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, October 26, 2014

Statistics, De-cluttering Houses and Red Hat Society Parties



I like statistics. For example, this blog with its 340 posts since my husband died in January of 2012, has over 121,300 views (not counting my own) and 2,200 comments (counting my own). The post that’s gotten the most views is Another Letter to my Deceased Husband topping out at 5,660 views and the second most viewed post is The True Meaning of our Dreams coming in with 4,315 views. Bloggers overview page doesn’t show the least viewed post but I wish they did. Not that I’d avoid writing about that topic if I knew what it was, but curiosity is my middle name.

I enjoy the blogging community---writing in it and reading what others are sharing about their lives. We are all so different but very much a like at the same time. Like all bloggers, however, I wish more readers would comment once in a while, but it is what it is. Some people can’t make the comment widget work. Some don’t have the time or feel a need to share their thoughts. Others land on one post or another by a Google search that went in a direction they didn’t intend. You can tell when that happens because they only stay on the post a few seconds. Well, enough of that….

I’ve only done two things the last half of this week that are worth writing about. One of those things being I attended a lecture about de-cluttering your house. I went for inspiration rather than how-to information. Unless you live under a rock or haven’t watched day-time TV in the last five years most of us know the process for de-cluttering our houses. Peter Walsh has made sure of that. I am very proud of myself because earlier this week---before the lecture---I took a three foot high stack of my husband’s specialty magazines to recycling. I’d sold a similar stack of them on eBay at five-for-fifteen-bucks a pop plus shipping but it’s a lot of work and I wanted the space on the library shelf for books I’ve accumulated since his passing. Still, it was hard to do because it was like throwing money away…at least in my head and I kept telling myself those magazine served their purposed when my husband was alive and they didn’t owe me anything. I do like the way my library looks, now, without books stacked on the floor. Decorator magazines often show stacks of books used as end tables but they are not practical to live with. The stacks get tipped over with the vacuum and you always seem to want a book near the bottom of the pile.

The woman who did the lecture is a professional, certified organizer and I wouldn’t let her within a 100 feet of my house because she doesn’t have a sentimental bone in her body. If she’d been around to help Thomas and Abigail Adams move out of the White House after his presidency was over all of the letters that Abigail and my ancestor (Mercy Otis Warren) exchanged would have gone in the trash and I wouldn’t be able to read them today in the form of a women’s history book. The organizer would call 1-800-Got-Junk for everything that isn't nailed down, I think. "No one needs a closet full of clothes and a kitchen full of gadgets. Your childhood doll and mother's locket? Seriously, do you really need those? Let someone else enjoy them." What about me? I thought, I still enjoy things from my distant past!

About the only useful thing I got from the lecture---aside from the fact that the woman threw us many laugh lines and I had a good time---came from a conversation I had with a widow in the parking lot who is 17 years out from her husband’s passing. She said, “Widowhood is a wave” and she explained that widowhood sadness comes in and out of your life like waves on a shore, even as far out as she is. “But,” she went on, “you know from experience that the waves will go back out as quickly as they came in and they will never be as high or as often as those in the beginning.” You could tell she’d given that speech many times but I do love the metaphor.

The other noteworthy thing I did this week was go to a birthday party for my Red Hat Society chapter which is marking its eleventh year. For the party we dress to the hilt. (Isn’t it funny how that expression is still around? No one wears ceremonial swords with hilts anymore.) The community room where the party was held has a three story, twelve room Victorian dollhouse and another woman and I sat behind that house rearranging the furniture and tinkering with the electrical system for over a half hour. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. The others had to drag us out to the tables when it was time to eat.

After the party we took cupcakes and cider punch over to a nursing home where we sponsor an unofficial a Red Hat chapter consisting of 45 ladies and 5 guys. There, we also helped our sister chapter play bingo, giving out door prizes to the winners. I was the ‘O’ girl. Whenever the caller called out an ‘O’ number I walked the aisle with a giant queue card that matched the number called. We five card ladies---B-I-N-G-O---looked like fashion models walking a runway only without the high end fashion or the stone, cold faces. What the heck, if you can’t be in entertainment mode at a nursing home, then this world has gotten too boring and reserved. The residents always thank us profusely for coming so all’s well that ends well even though going there is not one of my favorite Red Hat things to do.  ©

14 comments:

  1. i just LOVE your red hat tales! my group also used to go to a nursing home. we all brought them red hats to wear and let them keep them. they wore them all the time. we'd give hand massages, sit one and one and talk and chat with them, play games, sing songs, always take treats, it was lovely. sadly my group went away. i finally gave all my "garb" to the goodwill. none of it would fit me now anyway except for the hats. once i took a plain red hat, a large one, and hot glued on REAL purple tulips for spring. on the way home in the car they all opened up at once and shot pollen all over! thanks for the wonderful memories this morning honey!

    hugs, bee
    xoxoxoxoxo

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    1. That's funny about the tulips opening in the car.

      We bring red hats over to the nursing home, too, and let them keep them---they are some of the many door prize the ladies get to choose from when play games. Once a year we go over with red visors, flowers and a hot glue gun. They pick out their flowers and we put them on the visors. Everyone at this latest party had a hat or visor and yet the 10 hats we brought for prizes still got snapped up quickly and we must have had 50 things on the cart to choose from. I brought tin boxes with hinged tops big enough to hold envelopes or whatever and they went quick, too.

      I like what your group did, just talking and chatting. At Christmas we do sing-alongs. My chapter is only 25 and not everyone goes to nursing home but we do try to have someone sitting at each table of ten residences.

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  2. We've been de-cluttering around here too. Funny how things just pile up. We too have special things that we wouldn't give away. They hold value to us and that's all that counts. I so agree.

    Sounds like a fun time with the Red Hat gathering. The Bingo sounded like lots of fun too.

    Have a blessed Sunday. ☺

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    1. I'm hoping I can keep to the rule that says, "one thing in and two things out." I bought a Kindle thinking that would help with the library but I still like reading read books instead, so I a combination of both.

      Bingo was fun. It made the time go fast and I got a lot of exercise.

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  3. I think you have a typo in your first paragraph. Didn't Don die in 2012?
    I have moved quite a few times in the last 25 years, so I have decluttered quite a bit, but...I still want my Mother's and Grandmother's stuff around here!!!

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    1. Thank you! It was 2012. No matter how many times I try to proof read, I still miss things and that's an important typo.

      Me, too, on family memorabilia! That organizer would have us all live in a shoe box if she had her way with a change or two of clothing to your names. In one way I can understand her motivation. Her uncle was a hoarder and burned to death when it caught on fire. To get at him they had to cut a hole in the side of the house that went to the bedroom because junk was 6 feet tall with paths going from room to room.

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  4. De-cluttering is a work in progress around here... Never ending.

    I always wish that more readers would comment, too. Once in a while I'll get a comment from someone who says they've been reading for years. For some reason or other that particular post moved them to comment. I always, naively, think they will continue commenting, but they do not. I usually never hear from them again. Blogging can be strange that way.

    Happy anniversary to your Red Hat Society chapter.

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    1. Thank you! I was a founding member but after the first two years had to drop out because I couldn't leave my husband alone more than a hour and then rejoined after he passed away.

      Thanks also for the input on commenting readers. Now that I think about, my experiences are similar. I love that one of the bloggers I follow has mandatory comment day ever so often and she'll pull in 30 some comments! That's simply amazing to me.

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  5. I agree with you about getting into entertainment mode at the nursing home. A group of us from our concert band go into the nursing home every month to play for an hour. Although they all seem to appreciate a bit of Bach or Mozart, it is the familiar songs that they sing along with or clap along. Gradually over the year (this is our second year) we have been playing more familiar songs so that we can get them singing, clapping and smiling. It is hard for some in our group to do it (and we are all older people) but if not us, then who?!
    Regards, Leze

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    1. When I'm at the nursing home I keep thinking if I was one of those residents I'd appreciate the break from the boredom which helps me "silly things up." You can see it in their eyes that a lot of them appreciate us being there. You're right,"if not us, then who?"

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  6. One of the reasons I've fallen behind in my blog reading is that I've been on a major declutter and organize binge! I'm trying to be "bold" and unsentimental about getting rid of stuff. I'm only moderately successful, but better this time than in previous attempts. But, like you, there are certain things of "no value" that I simply won't part with. I do remember, however, trying to help my mom clean out her house for a move and every item I picked up and asked if she wanted had a story attached to it. It wasn't the item she didn't want to let go of, it was the story. These days they say to take a photo of the thing and let the thing go. Maybe…we'll see.

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    1. I've heard the take a picture theory, too, and all I can say about that is be careful to back them up if you store them on your computer. I lost a bunch of photos that way. It would make a lovely memory book to have printed up for an elderly person who you help de-clutter to take a picture, write down the story that goes with it and then have a hard cover made of the results. I want to do that for myself.

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    2. Wow. That's a great idea! I have a china cabinet full of dishes that mostly belonged to my grandmothers on both sides. Neither of my boys,nor my one DIL, seem to have any interest in them. As for me, they are beautiful, but I have to admit I don't really have a sentimental attachment to them other than that my own mother collected them and when I walk by the cabinet I think of her. None are valuable (that I know of…). Maybe a photo shoot, with the notes my mom gave me about who they belonged to as captions, is the answer to my dilemma about what to do when them when I one day clean out that cabinet! Good reminder about the back-up for the computer photo files!

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    3. That actually sounds like a good idea for a book. You could also add a little bit of information about your grandparents and parents as you go along...where they lived, occupations---family history stuff without having to go full out. If you know the pattern name, that would be easy to research to put that in the book, too. If you want to see if they have value you can go to a Replacements, LTD online and put in the pattern name. I have bought a lot of dishes from the 40s that way to complete a set. They also buy sets if they are of any resell value.

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