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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Christmas Roller Coaster



I felt like I was on a roller coaster and I hadn’t even left the house in more days than an elf could count on her jingle bells. I don’t know exactly how many that is, but it’s a lot. For days leading up to Christmas I had a feeling behind my eyes like I’d been crying hard and the exhaustion that comes after a soul-reaching cry like that had settled into my bones. Only I hadn’t been crying and I didn’t even think I was sad enough to squeeze out a tear if I tried. “Queue the cameras, the widow’s going to cry. Cut! Get her an onion!”  What the heck was wrong with me? I thought maybe the mini sugar binge I was on could have caused it or maybe the bag of vinegar and sea salt kettle chips I ate and shouldn’t have mixed with my high blood pressure made me feel the way I did. I haven’t had those sorts of things in my diet for months. Maybe being naughty instead of nice had caught up with me? Then I obsessed thinking I was dying. Nope, my pulse was still strong and the dog wasn’t checking my breath the way he does sometimes when he’s wondering if it’s time to start digging my grave. (Hint: Never shut your eyes around a Schnauzer.) Having ruled dying out of the equation, I thought maybe I was going through the holiday blues and was getting too old to recognize the symptoms. In the end decided I needed to take an aspirin and call the doctor in the morning. Maybe a blood test was in order.

Queue the e-mail from my niece offering to pick me up for the Christmas Eve party at her sister’s house out in the boondocks. Mind you Google says this takes her out of her way by 68 miles round trip (she says less, who you gotta believe?) and I stressed over the decision to let her do it, or not. We had three to five inches of wet, heavy snow predicted and I had already sent a text to my youngest niece saying that my old eyes and the predicted weather was going to keep me at home. God, I felt bad about that! Family who don’t always get to attend her annual party because of work or living out of state, were going to be there this year, not to mention we have two new babies in the family to maul and plaster with affection. Not to mention that I also had the photo essay books of my mom and dad back from the printer and ready to give out. The roller coaster chucked its way up to the top by the time the noon weather forecast was over. The storm had been downgraded and I decided to accept my niece’s more than kind offer.

For the rest of the day and into the night the roller coaster got stuck at the top. How cool is that? After the noon weather report was over I threw together my marinated four bean salad and hoped it could do its job in six hours instead of the required overnight marinate. I had some Tuscan, herb infused olive oil (sun-dried tomatoes and garlic) and Sicilian Lemon infused balsamic vinegar that both cost a fortunate and I figured they would more than make up for the lack of hours. I left the half a cup of red onions out of my recipe just in case six hours wasn’t enough time to soak the rawness out of them. Maybe if I didn’t tell anyone they wouldn’t notice. It was a recipe my mother always made for parties when I was growing up and I improved with the foodie quality oil and vinegar. I hadn’t made it in a long time but a few people at the party remembered it from years ago. My niece’s mother-in-law even asked me for the recipe. I doubt anyone has ever asking ME, the inept-cook, for a recipe before.

The down-graded one to three inches of snow never materialized. Still, it was rainy and not the best driving conditions but I was happy the little kids all got cheated out of their promised white Christmas. Safe driving conditions always trumps ‘pretty’ in my book. (Screw Santa and his sleigh. He could use wheels like the rest of us.) The party was all the sweeter because I hadn’t planned on going and it was the first time since Don’s stroke in 2000 that I had a designated driver so I was able to drink all the red wine I wanted. For my brother and me, red wine is a family tradition that goes all the way back to when we were nine-ten years old and my Italian dad would give us each a shot glass full on special occasions. I had three glasses of wine on Christmas Eve, ate way too many sweets but I had the best time.

At some point in the evening the entire group, roughly 21 of us---young and old alike---divided into two teams pitting the men against the women and we played a fast-paced game. It involved shouting out the answers to clues given and it brought lots of laughter when people called out the wrong answers, either accidentally or on purpose. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed my roller coaster riding Christmas this year even if the dog did leave me a “gift” in the middle of the floor that I nearly stepped in when the ride came to an end. Jeez, Jean, you’ve got to let your four-legged kid outside once in a while, I told myself on Christmas morning. "Oops. Sorry Levi." ©

14 comments:

  1. I'm glad you had such a great time. That rocks...well except for Levi. Poor thing.

    ★ Merry ★* 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
    •。★ Christmas 。* 。
    ° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
    ˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
    ˚ ˛ •˛• ˚| 田田 |門| ˚And a Happy New Year
    * Joy to all! ♫•*¨* Peace on Earth ♪♫•*¨*

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  2. It does rock, doesn't it! I love your "icon" or whatever you did to achieve the above.

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  3. I count you among the greatest gifts in my life of this past year….your blog brings me connection and joy. And laughter. I'm so glad you had a fab time at the party! Merry Christmas!

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    1. Connection and joy are such a wonderful gifts that we all get from fellow blogs. Thank you so much for being one of my gifts as well. Have a good Christmas but don't over due!

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  4. oh i am SO glad you went! i always feel better when i get out. always! good for you!

    smiles, bee
    xoxo

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    1. Me too and every time I go down to see my family I keep thinking I need to move closer to their hub. I just wish there was a viable senior citizen hall at the other end of town because family can't fill up all my time.

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  5. Sweet! I am glad you went too! And how pleasant to have someone else do the driving. I am so much more comfortable when someone younger with better eyes is in the driver's seat, especially in winter conditions. We, too, in Northern NYS did not have any snow. In fact, all the snow we had got washed away with rain and above freezing temperatures. Good Holiday wishes to you and thanks for your blog-it really is worthwhile.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Good holiday wishes to you, too! You give me reason to care about the weather in your part of the world as well as my own and other friends from the blogging community. It's been strange winter weather wise so far this year.

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  6. I love those evenings that bring out the goofballs in all of us. My family had an evening like that, too, last night. This morning though, my heavy mood matched yours before the invitation. I told my sister - it's my tenth Christmas without my hubby - and burst into tears. Got hugs, got through it. Was able to rejoin the big, noisy family Christmas. I'd like to believe that, someday, getting through the holidays can be more than just coming out the other side intact. Intact feels pretty good...

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    1. I used to think that was possible, what you said in the last line, but now I'm not so sure. Oh, I know the pain, tears and regrets soften over time but going through a holiday where we don't remember the bitter-sweetness and closeness of having a soul mate in our lives, I don't think that will ever happen. What we can do, though, is work on holding on to the sweet, and letting go of the bitter.

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  7. Thank goodness for sweet nieces who will make the effort and for family fun. I'm so glad you went, and that your weather wasn't bad enough to keep you home. I can see that's a real problem in your neck of the woods. Levi... what are you thinking? I don't think he wants you to have too much fun. Nothing like getting back to reality. :) So glad you had a good time.

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    1. I still can't believe my niece (and her husband) would go that far out of the way to that for me.

      Levi's a good boy but he hates rain and I didn't make him stay out in it long enough after I came home. It was me that screwed up, I should have remembered he hadn't gone yet that day. But, yes, that's back to reality. :)

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  8. I'm glad that you accepted your niece's offer, got out for some family socializing, and had a great time! I used to hate accepting offers of help from people until a therapist once asked me how I felt when other people asked me for help. "It makes me feel needed and loved," I answered. "So why do you want to deprive other people of the chance to feel that way?" Oh.... The party game sounds like a lot of fun. Happy holidays! -Jean

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    1. That is such a simple yet profound way to look at accepting help as we age. I need to write that out 100 times so I'll remember it the next time. I've always been so independent and it's hard to let go of that mindset. On the way down to the party, I was telling my niece about house I almost bought before Don's stroke that is very near where her daughter just bought a house. It's much closer to my core family and I love the area. And my niece says, "You know, they still have houses for sale on the lake. You could still do it." Every since then, I've been giving it a LOT of thought.

      Thanks for sharing.....

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