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

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Agility, Tea Sets and the Power of Good Intentions



The dog is doing his cat impression, sprawled out in a bright ray of sun coming in through the glass dining room door. He looks contented surrounded by his stuffies and with a full belly, a canine smile on his sleepy face. If I could get down on the floor, I’d cuddle up with him. Correction: Getting down on the floor isn’t the problem, getting back up with my two fake knees and screwed-together elbow would be the problem. I’d have to butt-crawl my way into the bathroom and use the safety rail in there to help me get to my feet. It works. I’ve had to do it twice in twelve years when I’ve fallen. If I miss anything about being young, I’d say it would be having the agility to do whatever I want physically and that’s something we rarely appreciate when we have it.

Let’s back up here to the part about missing anything about being young. There are other things about being young that I miss besides agility. Being taken seriously is something I see slipping away as I age. It sneaks up on us in the form of “dear” and “sweetie” coming out of the mouths of people in health care and the service industry. It comes in the form of a postal clerk being shocked when I mentioned that I’m going to text my niece that a package is on the way. “You text!” she said. “Why, yes,” I told her. “It isn’t rocket science.” Sure, I have gray hair and was born before television but why do people assume that means I’m still using a candle stick telephone? Well, I do have one in the bedroom but it’s not connected to a service line. A tech-smart kid could probably turn it into a novelty cell phone, though. I read an article about a kid who turns ancient, manual typewriters into computer keyboards. Very cool! I want one.

Back on topic: I also miss the feeling that the world is a wonderful place that keeps getting better with every decade. When I was young I thought all we had to do to have a successful life is to leave the world a little better than we found it. And try as I may, I can’t see how that is going to be enough in this age of terrorism and political infighting. My head tells me I just have to readjust my time-table and remember that the world actually does get better with each century, however that doesn’t cancel out the growing pains we have to live through. But my heart still wants to see the world through the same rose-colored glasses of my youth. When I was young I wanted the Peace Corp to bring peace in my life time. I wanted the United Nations to unite all nations. I still want projects like Playing for Change to actually change things. In other words my younger self wanted the people of the world to all be singing kumbaya in the streets by the time I die. I’d probably have to live another three hundred years for that to come about. But that wide-eyed, naive view of the power of good intentions, thank goodness, can still be found. I saw it yesterday in a news story about a little girl who started her own lending library for kids in a local hospital. I saw it on the news last month about a little boy who collects blankets for the 793 homeless people in town. (Yes, they actually do an annual census count of the homeless.) Hope for a better world is not dead it just starts at a younger age than it did in my day. These kids were eight and nine. I was twenty when I first thought we could save the world with good intentions.

I bought a tin tea set that comes in a tin box to celebrate the upcoming birth of my niece’s first granddaughter. The tea set is so cute with its old fashioned concept and its updated colors. I know, I’m a couple of years too early for a gift like that but I couldn’t help myself. My niece has a long-ago history of having tea with my mom and I so want to honor those memories by encouraging my niece to carry on the ‘tea party’ tradition with her grandchildren. That may not come to pass---kids are different now days---but I do know my niece will pass on the tradition of encouraging little kids to believe in themselves and playing by the rules of life. She’s a great mother and will be an even greater grandmother. The continuum of life and traditions goes on.

And for me, life going on means I saw my orthopedic doctor this week, a follow-up appointment to the shoulder surgery I had last fall.  I’m still restricted from starting therapy, picking anything up, shoveling snow or bench pressing. Darn, I really wanted to do the latter! We’re letting the nerves calm down that are causing pain just above the elbow---they all feed through the surgical area.  I go back in three weeks. Thankfully, this is the same arm with the screwed-together elbow, so I still have one good limb in case, someday, I throw caution to the winds and get down on the floor to sunbath with the dog. ©

16 comments:

  1. I have the same problem with getting back up. It makes me feel so old. I can barely climb up the ladder to get out of the pool after water aerobics. Thank goodness the snorkel trip tomorrow has stairs!

    I do love the tea set idea!

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    1. Steps are a problem for me, too, if they don't have railing. Snorkeling sounds like fun.

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  2. Unfortunately, in 300 years, if there are still people on this planet, they won't remember the words to Kumbaya. I loved tea parties with my grandma and mother--then I had a little sister and I taught her all about them. So fun. We had such a lovely, innocent life in the 50's. Now 8 and 9 year old girls are wearing lipstick and some talk like sailors! Face it kid--we tend to become invisible as we age. I hate the "Dearie" or "Honey" comments we now hear from people--in fact I once told a physical therapist, "Please don't call me Dearie. I have a name. It's right there on the chart you're holding." We still want to be useful and vibrant--we still want to be. The world doesn't see our capabilities, they only see or imagine our disabilities. I told my daughter Karen, a couple of months ago, "You don't need to take my arm. I am perfectly capable of walking across the street without help." Maybe that's what I love most about my oldest daughter, Pam. She still treats me like I'm fifty!!!

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    1. The twelve year old kids know more about worldly things than I knew when I was twenty. It's very sad that childhood keep getting shorter and shorter. They see too much in the media to stay innocent.

      I like what you told your physical therapist. I need to remember that!

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  3. I'm not as agile as I once was either. Hubby and I laugh at each other. I have enjoyed each year of my life and will continue to do so. I am what I am today and I'm good with that. I'm happier now than I've ever been and it seems to get better with each passing year. Why? I've embraced life and getting old. It's a process that none of us can change, but we can manage it the best we can.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. You've got a great attitude, Sandee. We can't change growing old so we might as well make the most of it.

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  4. I, too, miss the wonderful idealism I had that we could change the world. But reality did enter my world and I am, sadly, no longer an idealist. In fact I am a cynic and am not convinced that we are on a progression toward betterment for mankind. Too much reality! But, on the other hand, there is such beauty in the world and people are capable of incredible feats of talent in arts, music and research. The world is an exciting place but I think that the media and journalist focus on such a small part of the world. I am much more discriminating about where I get my information. And what is so exciting for me in my retirement is listening to music and looking at art in ways that I never did. And reading. I eased myself away from fiction because I became much more interested in reading about the world in details that I never had time for. I have a perspective on life and the world that I never could have had when I was young. It is something that you can only have with age. Yes I miss the agility in my fingers and legs but I embrace the understanding of the world that I didn't have. And I look forward to expanding that understanding as long as I can.
    Regards,
    Leze (from a very snowy corner of Northern NY!)

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    1. I agree that the media focuses too much on the small parts of the world and on low-life society and not enough on what is good in the world. but If we take a long view of civilization, most of the world has left the Castle System behind and slavery, burning "witches" at the stake, Our mentally ill and prisoners are treated better than two hundred years ago. In most of the world children, women and even animals have rights now that didn't exist centuries ago, we help neighboring countries when mass disasters occur like never before. I remember in my late teens my mother was trying to get help for a little neighbor girl who was being abused by her father and she was told it was a "family matter" and no laws against it. I really do believe the world is getting better but we have to take a step back in time to really see the changes. Even the parts of the world (mid east for example) that are still a few centuries behind in the way they treat women won't stay that way for more than another century. Once people taste freedom, they fight for it which we are seeing in our life time. It's not pretty or easy to live through the "growing pains" it all takes to move forward toward a better world but it happens.

      Even my Italian grandfather, an immigrant, had the Klu Klux Klan break into his house to intimidate him several times, and my dad saw Klan hangings in the woods and the Italians were paid less than the whites working in the coal mines in southern Illinois. And we only have to see a couple of episodes of Man Men to be reminded of how woman were treated in the work place not all that long ago, something I personally remember.

      I would like to get into music they way your are, listening with new appreciation. I have a couple of classes picked out at the a near-by college that I want to take. I love what you say in the last few lines about gaining an understanding of the world that can only come from age. How true!

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  5. I am actually in two minds about historical progressions. One of the ways that we tend to measure progress is to judge it against the past and we tend to minimize the achievements of the past in order to showcase our advancements. I don't necessarily, for instance, think that slavery is going to be eradicated any time soon. It seems to be human nature that we exist in hierarchies and some people dominate others. If it isn't Philippine women being sent abroad as sex slaves or Turkish men as an underclass in Germany it will be some culture in some society. Change happens and change helps us to have a broader perspective. It is a good way for us to understand what was and what can be. But I think I view it more as a spiral than a linear progression. We tend to alter our unpleasant traits rather than eliminate them.
    But we are complicated and as unpleasant as we can be, we can produce the most glorious music! I am fortunate that I live near a state university and that state university has a music school and a lot of the professors in that music school give courses to our older adult group. A couple of years ago, the guitar professor gave a six session course on the music of the Bealtles and he taught us to listen to their music in a way that was both surprising and exciting. This past semester I did a course on Bach. I think he is superb. I can be sent into a trance listening to Goldberg Variations.
    Regards,
    Leze !

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    1. That's an interesting concept...to view the world with a spiral, rather than a linear progression. I'll have to think about that.

      I took a class on the Beatles, too. I loved it and now am able to enjoy them and appreciate their contribution to music history in a much different way. I'd like to do a Bach course but it's usually in the winter. Are your classes part of the OLLI program? Osher Lifelong Learning Institute? Mine are and they are great!

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  6. Our courses are affiliated with Elderhostel. But it is run independently (but affiliated with the state university) and because there are 4 universities/colleges in a range of 15 miles, we are fortunate to have a wide range of faculty and retired professors willing to share their knowledge.
    The professor who taught our Beatles course told us that he was so excited to teach to our age group because we understood his references!

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    1. What great resources for senior "enrichment" as they call it around here!

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  7. I used to think that if I could regain anything, it would be my vision. I'd still love to have that, but I have a prioritized list now: Heart first, then lungs, then vision, then energy to do all that I want to do (which would happen anyway if I got my heart and lungs going like they should). Oops! I forgot short-term memory. I'd put that somewhere in there between lungs and vision. I don't know. Maybe I'll revisit the order.

    Thank goodness we have young people to bring their energy to new ideas. We see so much of the bad stuff on the news, we have to look for the good.

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    1. Heart, lungs and vision are really important. Thank goodness I don't have an issue with any of those...yet...or I'd prioritizing again too.

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  8. One of my favorite posts -- so timely because I have been thinking about the same thing lately about how POSSIBLE everything used to feel. I was convinced that "good" would win out in all situations. Now I get a little discouraged and maybe feel a bit naive about that line of reasoning. But I won't give up. I can't despair.

    Also, the aging thing...I heard an audio lecture recently about the fact that those who have a positive attitude about aging live on average 7 years longer than those who dread, fear, and fight it -- even after factoring out all other variables. Seems like how we think about life has a big impact on our quality of life. Like texting, that's not rocket science to figure out, but it can be a challenge sometimes when it just seems easier to long for the good old days of a simpler world, a more vast personal perspective, and a sturdy rotary phone.

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    1. I miss the sound of a rotary phone! I have my smart phone ringer set to sound somewhat like the old fashioned rotaries but that clicking sound when you dial was so cool and you sure don't get that pushing on a screen.

      I don't regret being naive when I was young----well past young, actually. I just wish little kids could hold on to that feeling longer than they do now.

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