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, February 4, 2015

My Hawaiian “Get-Away”



Monday I shoveled myself out from four foot high snow drifts that were blocking two of my doors and the next day I was at a Hawaiian Luau. Life is a cup of crazy here in frozen Michigan where grass skirts don’t look good with parkas. The teriyaki chicken and fruit kebobs, pulled pork sandwiches, Key Lime pie and frozen Pina coladas were great but the hula dancers had goose bumps the size of egg yolks. They were from the Philippines. Yup, I know. When one of them told me that while we waited in a bathroom line I did the geography in my head, too. But they were good and as I sat watching them dance, the thought crossed my mind that I’d like to knit those dancers some booties. Who goes without shoes in the winter! It was a fund raiser for Alzheimer’s research and the only reason I got to go was because the event had been canceled Monday and rescheduled (nine inches of snow and high winds will do that) but some of the ticket holders couldn’t make it on the rescheduled day and I was on the waiting list. It was all very spur-of-the-moment for me which added to the fun. When I got the call from the ‘waiting list lady’, I told her, “This is just what I need! If I stay at home one more day I’ll probably slit my throat.”

Not that I had been trapped in the house all that long. I went to the grocery store on Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl. Oops, that trip turned out to be the Bermuda Triangle of Shopping. We had the big storm predicted for later that day which always drives people into the stores. Add that to the Super Bowl party shoppers and the third rail of the triangle was the store was giving a 5% discount on everything but beer and wine. They have thirty checkout lanes and every single one was open and had at least ten shoppers lined up behind each cashier. People were taking cell phone photos of the cart jam as proof that they were, in fact, caught in grocery lane hell and wouldn’t be getting home any time soon. It was kind of fun, really. Everyone around me was talking and joking with one another and I was sandwiched in between two cute guys---one with ice cream soup in his cart. If I was into writing romance novels, it would have been a great way to have my leading characters meet. Shy cattle rancher flirts with a cute chick in a checkout lane. And since she had car trouble in the parking lot, he drives her home where they get snowed in for the weekend. Hallmark Movie channel, get right on that story line!

When I got on the other side of the checkout lanes the store manager was standing there for whatever reason. I told him he should have the people who give out sample foods and drinks in the grocery aisles come over by the checkout lanes where the samples could keep all us shoppers from fainting from missing lunch. He laughed. It was a joke after all, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the idea goes up the corporate ladder and two years from now it comes back down and they’ll be doing just that on Bermuda Triangle days. I like the store manager. He was always patient with my husband’s lack of speech when Don would try to engage him in "conversation." You can tell a lot about a person’s character by how they treat the handicapped. One time the guy had a gaggle of top brass following him around the store and that’s where I found Don and his wheelchair, tagging right along. It didn't faze the store manager one little bit.

But talking with the store manager this week got me thinking about that social filter in a person’s brain they say quits working as we age. Maybe it’s more than just a filter. At what point do we lose those facial expressions that telegraphs that what we’re saying is a joke and not a crotchety, old person complaint? Maybe some of us old people are just misunderstood? I look in the mirror, see the saggy tissue around my mouth and I know it makes me look like I’m mad when I’m anything but. E-gads, if I were into wearing bright, red lipstick I’d probably start coloring the corners of my mouth with an upward flare. Good thing I don’t like makeup. If I did, I’d be known as the “clown lady” who always has something to say to the store manager, especially if I added McDonald arches over my eyes because my eyebrows are disappearing. And when did my voice start cracking like I'm a hundred-and-five? I hate the old lady voice! That and caller ID makes it hard to dial up stores and tell them to let Prince Albert out of the can.

Have you ever had to pick out a photo for an obituary? As a widow, of course, I’ve done it and I picked a photo of Don that was taken within two years of his dying. When I read the obituaries I often see listings of old people whose obituary picture was taking in the Dark Ages, back when they were young. I often wonder why it was used. Did the deceased not like their lines and wrinkles? Did the family think he left all his best friends back in his youth? Did the surviving spouse pick a photo from the time frame when they fell in love? Was being in the military the highlight of the deceased’s life thus the outdated uniform and face no one in the current decade would recognize? I don’t know where I’m going with this paragraph but I don’t think I’ll get there anytime soon, so I'm going to step away from the computer and go practice the hula moves I just learned. Aloha! ©

18 comments:

  1. The last luau I attended was in Maui Hawaii and it was very warm and wonderful. I can't imagine those poor people freezing in the snow in those essential outfits. Poor things.

    I've often wondered about the obit pictures too. Why? I'm going with my old sagging face and I hope it sags a lot more before I need a picture for my obit.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Me, too, Sandee but I think we need to tell our next of kin about using our saggy faced pictures. They may have other ideas. LOL

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  2. Full embalming, donate your organs, conservative pastor and high school graduation portrait, right?

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  3. Your guess is as good as any, Cindy. Some people must leave those instructions behind.

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  4. I keep getting recent pictures taken--even if it is a selfie, so that I will have a recent obit photo--although it does cost more for the obit if you include a photo. I read a funny one the other day--at least funny to my warped mind, it stated: "Leroy Whatever, age 96, died unexpectedly January 20th"--died unexpectedly? At age 96?.

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    1. That made me laugh right out loud.

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  5. I found myself feeling bad for those hula dancers and their goose bumps. I haven't reacted to all the snow with cabin fever yet; instead, I feel more like a kid with a snow day, getting to blow off my obligations. Last Tuesday, I had a doctor's appointment (follow-up visit with the dermatologist after the kill-all-the-precancerous-skin-cells cream treatment) cancelled because of our big blizzard. It got rescheduled for tomorrow, and I may not be able to get there tomorrow either.

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    1. I have learned to space my doctors, dentist and other bi-annual and annual appointments in the spring and fall to lessen the cancellations. Hope the cream treatment did its job!

      It's funny but I don't have to go somewhere to break cabin fever. I just have to know I can get out, if I want. It really hasn't been bad this winter.

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  6. I, too, have always wondered about the youthful pictures in obits. In fact many times, I have read the obit simply to see if there is an explanation for the old photo. I do wonder if people value their youth more or if it is simply vanity or if the dead person was not the one who decided to submit that photo.
    Here in Northern NYS it has been snowing all day (again). I decided to take the snowshoes for a walk and once I got into the woods, it really was wonderful. One of the things I really do like about the snowy landscape is all the animal tracks that are obvious...oh, this is where a deer settled down for the night and the rabbit was using this path.and look at the tracks of that chipmunk ...oh wait they lead directly into the basement!!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I do wish someone would come along and explain why they used a youthful photo for an obituary. It's one of those mysteries of life I just can't figure out and I do want to understand.

      I have a pair of snow shoes (antique but usable). I wish I had the guts to try them. I would but I don't have ski poles and I think at my age, I shouldn't do show shoes without poles. I love looking at the animal tracks in my yard. It would be even more fun in the woods.

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  7. I don't use poles with snowshoes. They are like walking with really clunky boots. And I did fall down a few times but with over a foot of snow in the woods, I didn't go very far! And I usually take my cell phone with me...just in case.

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    1. I think if I were to try snowshoes I'd better get some new ones. My antique pair are made of wood, canvas and heavy rope and very heavy. I probably couldn't pick up my feet with them on. LOL A cell phone is a good idea.

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  8. I chose Dad's obit photo several years before he died. It was not too recent, but it looked very much like he looked during the last few of years. He kept his looks until the last year.

    I know what you mean about the saggy face and downward lines. What a mess we become.

    We still haven't had any snow here. I'd like just one good snow before the crocuses start popping.

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    1. When my dad died my brother picked a photo that was around 12 years old. it was a good choice because those who knew him in later years could still recognize him and those who knew him when he was younger could, too. Not an easy thing to do under stress.

      I would gladly box up some snow to send you. Although this winter wasn't/isn't all that bad compared to last.

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  9. You're the only one I know who makes standing in a checkout line a hoot! I'll bet if they handed out free samples of Botox in these checkout lanes we 'old' folks would be cramming our carts in. At least, this woman fantasizes about erasing the burrow between my brows which makes me look perpetually angry.

    Harrumph. I know we're supposed to have earned every single wrinkle, but I'd sure like to 'un' earn them.

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    1. You know what, I know a couple of women my age from the senior hall who've had Botox and I really don't like the mannequin way they look... or like they're an airbrush magazine photo that can't show expressions. My husband used to get Botox in his arm to control stroke related pain and I've had it in my foot to kill of a nerve. Those kinds of things are what Botox was made to do and I love it for that sort of thing.

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  10. Oh Jean - I know I'm way behind on my reading here but you really made me laugh out loud. Living as I do here in Hawaii especially I have to say a luau in the frozen north is entertainment on a level I could not imagine. Lots of aloha to you.

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    1. Hi Stephanie! The luau went over so well they are planning on doing another one next February. The absurdity of did add a lot of fun to the event.

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