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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The 'Widow' Who Wasn’t and the Knitter

For mid-February here in Michigan, the roads were as clear and dry as summertime and that’s rare where I had to go last weekend, which was 93 miles round trip out to the boondocks to a baby shower for my niece’s soon-to-be born first granddaughter. Along with a few store bought things, I had knitted a baby car-seat blanket, finishing it just in the nick of time. The parents picked gray and yellow for the baby’s “theme.” My niece’s other daughter-in-law picked brown and blue for her baby. Knitting for newborns isn’t cut-and-dry, pink or blue anymore. This past year I’ve even made a maroon and gold car-seat blanket. I didn’t like it but sports team colors apparently are all the rage with babies now, at least in my husband’s family. This last one was my eighth car-seat blanket in a year. Nine if I count the one I donated to the senior hall craft show last Christmas. I’ll need a couple more before all the potential new parents in this generation (Don’s side and my side) are covered plus I’ve got plans and yarn around to make more for the next craft sale.

I’ve decided I am a selfish person. A lady I don’t know from the senior hall, who also donated a car-seat blanket to the craft sale, tracked me down and asked me if she could have a copy of my pattern. It’s a basket weave and she uses a standard stocking stitch. I’m not sure where the original pattern is---I printed it off the internet---but I’ve made it so many times it’s in my head. I could probably write it out for her but here’s where my selfish side is coming in. I don’t want to! People rave over how pretty that basket weave pattern is and it’s the only claim to crafting fame I have down at the senior hall. If she starts making them, too, well, you know where this is going. I did tell her the name of the stitch so she could easily adapt her pattern but that wasn’t good enough. She wants it written out. So what do I do? Do I give it to her even though I’d rather not, or do I play the forgetful, old woman card the next time she asks? 

Knitting has been this week’s theme. My niece-in-law wants me to teach her how to read patterns, do increases and decreases, make mittens and do a cable stitch so I’ve been preparing samples and finding hand-outs for my mini class. I’ve never made a mitten in my life until this week, but she’s got a bunch of young grand-babies and years of mitten making ahead of her so the lesson will be time well spent. 

Christian author and speaker, Joyce Meyer, says, “If selfishness is the key to being miserable, then selflessness must be the key to being happy.” If that’s true---and I have no reason to believe it’s not---then what does it mean when we are selfish in one situation (like not giving patterns to strangers) but generous with others as in sharing my time and knowledge with someone I know and love? Am I two-faced or is it human to be inconsistent with a basic value of living in a complex society? Is there a little calculator in our heads that keeps track of the long-term and short-term consequences of our selfless and selfish actions? Author and political commentator, Alan Dershowitz seems to recognize selfishness isn’t a black and white issue. “Good character consists of recognizing selfishness that inheres in each of us” he says, “and trying to balance it against the altruism to which we should all aspire.” 

I started thinking about all this a few days ago when I was reading a blog written by a woman who calls herself a “widow” but the man she loved and who died was a married man. She told about how she had gone to a grief support meeting and left in tears because she thought the other women there would “judge her” if she told her story. Well, duh! She also said she felt all alone at the funeral because the man’s wife was “getting all the condolences.” Well, double duh, Sweetie! The woman who writes the check for the funeral usually does get that privilege. Call me crazy, but to me it would be an act of pure, audacious selfishness to expect widows at a support group to welcome her with an open heart and loving arms if she spills the beans about having affair with a dearly departed. But what do I know about selfishness and selflessness, I’m the woman who doesn’t even want to give a stranger a knitting pattern!

I couldn’t get her story out of my mind. Where does a non-widow like her go to find support? Is there an app for that? I consulted Google and guess what. What she is going through actually has a name. Its call ‘disenfranchised grief’---grief you can’t talk about because it’s considered unacceptable to others. I learn something new every day! And now I suppose I need to go Google how to atone for my judgmental, SNL church-lady persona. ©

21 comments:

  1. You shouldn't do anything you don't want to do. I wouldn't call that selfish. It's her monkey and her circus. You aren't obliged to join in her issues. I'm just saying.

    As for the other woman? Triple duh.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Triple duh---I love that! I keep wondering what she would have done if the man's wife had been at the same grief support meeting.

      I read another blog a while ago about a woman who had found evidence that her recently deceased husband had been having an affair. Talk about covering the whole array of emotions! I can't imagine going through that kind of pain.

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  2. Keep your pattern, you could tell her a white lie of, it came down my family line and will stay there. Or you could be brutal - It's mine, you understand? Mine! All mine! Get back in there! Down, down, down! Go, go, go! Mine, mine, mine!

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    1. Oh, I like that, Dean!---a white lie is something I could pull off. If I was in a humorous mood I could probably pull off a comical version of 'brutal', too. Thanks!

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    2. Another way to go, without even a white lie, is to say, "I'm not comfortable sharing that pattern." You could add (only if you wished to do so) "I think of it as mine."

      Many of us have something that is "our thing". Even my mother who was as generous as they come would not share certain of her recipes.

      Good luck, however you decide to handle the request.
      Cop Car

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    3. Cop Car, thanks for the sharing that! This is a good example of how the truth can set you free. Why is it so hard to see that!

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  3. Glad I read your whole blog, because my first instinct on seeing the blanket, was to ask you for the pattern! LOL I don't even know what a car seat blanket it. I don't really need the pattern--I am spending the rest of my life cross stitching baby quilts for my, as yet, un-conceived great grandbabies. I like the idea of telling her it was your grandma's pattern and is a family treasure. I have people try and get my spaghetti sauce recipe out of me. I guess I should never have mentioned that I make spaghetti sauce for the kids at Christmas. I just kind of skirt the request, but when forced, I just tell them that it's a family recipe and a secret one.

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    1. A car-seat blanket is smaller than a regular baby blanket and they have holes in them to pass the seat beat through so they don't slide off. Great for strollers, too. I like making them because they don't take very long compared to regular blankets. You know, now that you mention, my pattern dilemma is exactly like a recipe request! Thanks for that comparison. Lots of people say 'no' to recipe requests.

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    2. Absolutely!! and remember, we are (supposed) past the place where we are trying to please everyone. :-)

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  4. I'm with you on this one. A church woman once requested I draw the bulletin cover for free, and I got the bee in my bonnet. It felt exploitive, like someone putting a slug in my little vending machine, turning the knob and running off with a free drawing. (I made drawings for a living, a very good living). So it was a like someone at a party asking a doctor for free medical advice. This same doctor might volunteer his services in health clinics, but he's not a medical vending machine for everybody that wants to beat the system.

    Maybe you could say your knitting design is propriety information, a secret family recipe you've been sworn to keep under lock and key. LOL

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    1. That doesn't surprise me. Churches are always looking for donations of goods and services. We got requests for free snow plowing all the time at churches which isn't that smart because of insurance liability and slips and falls on property where you're not under contract. When I worked in the floral industry we got requests for free altar flowers as well.

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  5. I'll try again - comment disappear.
    I've been welcomed into 2 knitting groups where the knitters have helped me with new stitches and techniques. One even found a pattern that I had been looking for and knitted a sample to show me the repeat. I understand that you don't want to share the actual pattern but how about downloading the basket weave stitch from a web site like new stitch a day.

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    1. Thanks for chiming in, Anne!

      At first I assumed that she would be able to do that herself, since I did tell her the name of the stitch. She's my age so I doubt she's a newbie with knitting needles....but she might be with a computer. Maybe THAT'S why she wanted a printed copy.

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  6. After many years of working in a correctional facility, I got really good at saying no. Can you do this for me? No. Can I do this? No. No excuses attached. Just no. It feels good! I don't want to share that pattern! Anyway, I don't see it that you are being selfish. You can see what she might be doing with it, taking away the uniqueness of what you are doing. Okay, maybe it is selfish but I am with you on that!!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Over Christmas I did that for the first time in my life---said no without giving a follow up excuse. It really did feel good. No one can talk you out of that. I volunteer during the good weather months but I don't want to during the winter when there is no way ahead of time to know what the roads will be like. So I just said, "No, I can't do it."

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  7. I don't think it makes you selfish at all! You were generous enough to tell her the stitch ... she can go to a knit shop to get directions. When the next person asks ... you can say it's a proprietary project that you created for just your family.

    DUH is double right! Good god!

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    1. Thanks for weighing in on the "duh" situation! I remember reading another blog a year or two ago and that woman had found evidence that her husband was having an affair when he died. She had no idea it was going on! I keep thinking what it would have been like for her to run into "the other woman" at a grief support meeting. More recently, I read a blog where a woman had come up to one of the adult kids of the deceased at a funeral and wanted to meet. They did and she wanted to confess an affair with the deceased! A loss is a loss and I'm sure it hurts but that doesn't give "the other woman" a right to assume the wife and family needs to know about her!

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  8. Can you imagine the non-widow lady telling her story at a support group of widows? Something tells me she would not get much consolation.

    Don't feel bad about not sharing your pattern. My MIL lived in a small town. Church was a great part of her social life. The "church ladies" made several of those church cookbooks. My MIL published several of her recipes over the years, but after she died, we realized there was a discrepancy between one of her published recipes and the recipe she had written in her own recipe file. It was one of her most popular recipes, one she was known for. She had changed the amount of one of the ingredients. I've heard that it was common for a woman to leave out one ingredient or change the amount when giving a prize recipe away. People would say, "This is very good, but it isn't quite like Annie Carters'."

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    1. That's funny about your mother-in-law. I'll bet she wasn't the only one who does/did that! My mother could never give out a recipe because she never used them. She cooked by taste. You'd have to sit next to her and write things down as she put ingredients in.

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  9. I've been practicing saying no lately -- no with no excuses, or white lies, or sometimes with no explanation at all. There is a woman I know, a bit younger than I, who is masterful at this. She is friendly and outgoing and people like her a lot, but boy can she say no, with a sweet smile and not apologies! I think it's a good skill to have and when I pull it off I feel all grown up and strong. Funny, isn't it how we feel we must accommodate even some of the most intrusive and thoughtless requests for pieces of ourselves?

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    1. It is a good skill to have! I was in retail for so many years---selling weddings---where saying no to anything just wasn't done. We could do anything if someone was willing to pay for. Now, I have to practice saying no even before I'm asked. LOL

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