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 14, 2014

Two Little Words and a Cranky Widow



I was picking up lunch at Wendy’s in between Zumba Class and getting my new hubcap---that really isn’t a hubcap---installed on my car when I got annoyed at myself for thanking the guy at the first drive-up window for giving me my change. Am I the only one who still remembers when service people thanked you for your business? I hate it when I feel compelled to “close the deal” with the obligatory 'thank you' when people at takeout windows fail to say it. That's the way I was taught to do it in my teens when I was on the other side of the retail counter but kids, today, seem to be trained to believe customers should thank them for taking time away from their flirting with co-workers to wait on us. At the second Wendy’s window, as a girl handed me a junior bacon cheeseburger she said, "Have a nice day!” Oh...why didn't I think of that? I’m on the way to a funeral but I’ll try to have a nice day. My house is going into foreclosure but I’ll try to have a nice day. A friend is getting his leg amputated today but I’ll try to have a fricking nice day! Okay, I’m going to pretend I didn’t write this paragraph because I’m starting to sound like a crotchety old woman who beats puppies with her cane, begins every other sentence with “in MY day," and stir-fries kittens for dinner.

I didn’t go to a funeral that day and my mortgage was paid off two years ago but the son-in-law of my best friend was getting his leg amputated while I was at Wendy's. The patient, a young guy with twin toddlers and a daughter a few years older, has been cancer free for four years but the surgery to replace his thigh bone with a cadaver bone never healed. His only hope for a normal life, not dictated by pain management was to amputate. As sad as his plight has been, it’s also been a joy to see my friend’s amazing and supportive core family, extended family and church family all pulling together to support his daughter and son-in-law through it all. There are, of course, other families around like his but we don’t always appreciate their specialness or say out loud, “Thank you! Thank you for living your faith and values even when times are hard. Thank you for passing those values on to everyone in your sphere of influence. Thank you for being the best of the best role models." My husband and I always thought of our friend as the son we wished we’d had and it’s been a long time since I’ve told him that. Note to self: Do it soon! I’m not getting any younger. 

I don’t know, maybe hearing a string of insincere thank-yous at takeout windows dilutes their meaning when it comes to expressing heart-felt feelings so deep they make you teary-eyed just thinking about them....but I doubt it. How else do we express appreciation for everything from a stranger picking up something you dropped to a friend being the awesome person that he is? An online dictionary says ‘thank you’ is used “for telling someone that you are grateful for something said or done” but shouldn’t there be degrees of ‘thank you’---little thank-yous for takeout windows and huge THANK-YOUS when someone makes a real difference in their world?  Ya, I know, that's what adjectives are for, Jean! I can say, "A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thank you, T.C.!"  Oops, I don’t think I used that word correctly but I have a strict rule that I only look up one word per blog entry so hit me with your best admonishment if supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is not a proper adjective.

The Dalia Lama is fond of saying, “The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” I believe that. I believe we need to acknowledge goodness when we see it. I believe goodness is all around us, even in our darkest hours. And I believe few of us say the big thank yous as often as we should. They're such little words but if you believe the Dalia Lama they help the seeds of humanity grow. They make us feel appreciated, that's for sure, and they're probably needed more in the world today than ever before. So here I am writing this sugar shower to the son I wish I had to thank him for the things mentioned above and for having such a goofy sense of humor that he lights up every room he enters and for being the one and only person who would unabashedly cry with me after Don died.

Thank you to everyone still reading this essay. You may be interested in knowing I've made a promise not rag on myself the next time I say "thank you" at a takeout window. I'll just practice saying it small, no adjective needed. You may also be interested in knowing I have no funny or wise words to end this 'Sunday Sermon' but I do want to assure cats lovers that I could never, ever get hungry enough to stir-fry kittens. ©

19 comments:

  1. Ha! Loved this! I'm grateful that the passage of years hasn't dimmed your humor in writing your observations.
    Thank you! for making me smile this morning.
    Pam

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    1. Pam! Thank you. We both know how much finding humor helps get you through some pretty hard times, don't we. Hope all is going well for you these days.

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  2. well thank you for writing it! and i mean i really thank you for writing it!

    smiles, bee
    xoxoxo

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    1. And thank you for thanking me. LOL (I think this is going to be the theme for today.)

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  3. Well, I thank you too because I've wondered about the 'thank you' thing more than once. Yes indeed.

    Have a blessed Sunday. ☺

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  4. Thanks! Happy Sunday to you Sandee!

    If anyone wants to put a smile on their face, check out Sandee's Comedy Plus blog.

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  5. Thanks for writing your blog. I am so thankful that I found it, because, it has helped me over the last couple of years. BTW--I too am a "Thank You, or Thanks" kind of person--even when I am done with a phone call, at a drive-through window, at the check-out lane, "Thank you for double bagging my Pepsi," to the Pharmacy people, "Thank you everyone." to my neighbor's, "Thank you for coming over." I even hugged my orthopedic surgeon and thanked him for giving me a new hip! It's not superficial, because, I really mean it.

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    1. I'm taking a page out of your book and try to be more spontaneous and sincere when I thank people through out my days. I do it but I'm too often on automatic. I have gotten more aggressive about hugging people who mean something to me, though....aggressive isn't quite the right word here, but you know what I mean.

      I'm thankful I found your blog, too, and I don't even remember how that that came about. I have learned a lot from you. Thanks!


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  6. From the looks of the comment section, I sound rename this blog "Thankful Sunday." LOL

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  7. I appreciate any kind of thank you. Seriously! I cannot hear that enough. My pet peeve is when I thank a service person (who should be thanking me), more often than not they say "no problem". Now THAT I hate. Of course I'm not a problem ... indirectly I pay your salary! How about "you're welcome" or "my pleasure" or even "part of our service to our customers" Now look at who's cranky! ME! I'm still under the weather ... hope this eases up soon ....

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    1. People say, "No Problem" around here after you thank a service person who should be thanking you. I honestly don't understand why someone long around at business seminars started pushing for the "have a nice day" thing and calling customers "guests." I'm going to sound cranky again when I say it still rubs me the wrong way when retailers refer to shoppers as guests. It sets the wrong tone for the employees.

      Hope you feel better soon and thanks for stopping by!

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  8. Jean :
    after my stroke while reading 5 love language book I have realized I feel loved when I am verbally appreciated,that is my love language and thats what I use, ofcourse hubby's love language is act of service which I realized after my stroke and I have seen every one feels good around you & help you more if you appreciate them & thank them. No wonder I always got along very well with all my doctors & therapists, they always helped us to best of their ability.

    Asha

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    1. Don was the same way with his doctors and therapists (me too but his thanks was what was important at the time). Even though he couldn't talk he'd grab someone's hand and give them the most intense eye contract and they knew he was trying to express his appreciation to them. I'm sure, like me, you'd seen a lot of people in stroke rehab places who gave their therapists a really hard time because they resented being there. People are all so different in how they handle disabilities.

      I had never heard of the book "5 love Languages" until right now and, of course, I looked it up on Amazon after reading your reply here. Looks very interesting!

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  9. This was beautiful, Jean. Just the other day, as we were leaving a store, I said, "The cashier was so nice. I always feel better when they're nice." H said, "They do, too." And it's true. Things certainly were not perfect, but there was a time, not so long ago, when we were more civil to each other. We need more kindness.

    I'm sorry to hear about your friend's Son-in-law, but I know what you mean about he family rallying and giving support. It's a beautiful thing to see. I hope he does well with the surgery.

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    1. We sure do need more kindness and less people walking around with their noses buried in their phones. People just don't interact with each other they way they used to while waiting in lines, etc.

      I hope my friend's son-in-law does well, too. There is every reason to believe he will. They have such a beautiful, devoted family.

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  10. I love the idea of the Dalia Lama, because he's very much like a beautiful dahlia. So thanks for making me smile - even if it was accidental!

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    1. I love the Dalia Lama. He's such a wise and approachable person. Thanks for the comment, Chartreuse.

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  11. I appreciate the tension between wanting a civil world in which people say "thank you" as a genuine expression of appreciation, but not as a meaningless part of a formalized script. Today, when I arrived at the self-checkout at the supermarket, there was one station open, but I couldn't get to it because a woman with a toddler was using a ginormous faux-racing-car shopping cart that was blocking the aisle. I was starting to feel a bit cranky about not being able to reach the open register when the older son (about 13) of the woman with the toddler and the gigantic cart looked up, saw my plight, and immediately moved the cart over so that I could get by. I think that being aware of how your actions affect others and taking responsibility for those effects are at the heart of civility, so I rewarded that boy with my biggest smile and my most sincere thanks. -Jean

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    1. Love your story.

      I think it's that "formalized script" that doesn't allow employees to use their head when waiting on people that gets me the most. I remember once stopping at a store for a necessity I couldn't put off the day after my husband died and the clerk said, "How is your day going so far?" and I answered, "Not so good. My husband just died." She looked at me with a blank look on her face and---I kid you not---she said, "Oh? Well have a nice day." Every since then the phrase has been a pet peeve of mine because there are so many times when it's inappropriate. If clerks are going to ask how your day is going then they should be allowed to reply with something that fits the situation instead of a script they are programed to give..

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