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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lost in Time, Memories and Other Things



This week ushered in an eclectic collection of activities. One day I saw the foot doctor and went to a luncheon at the senior hall---the band was great---and the next day I attended a class on genealogy research and went to a Red Hat tea. It’s always feast or famine with my social life. I wish I could schedule my day planner out so my activities are spread out more evenly but I can’t, so you’ll have to listen to me complain. I know, you’re thinking I had control of when I made an appointment with the podiatrist; I didn’t have to pencil him in around all those re-occurring events. Originally I had him scheduled for two weeks from now but they called with a cancellation and I took it because it was a no snow, easy driving day and who knows if I’ll be able to say the same in February. 

When I wasn’t out and about I was glued to my computer emerged in researching the military records of an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. Wow, I can’t believe how thorough the records are for the era. He got shot in the head with a Minie Ball, was given 150 acres of homestead land as payment for his service and in 1900 he was still around to collect a $16.00 pension. I also built family trees back to where my mom’s family first set foot in America. On her dad’s side that tree took me back to Dungannon, Ireland (1832) and on her mom’s side my tree goes back to Glastonbury, England, 1581. For my entire life I’ve claimed I was half Italian and half English. Now, I have to pay homage to the one quarter Irish part of my roots. When you have famous people in your English roots—and I have three---I guess it’s natural for families to ignore the rest. Sunday I got so wrapped up in research that I didn’t get dressed or have breakfast until 3:00 in the afternoon! At one point I fed my own name into a genealogy search engine and was surprised to learn I that “lived” six years at an address of a friend. I certainly never claimed that address as my residence. How in the heck did that misinformation get recorded for all of eternity? Unraveling the mysteries genealogy research turns up might seem boring to a lot of people, but others will understand the thrill of digging up the family bones. 

Speaking of misinformation, never get medical advice from your pedicurist. Mine has been nagging me to see a doctor because she was convinced I have circulation problems caused by heart issues. I have some brown spots on my toenails and on top of my feet, near my toes. I thought it was a fungus and, guess what, I was right. For three pedicures in a row, she said it wasn’t a fungus. I finally went to the foot doctor because the toes on one foot have a needles and pins feeling at night and just like I thought, the nerve he killed off four years ago with a series of shots is regenerating and if it starts back up with the hot, stabling pain on the bottom of my foot, he’ll do the injections again. For now, I’ll be the woman painting anti-fungus stuff on my toes twice a day and, the doctor said, it will never go away but I can keep it under control so it doesn’t spread. Oh, goodie. What gets me is the pedicurist charged the same $35 plus tip for a pedicure even though I skipped the polish this last time. I wish I could still reach my toes to do them myself. Oh, to be young again! I shouldn’t admit this, but when I was a teenager I could and did bite my toe nails. Not my fingernails, lord no! They showed. Now, I can barely see my toenails through my tri-folds much less get them up to my mouth even if---yuck!---I even wanted to be that pretzel kid again.

At the senior hall luncheon I won my first door prize ever at one of these events, a tin of shortbread cookies. Just what I need. As I sat there during the entertainment portion I counted up all the women I’ve come to know by name and personality. About two dozen that I enjoy having little chit-chats with when I run into them at the hall or at the Movie and Lunch Club. I was trying to decide if I’d feel cut off from all civilization if I move to the other end of town, leaving behind my senior hall and Red Hat acquaintances---no more shallow (but pleasant) little conversations, no more friendly smiles when I run into one of them out shopping. The answer is 'yes' I would miss the human contact. I decided I need to research the heck out of what’s available down in my target moving area in the way of entertainment. I’ve done some research without finding much. Surely there must be a book club, a Red Hat Chapter, something I can join for interaction and, no, my days of volunteering on a regular basis are over. Thank you very much. Cross that off the list, been there, done that. I want to be selfish if you want to look at it that way.

The more invested I get into condo and house shopping the more the uncertainties come to the surface. When I was coming home from the Red Hat tea I was driving on country roads that I’ve been on many times with my husband before he lost his speech. It was his old stomping grounds and he could tell great stories about half the places along the route. That’s when it hit me that when/if I move closer to my family I’ll also be moving farther away from so many memory making queues in my daily environment. Ohmygod, am I really ready to do that? Am I really ready not to have those warm, fuzzy thoughts pop in my head as I travel around my days, going to and by places where Don and I spent time together? ©   

19 comments:

  1. Only you'll know if you really want to move. That cottage does sound mighty nice.

    I'm glad you got out and about for a bit. It does one good to get out now and then.

    Have a fabulous day Jean. ☺

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    1. Tomorrow is a stay-at-home day and I'll be on snow duty.

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  2. Now that we have been retired a couple of years, my husband and I have been thinking about our next move. He is ready and has been ready. I have been reluctant for a variety of reasons but it only occurred to me the other week that one of the reasons is that my mother spent her last five years here. I have wonderful memories of her here. I walk into shops and think about being there with her, I remember being with her in the library and her friends put a memorial stone in the hospice garden. It only hit me a few weeks ago that I would miss those memories. Recognizing that seemed an important step.
    You bit your toenails? I don't think I was ever that coordinated even in my youth!!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I'm glad you shared that and that someone else knows what I'm talking about. The connection between places and memories is strong. I hope you're right that recognizing this is an important step in...maybe, letting go.

      The toenail thing is crazy isn't it.

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  3. You will know if/when you want to move. At least it worked for me. I know I will sell Maui ... just don't know when yet.

    Toenails and feet are weird and crazy things. I'm doing a few old wives remedies to keep the inevitable at bay ...

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    1. Your decision about Maui is so much harder than mine---it's so beautiful there. But you and I have both come up with the decision to move for the same reason---to be closer to family.

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  4. You pinned the tail on the donkey. I am NOT ready to leave those warm, fuzzy thoughts that pop into my head behind. It's like a virtual hugfest here, and if a real hugfest showed up, then maybe, MABE, I could relocate to make new memories. Here, and now, I spread my arms wide and scoop up precious memories along with making new ones.

    BTW, maybe you were an acrobat in a former life?

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    1. You know what, I'll bet every young person can do the toe-in-the-mouth thing. LOL

      Those warm, fuzzy hugs you get from your house and me from mine come from the same memories that in the first year of widowhood are so hard bear. I'm so glad I was told not to make any life changing decisions in my first year of widowhood because back then I wanted to get out of here when my year's wait time was over. In that year the painful memories turned into comforting memories.

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    2. I never thought of it that way - that our painful memories can turn into our comforting ones. I see that I shifted my focus over time and reinterpreted my history from big take-aways to big gifts and big opportunity now. Pain and bitterness do shrink in a brighter light of gratitude.

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  5. I too am obsessed with genealogy and lose myself when I'm on ancestry.com. I too used to bit my toenails AND could put my feet behind my neck!! (one at a time, not both at the same time.) BTW--if you move a bit further away, you can STILL drive to the memory holding places. I have to drive 20 miles to get to mine, but I get there, at least once a month.

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    1. I knew you'd understand the thrill of getting on ancestry.com com. Do you watch the Monday night genealogy show on PBS?

      I never tried to put my foot behind my head but in those days, I'll bet I could have. LOL

      I know I can still drive to my memory holding places but I'd have to drive past 100,000 people and I doubt I'd do it more than a couple of times a year. The older I get the less I like that drive through town.

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  6. BTW--my doc told me Vicks is the best toe fungus killer. Rub it into your toenails, under the edges and down into the cuticle, put on white sox to sleep in. It takes about 8 months, but it does work. I hope you tell your pedicurist what the doc said!!! :-)

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    1. You'd better believe I will and with glee. She really annoyed me to the point of considering to change shops with her attitude. I don't like to be told what to do like I'm too old to make my own decisions. I would have gone earlier if not for her telling me to do it. (Yes, I can be stubborn.) My doctor told me over the counter Lamisil will work, too. The box will say not for toenails, he said, because the FDA has not given approval for it yet but he recommends it, especially after I get finished with the prescription polish and have it under control. I didn't change pedicurists because I go a place that does EVERYTHING from hot stone massages to hair, make up and waxing. They have a lot of technicians and I can always get a last minute appointment based around the weather forecast in the winter months. Shops with just 2-3 technicians don't have that flexibility around here.

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  7. There are so many mixed feelings about moving. I think I'm ready if I could only find the right place.

    You won shortbread! H loves shortbread.

    Dad had toe fungus. Your doc is right. It never goes away, but you can keep it in control. I'm getting to the point where I will have to go to a pedicurist. Soon. I still manage, but it is not easy.

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    1. I think I got the fungi from the pedicurist. I never had it before going to one... even though my husband had it for years. I got it about two years after he died and I hadn't been to a single place where I could have picked it up...public showers or swimming pools, hospitals, etc. Maybe you can talk H into exchanging the pedicure service on each other.

      The right place will be the key for me, too. I don't want to settle....

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  8. The whole topic of moving is starting to be one I want to avoid. My husband and I talk about downsizing all the time, but we both love our big old home and large wooded property of 33 years and now we are welcoming grandkids into it. We can still manage, but we see the day not that far off when we can't or won't want the hassle of the upkeep. So many memories here -- nearly an entire an adult lifetime of joys celebrated and challenges met. I always wanted to leave of my own free will to a place smaller and just as comfortable and lovely while I'm still independent enough to make my own choice. But I'm not ready yet. And I may end up being one of those old ladies who has to be dragged out -- someone I NEVER wanted to be. It's a big decision.

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    1. I want to downsize while I can still make all my own decisions and not have to dependent on someone. I've seen that too many times where kids think they know better on what an old person values.

      You are still young, so enjoy your property and house. Maybe someday you could just build something smaller on your property and just move next door.

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    2. We have actually thought of that! But the way our city lot, although large and on a wooded ravine, is situated, it would put is right next to the "old" house and I'd be too sad to be in proximity to "strangers" living in our house. Best to make a clean break. Boy, I never thought I'd be wrestling with these decisions. I'm 64 and in pretty good condition, but I've seen that one fall, one accident, one illness out of the blue can change everything in a blink of an eye.....

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    3. I'm Exhibit A in how things change in the blink of an eye. If you ever want to know what that was like for me, look in my right hand column for a link to "How Don's Stroke Changed my Life."

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