talk about kids and grandchildren and what-have-you-been-doing-lately kinds of things. I do think the conversations in Olli classes are more in tune with my personality and interests. I was a perpetual student until my husband had his stroke. I always had a class to go to every semester.

      I've never done a Bible study class but I know a TON of people who have and it's my understanding you don't have to be a sinner to get something out of them. LOL

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  6. when my life slows down too much i have too much time to think and i don't like that so i run from one thing to the next. sad, i know.

    hugs, bee
    xoxoox

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    1. Whatever works for each of us is what we have to do...no rules. That's what makes each of unique the blog world.

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  7. As a "social introvert" I am always trying to balance a full and active schedule of activities and people and fun, with my absolute NEED to spend time alone and quiet. It's renewing for me to step back from the hustle and bustle -- and if I don't do that every few days I plunge into an overwhelmed depression.

    Since my car accident almost a month ago, I've been without a vehicle and rely on my husband or friends for rides. That has cut down on my going and doing schedule, a welcome respite in some ways, but has also left me feeling a big stranded and isolated. I am seeing how important "walkable communities" are as we age. I would love a neighborhood where I can walk to the library, a grocery store, a few shops and restaurants…and Starbucks! :) What I'm also realizing is how much I enjoy the company and presence of younger people, so I think these 55+ communities that are planned around aging are totally great and I appreciate that they are there, but they also feel a bit too homogeneous.

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    1. I relate better when younger people than those in my peer age group and agree with you about the dangers of living in a 55+ community. Still, I think the trade off of services and walk-ability would be worth it. I'd just find other ways to be around younger people in clubs, classes or volunteer groups, whatever.

      I hate being stuck at home without a car even if I have not plans to go anywhere! Hope you get your car back soon.

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