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, December 28, 2014

The Widow's Workbook: Another Chapter Ends



For several weeks I’ve had an empty Stetson deodorant stick container sitting next to my computer monitor. It’s one of those things that if it were found there after I died it would drive the people cleaning out the house nuts. “Why keep an empty container like that?” they’d want to know. “And why keep it inside the computer wardrobe?” “What was a man’s deodorant stick even doing in the house?” “Why didn’t we notice how flaky Aunt Jean must have gotten in recent years?” Confession time. It’s a widow’s thing and a little back-story is needed to understand all the whys and wherefores involved.

My husband wore Stetson everything---cologne, deodorant, antiperspirant, after-shave, their whole product line---that part isn’t too hard to figure out. But it was getting increasingly harder to find it in the area stores so one time I bought another brand. Big mistake. You should have seen Don at bath time when I handed it to him and his aphasic, stroke damaged brain couldn’t tell me he didn’t like that brand. His vocabulary at that point in time was around twenty-five words and “don’t buy this crap anymore” wasn’t one of his working phrases, so day after day he’d throw the offending brand at his feet until I figured out what the problem was. A guy wants to smell like he wants to smell.

Rather than chase all over town to the better department stores that probably carried the Stetson and where we’d had to wear our Sunday-go-meeting-clothes just to walk in the doors, I finally started ordering Don’s Stetson online at $9.00 a stick plus shipping. I know, I know that’s a ridiculous price to pay. My husband grew up poor and later in life grew into a bit of a label snob and to make it worse he was a bulk buyer. If he needed paper towel, for example, he’d fill up the back of the Blazer with paper towel without thinking about his limitations on storage space. Formerly poor boys don’t like running out of stuff, it brings back old feelings that are better left in the past. We all have our quirks when we look close enough but his weren’t hard to miss. Recently, I found out that Wal-Mart carries Don’s brand of deodorant but it wouldn’t have mattered since we’ve boycotted that chain of stores since Ring was a pup and he’s been gone so long I don’t even remember where the old Beagle is buried.   

When I found the Stetson deodorant online and showed Don the website, he was desperately trying to tell me to order more than the two I had selected in the shopping cart window. “Okay,” I told him, “I’ll order three.” ‘No!’ was one of his working phrases and we bargained back and forth until I got him down to me ordering six deodorants instead of “ten clock ten”---translation, 10 times 10 or in other words, he wanted me to order 100! “It will all evaporate before you can use it up,” I told him, “if we order any more than six.”

Fast forward to when Don died, one of the first things I did was clean his presence out of the bathroom---tooth brush, comb, brush, disability things he needed in the shower---but when it came to his stash of unused Stetson deodorant...  well, I guess I was too cheap to throw them out and who donates that sort of thing to the Salvation Army? If you’re guessing that I’ve been using them since Don died and the empty container sitting next to the computer is the last of the lot, you’d be right. I figured no one was going to get close enough to my body to detect “the rich, masculine blend of rugged woods and spices” as promised in the Stetson advertisements, so I didn’t mind leaving my cheap brand behind to use up his high-end stuff. Now, near the end of my third year of widowhood, I get to go shopping for my own scented deodorant, something girlie. But I knew I wanted to write about this particular chapter in my “widow’s workbook” thus the container sat by my monitor as a reminder. (Like I’ve said many times in this blog, a widow’s work never seems to end.)

One time I went to an estate sale and every item there had a note attached and I understand the compulsion old people get when they want to do that. I bought a beautifully tailored but tiny pair of wool pants at that sale and in the pocket was a handwritten note that read: “My first pair of long pants, 1902.” I still have those pants and the note is still in the pocket. I’m far enough along in my campaign to stay on the right side of a competency hearing that I was sorely tempted to slap a note on that empty Stetson explaining its presence by my computer. I didn’t, but the thought was in my head. After I post about it, though, it will go in the trash. But let it be known I’m keeping the bittersweet memories that the Stetson deodorant evokes and I’ll feel good about that fact that my heirs won’t end up with a mystery to ponder should I die suddenly. ©

NOTE: If you want to read one of the very first (and, in my opinion, one of the funniest) blogs I ever wrote you can find it here...   The Shower Stall Mystery

13 comments:

  1. What a delightful post. A nice reminder too. I'd want to smell it from time to time. I'm just saying.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I still have a nearly full bottle of Stetson cologne that I unscrew and sniff from time to time. Never fails to bring good memories when I do.

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  2. I lost my husband Oct 2 2012 after several years of being a caregiver while his health deteriorated. I still have his razor on top of the toilet in the bathroom and a whole box of medical supplies that I have not thrown out yet. I have moved on with my life and am doing OK. Still, Christmas is a hard time for me. I am so glad I found your blog so I don't feel like I'm the only one as I don't know any one who is also a widow. Keep up the good work.

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    1. I'm glad you found my blog, too. I'm about eight months ahead of you on the widows' journey so I'm sure we have many common experiences. Although they say we all have our time tables and that's okay. Thanks so much for adding to the "conversation" here......

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    2. What was it about 2012? I'm nearly 10 months ahead of you Joan. We get strength from each other!

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  3. When my sister and I were cleaning out my mother's apartment after she died, my sister found a drawerful of band aids and said "I can't imagine why she had so many band aids". I knew because my mother lived near me and I used to see her almost every day. She had a growth under her nose and she tried to cover it with a bandaid. I bought the cheap ones first and because the growth was in an awkward place, they weren't sticking so I tried a few different brands. My mother didn't throw the unused ones away, and as I am writing this it amuses me that over five years after her death I still have a drawerful of the very same band aids in my bathroom! Regards, Leze

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    1. The Band-aide stash will be me someday. I get them 30 of them a month shipped to me with a shot I have to take daily. I don't use them and have tried to get the company not to send them to me but they won't stop. I hate throwing good things away, even free good things. LOL Thanks for sharing that, Leze.

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  4. When we were on a purging binge, I ran across a case of deodorant. A case! It was not a brand either of us use.

    At Thanksgiving, my aunt told me that my husband smells good. :) He uses the Obsession line. I gave him a gift set of cologne, deodorant and after shave balm for Christmas.

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    1. A whole case! That's something my husband would have admired and lusted after. The only thing I ever bought in a large quantity was baby oil gel with lavender. It was the only thing I could find that relieved my chronic hives...and even better than prescription stuff. I bought a dozen and then my hives went away after months of having them. I gave a bunch away with baby shower gifts, but I still have a lot left.

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  5. The sense of smell is a great reminder. Our daughter kept his bottle of Aramis cologne and when she needs a little sniff ... more power to her. I love all the little ways our boys stay with us!

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    1. It sure is! I think they've even done studies about this very subject.

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  6. Boy, can I relate to this post!!! Nice to know I'm not crazy because I like a little bit of Polo men's cologne, dabbed under the pillow case on my pillow.

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