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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Thankful Widow



I woke up alone in the bedroom. The dog, who usually sleeps on my husband’s side of the bed, had moved to the living room sometime during the night. The traitor. Maybe I snore, maybe I get too restless or talk in my sleep and disturb his slumber. Maybe there’s a bit of board collie in his DNA. In the summer months, though, Levi will move from my bed to his own that sits near-by but it’s underneath a drafty window and he likes to be warm in the winter. I know this because during the day he’ll follow the sun around from window to window as the day progresses so he can nap bathed in sunshine. He could use an animal behaviorist to analyze his perchance for behaving more cat-like than Schnauzer. In addition to being a sun worshiper, he’s independent for a dog and the closest thing he does that could be labeled ‘affection’ is to lean against my leg while I’m at the computer. That lasts about five minutes then he’s off to scare the birds that come to our heated birdbath on the other side of the dining room window. And when he wants to eat, or doesn’t like what I serve him, he finds his voice and won’t let go until I play servant to master. He’s a cat in Schnauzer costume.

Usually, when I wake up alone it doesn’t bother me but when it does…well, it’s like a thermometer taking my widow’s temperature. Yup, today is going to be a long, miss-Don day according to my dogmometer. I can get out---the roads are good except for a few pinch points caused by melting snows that I’ll find by the river---but nothing is on my day planner. So I’ll go to the pet store to buy my cat-masquerading-as-a-dog some food. Then I’ll stop by my elderly sister-in-law’s house because we can make each other laugh and feel good. It’s always like that when I spend time with someone who has known me for decades. There’s no pretending I’m Miss Congeniality with her. She knows all my flaws and none of my secrets and I like it that way. Hint: What you tell her could easily end up on a highway billboard which could be a slight exaggeration but aren’t would-be writers allowed to do that? I, on the other hand, know all of my sister-in-law’s flaws and all of her secrets. She likes to talk and I like to listen.

I call her The Insider and she calls me Mother Superior. Thankfully, she has great respect for all the real Mother Superiors in her very long, Catholic past so I take that nickname as a compliment.  She would gasp with shock, however, if I ever told her I’m an agnostic. I’ve seen that reaction before. It’s like the declaration comes with a pair of ruby-red horns adorning the top of my head. It’s a hard concept for some Christians to accept that another person can be moral and upstanding without the benefit of church dogma stuffed in their head and oozing out their ears. Not that I haven’t been exposed to plenty of church dogma, I have but to me it’s more like a history of morality and values than Holy Scripture. I boil it all down into one guiding principle: Do the right thing in all situations because it’s logical, fair and best for the advancement of society, rather than because you might get punished if you don’t. Oh, brother, here I go again and it isn’t even Sunday. Where is that bushel basket? I need to hide something under it.

Thanksgiving is coming, a time to be thankfully for our blessings. Okay, here it goes---no sermon, just the facts, Ma`am. I am thankful to be alive and living in a country where roadside bombs aren’t a part of the landscape and food, water and shelter are reasonably obtainable for most of us. I am thankfully I’ve lived a life of my own choosing where the only people I’ve lost I lost to natural causes and however hard those losses were at the time, I was (and still am) strong enough to handle them without doing serious harm to my spirit. I am thankful that I won the parent lotto when I was born to my mom and dad and for the Powerball number, I get to live in middle class America. I am thankful that I met my soul mate and we got to spend 42 years together before he had to move on to whatever is on the other side of the Great Crossing. I am thankful that two days after Thanksgiving I can ditch the arm sling and spend the following two weeks doing whatever I can so long as it doesn’t involved lifting, shoveling or getting my arm above my shoulder, then the doctor will appraise the need for physical therapy. And last but not least, I am thankful for the mornings when I wake up and the dog is still sleeping near-by…which gives me an idea. Maybe I can get some rope and hog-tie him down to the bed each night. ©

16 comments:

  1. You have much to be thankful for and so do the rest of us. As for hogtying the dog? I'm not thinking you're going to like that one bit.

    Have a fabulous week. ☺

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    1. No, tying the dog down would make him spend the night bawling me out. LOL

      You have a good week, too.

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  2. We really do have things to be thankful for. Maybe just small things, but often things that are overlooked. I'm happy. I'm healthy. I can afford food AND insurance (although it may come down to one or the other ...) and I have family and friends. It IS the little things!

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    1. I didn't even try to list the small things I have to be thankful for...no one would read a list that long. LOL

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  3. You are very brave. I'm not. Sometimes I wish I was though. My pet rock is a very heavy sleeper!

    smiles, bee
    xxooxxoox

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    1. I have a pet rock, born in the 70s (?) but he won't come out of his box. Not to worry, there are holes in the box so he can breathe.

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  4. I woke in the middle of the night and BOTH cats were gone from the bed. I almost panicked and had to get up and find them--sleeping on both chairs in the living room...they have never done that in nearly 3 years!! I don't find it "gasping" to hear you write you are an Agnostic. An Agnostic is still wondering and hasn't quite gotten to the point where you declare, "THERE IS NO GOD"--so, there's still hope for your eternal soul, LOL. A lot of us "christians" have wonderings and "do you think...really?" in our brains. Oh...not the Catholics. They all seem to know for sure. :-)

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    1. I wonder what made your cats move. Maybe they've done it before and sneak back into your bed closer to morning. LOL I do that, too, check to see where the dog is in the middle of the night. I'm so afraid I'll leave him outside by mistake. Not that he'd let me get away with that. He's very vocal and jumps up against the window when he wants to com in.

      I have a lot of devoted Catholics in my family and in Don's. They really do seem to have the blind faith down pat. None of them live up to their church doctrine but they sure do love church. I must say, though, that I can't help admiring the current Pope.

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  5. Lovely post. And boy am I trying not to sound like the proselytizers I so dislike….but you may well be a Unitarian Universalist, Jean. :) When I found UU 20 years ago (after venturing around Protestantism all my life), I felt like I was "home". No dogmas; no creeds. Each UU church sort of has it's own "culture", but this basically is the glue that binds:
    Unitarian Universalists hold the Principles as strong values and moral teachings. As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”

    1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
    2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
    3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
    4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
    5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
    6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
    7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

    UU's have a Judeo-Christian root -- but Unitarians believed in One God (not the Trinity) and Universalists believed that God was Universal Love and all are Saved. UU's mostly don't talk about any of that anymore, but support every individual's search for truth and meaning, drawing from many wisdom traditions.

    Sorry if anyone thinks I've hijacked this post….I just saw an opening for a little education about a church so many would love if they only knew it existed. Questioning is not only tolerated….it's expected! :)

    Gettin' off the soapbox now. :)

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    1. No, you didn't hijack my post. I love two-way conversations on my blog and I opened the door on this topic. I just checked the internet and we don't have a Unitarian Universalist Church in town but it does sound like a good fit for me. There is nothing in the Seven Principles you've listed that I couldn't accept and I am always intrigued by learning something new about any church.

      We do have a Unitarian Church on the other side of town and from what I've read about them in the past, I had thought I'd be comfortable going to and probably would try it if it was closer.

      Thanks for sharing!

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    2. Do you have a Unitarian church across town or a UNITY church? Unity is more commonly found -- it's Christian, with a bit of a "new age" slant (in my judgement). I know people who go and really like it, but I have not been as comfortable there as with the UUs.

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    3. Oops, yes it is a Unity Church that's across town. BUT just now Google found me another church in town described on its Wikipedia page as, "...the church eventually shed its explicitly Christian identity for a non-creedal spiritual life that closely approximated Unitarian Universalism. Its newest mantra to 'Free the Mind, Grow the Soul and Change the World' summarizes the church's approach to religion from the earlier days to this." That explains a lot about a conversation that took place within my earshot---real, SNL church lady types. They were badmouthing that church, saying they "didn't approve of what went on over there." I didn't ask any questions and I couldn't understand it at the time because they have a lot of interesting programs advertised in the 'what to do' pages of the newspaper.

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  6. I used to read a blog written by a woman who attended a Unitarian Church. She was a scientist. She wrote a lot about climate change. She had young children and eventually stopped blogging, but she seemed to like her "church" very much. I no longer attend church. I was raised Baptist. I know. Southern Baptist. I ran into an old friend who now attends a Methodist Church. She said, "I just can't do Baptist anymore." Ha! The strangest is that I reconnected with an old friend from childhood when I was in my forties, and she was amazed that I no longer attend church. She said, "But you were so religious!"

    I am thankful for many of the same things you are thankful for. We are lucky in many ways. Tell Levi to stay put in your bed. :) Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. I would have never guessed you to have been raised Southern Baptist....you seem too liberal for that. LOL I have known people who were not raised in a church but in adulthood got emerged so deeply it isn't funny and I've known people who, like you, did it the other way around. It's an interesting topic to trace your own spiritual/religious history, what influenced the changes that occurred.

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    2. The rest of my family is not as liberal as I am. My oldest sister went back to church about ten years ago and is now deeply religious, more so than ever before. She can't look at a sunset without reminding everyone in earshot that God made it. I was very close to my other sister. We disagreed on religion and politics, but somehow managed to keep a very good relationship, for which I'm grateful.

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    3. I have people like both of your sisters in my life. Somehow we make it work, don't we.

      Have a great Thanksgiving day, everyone.

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