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, February 15, 2015

Frozen in Feburary



Valentine’s Day has come and gone and as a widow I thought I had gotten through it triumphantly without picking the scabs off from old wounds. I barely thought about the day in terms of what it used to mean when I had a man in my life. I didn’t cringe at the sight of red or avoid kissy-face movies on TV. I had another bee in my bonnet that kept me fired up and after that went out, I realized that I had spent Valentine’s Day playing Susie Homemaker. And not just any old kind of Susie Homemaker. I spent the afternoon in the kitchen making comfort foods. A roast beef dinner with carrots and potatoes was in my mini crock pot. I baked bread for the second time since my husband died and I made tapioca. Considering the fact that I’ve been living on two protein and fruit shakes and one colorful meal a day for a few months now, I was surprised that I did all this cooking on a whim.

Well, not exactly on a whim. I freeze single serving pieces of protein---salmon, chicken, beef and pork and at any one time I’ll have enough frozen packets to get me through two weeks. One of the last things I do each night before bedtime is to grab something to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. So the roast beef dinner was planned. But I pulled the ingredients and gear out for making bread without any more forethought than it would be a great way to warm up the kitchen. (It’s been brutally cold here and I haven’t even been out to the mailbox since it started.) The tapioca came about because I had some Silk almond milk in the refrigerator that was getting close to its expiration date and I thought making tapioca would be a good way to use it up. Hint: Don’t do this at home. It ends up to be an unnatural greyish tan, not the white stuff my mother used to make on Thursdays and every since has been one of my favorite comfort foods. Roast beef dinners earned that title, too, because it was her company-is-coming meal and when my husband was alive, it was one of my few claims to culinary fame along with baking bread. My yeast was outdated so my bread wasn’t exactly a success yesterday but the fact that I actually made it again was a widowhood accomplishment. When Don was alive I made bread once or twice a week.

Memo to myself: Even when I think I’m handling widowhood just fine, thank you very much, the signs of loss are still under the surface. The comfort foods come out of the cupboard, the sleepless nights creep back in and enjoying the present takes a back seat to worrying about the future and the legacy I’ll leave behind. I suppose those things could also just be a by-product of cabin fever which is common here in the frozen north this deep into the winter. If it’s not the snow keeping us inside, it’s the sub-zero wind chills. It’s the blowing snow and whiteouts on the roads. It’s the lack of human contact that comes with wanting nothing more than to stay warm. This week, even the dog isn’t staying outside any longer than it takes to do his business which is totally out of character for the little bugger. 

“He taught me the real importance of words properly used”---that’s a quote from a TV conversation going about the death of journalist, David Carr and it was said by Anthony Bourdain. The moderator of Reliable Sources---whose name escapes me--- closed the segment with words to the effect that he will carry a piece of David around with him for the rest of his life. And wouldn’t that be a great thing to say to widows at a funeral? “I will carry a piece of your husband with me for the rest of my life.” When you think about that statement, we can all say that about the people who have touched our lives. For good or bad, we are the sum total of the people who have influenced us along the way to becoming the unique people we become.  We gather nuggets from here and there and years later we find ourselves baking bread on a Valentine’s Day because it made your husband happy when he was alive. Sometimes we carry so many pieces of others around that it’s hard to know where we actually start and stop. Woo is me, I’m about to get philosophical and wish I drank beer so I could cry in it.

The temperature right now is six and tonight it’s supposed to go down to seven below. With weather like this it can’t help but remind me of how miserable it was to plow snow when it was this cold. That’s when plows and hoses always seem to break down and I’d be holding a flashlight while Don crawled around in the snow fixing them. It also reminds me of the time my husband had a drunk seagull tucked under his arm while he drove all around the mall, showing his plowers his feathered prize. But that was the topic of another essay, one I can’t find and may have to write again. Some memories are just too good not to document in black and white. ©

25 comments:

  1. Mmmm. Baking bread. Beef stew simmering. The smells are comforting even from afar! 6 degrees? UGH. Memories. DO put them into black and white. Whenever they come up. I love them!

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    1. The house really did smell great! I wish they made a bread making spray scent. LOL Or even pot roast. My pot roast is really good....just like my mom's

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  2. David Carr was such a perceptive writer. I'd devoured his take on Brian Williams February 9th, and was shocked that this young 58 year old man died days later. He will be missed. He and Anthony Bourdain share a history in that each turned their lives around after facing their inner demons and mistakes. I do hope Anthony Bourdain is around a good long while.

    A note from this happy philosopher who doesn't need beer to get her started - We are the sum of our and other's world views. Thank God we are the editors of our lives, too. We get our pick of worldviews. We get to edit the bummers out. I love the way you made Valentine's Day into a gem for you. Your home must have smelled SO enticing - there's nothing like the scent of baking bread.

    For Valentine's day I wore a bright red sweater and treated myself to a fancy breakfast. So happy these days!


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    1. I'm not really found of Anthony Bourdain's but being the wanderer that you are (or inspire to be) I can see why you like his program. We are losing so many people in the media lately! New Brain Williams fabrications keep popping to the surface. I think he's fried his career. And Jon Stewart we can only hope he lands on something we can view each week.

      Love what you said about being the editors of our lives. That we are.

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  3. I really had a hard time with it this year but I pasted my smile on my face and went about my business. Inside though was another story, quite another story. Hugs.

    smiles, bee
    xoxo

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    1. That's too bad, Bee. I never would have guessed that from your blog.

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  4. Sounds like you made the best to the day. Hubby and I aren't into Valentines Day. We're more the love each other everyday kind of folks instead of one day a year. You made a fine dinner, and fresh baked bread rocks.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. The dinner and dessert were good but half the loaf of bread went to the squirrels. LOL

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  5. Our high today was minus 2. I went to student music recitals this afternoon at the local college. I do that often but today I purposely went with the thought that it would be warm and cozy in the theater (and it was). Now I am back home and trying to decide if I should turn the thermostat up two more degrees to 68F (that is with the wood stove burning away nicely).
    Cabin fever means that I keep checking the weather to see if and when there might be a break in this harsh cold. It also means if I can get out, I spend time in libraries. And more concerts!
    Stay warm
    Leze

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    1. You are braver than I am. when it's this cold I don't even like to drive anywhere because it takes so long to warm up when I get back inside. I fed the birds today and I'm still chilled\ to the bone.

      Keep the wood stove burning!

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  6. I thought today was beautiful--all shiny and crisp. I went into town to get some yarn from Michael's sale. I did wear my coat. No boots, hat or gloves however.

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    1. I would open the door to let the dog out and the cold air in my lungs actually hurt. But it was beautiful to look at and today is sunny as well. I'm surprised you even own a coat. LOL

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    2. I used to walk about 1/2 mile from the el platform on the near west side of Chicago to my job at the U of I Medical Center and my lungs burned from the cold. I'm glad I left that freezing climate. Stay warm, everyone!

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  7. Your day of comfort food makes me wish I enjoyed cooking and baking -- your home must have smelled exactly like the one I grew up in since those were two of my mom's favorite things to make -- beef stew and homemade bread. As for David Carr, I have to admit I was not consciously aware of him/his writing and as is so often the case, I'm sorry I wasn't paying attention. I'll have to go back and find his "take" on Brian Williams and other things. So many have spoken so highly of him. We truly are the editors of our lives and our legacy is how we lived. I take comfort in knowing that we may never know the important ways in which we've influenced another just by being ourselves. For the record, I'm so glad to have found your blog and enjoy your writing so much and even talk about you to my family now and then as if we are old friends...."Jean in Michigan says it's frigid cold there today..."

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    1. Trust me, spending the afternoon in the kitchen so out of character for me. If I can stir-fry something or put it in a crock pot, that's my kind of cooking.

      "We may never know the important ways in which we've influenced another just by being ourselves." Wow, isn't that the truth and we should all reminder ourselves of that fact from to time. What are we waiting for, Jimmy Stewart moments like he had in It's a Wonderful Life?

      I am glad I found your blog as well. I think we ride the same wave length on a large body of topics. My only beef is you don't write in it often enough. LOL



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    2. Oh, I hear you about the not writing often enough. I'm not disciplined about writing every day/even when I don't feel like it. Mostly I write when something just bubbles up so strongly that it hits the page in a mostly organic way....flowing from some part of my brain that insists that I write and won't take no for an answer. Guess that only happens sporadically. I want the personal blog to be pleasurable for me, so I've let myself off the writing hook on that one. The yoga blog I have had to "force" myself to write since I'm being paid and "the boss" is watching over my shoulder, so to speak. LOL

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    3. I think I would hate being paid to blog.

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    4. I was pleased that someone wanted to pay me to do what I love. I said I have to "force" myself to write the Yoga blog, but that's not entirely accurate. Sometimes I have to write when I don't feel like it to get my 4 posts a month in (which is not many, I know) and I can't wait around for that organic inspiration to strike.

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    5. Bogging for pay is no different than writing for a column where you get paid or a book that gets published or anything else. What I meant, I guess, is that I want to be free to write about whatever topic is on my mine at the time. Four posts a month is very doable, but I'd be like you and not wait around for organic to happen.

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  8. I love the picture you posted. It's hard to believe that some of the things we weren't crazy about doing once upon a time (plowing snow), leave us with some of our favorite memories.

    I admire your writing style so much--it always evokes a sweet nostalgia. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Mimi, for the kind words! It worries me that some of my memories are fading and I don't want that to happen....so I write.

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  9. David Carr kept going until the very end. He did that interview with Anderson Cooper just a day before he died. Don't we all wish we could be that productive until the end? He will be missed.

    My legacy? I hear a lot of people talk or write about their legacy. Until recently, I never thought about it, or I didn't realize that I thought about it, but I do ... especially when I think of my grandchildren. I want to leave good things to them. I want to add to their lives, and I as they grow into middle age and old age, I want them to find moments when they are comforted by a memory from me. Not only are we a product of how others have influenced us, but others are the products of how we influenced them.

    Pot roast is one of my favorite meals. Yummo!

    Love the pic of you and Don in front of his big-boy toy.

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    1. The director of our senior hall has been looking for someone to teach a class on writing Life Legacy Letters or books to pass on to your kids and grand-kids when you die, but she can't find one that will do it for what we can afford to pay. Apparently there are workbooks you can order to help you. They queue up questions you answer about values and how you came to think the way you do...that sort of thing including advice, etc. If I had grand-kids I'd do it in a New York minute. I think it's an important project and one I wish my grandparents had left me.They all died before I was two so I didn't get to know them..

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    2. That's a great idea. I've thought doing a blog for them. Writing about things that matter to me, about relatives who made an impact, etc. I gave a friend a diary that gave prompts for grandparents. I should have gotten one for myself, but now that you've reminded me, maybe I will do a little search to find something.

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    3. You're such a good writer, the project will be a treasure to your family.

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