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

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Airman, the Doctor and the Widow with a Driver’s License




At the gas station this week I saw a guy who was wearing an Air Force uniform, rare in my part of the world. I was guessing he was a recruiter making the rounds of the high schools and if so, they picked a good one. He was tall, dark and handsome---like Tom Cruise in Top Gun---and he carried himself with the kind of swagger that comes from knowing who you are and what you can do. I guess Tom isn’t all that tall but why spoil my illusions with facts? The point is my younger self would have followed Mr. Recruiter anywhere if he’d have given me the slightest encouragement. Surface-to-air missiles shooting at me? No problem as long as you’re there, too. Now, I just wanted to sit Mr. Recruiter down in front of a painting easel and preserve his killer smile on canvas. “Let me get that door for you, ma`am,” he said making me bask in the warmth of his brown eyes. Sometimes it pays to look like a weak old woman. “Thank you, sir,” I replied and I wanted to add, Could I interest you in sitting for a portrait? God, if I didn’t have an imagination, I’d have no life at all!

I saw my orthopedic doctor this week, too, with the hopes that he’d cut me loose from post-surgery restrictions. No such luck. I have to go back in a week to see if the shot he put in my shoulder joint relieves the pain I’m getting in my bicep. If it does significantly, I’ll get a shot of “super gel” that should give me relief for a year or more. At least now I am cleared for picking up things under ten pounds. It’s a start, though I still can’t bench press. I don’t know if that’s a joke my doctor is making or he actually thinks gray-haired old ladies like me are into body building, but he makes a point of telling me that every time I see him. Fortunately, by nightfall the day I got the test shot, my pain level had fallen from a seven to a one which means the super gel junk will be worth the $500 out of pocket cost. Yeah, team! 

My driver’s license this year had to be renewed in person at the Department of Motor Vehicles and I was really sweating the experience. My eyes have been bothering me all winter and I suspect the cataract the doctor, last summer, said wasn’t big enough to get removed will be when I see him next month. It’s been a lot of years since I was required to renew my license in person, rather than by mail, and when the lady at the DMV checked my eyes I couldn’t read the first two letters to save my soul. Oh, shit! I said to myself and when I use the ‘S word’ you know I’m really upset. But then I realized I could see the rest of the letters in the line and I rattled them off, presumably with enough rattled correctly because I passed the test. I must have passed the ‘racial profiling’ test, too, because they didn’t ask me to show proof of citizenship like the renewal form that came in the mail said I had to bring along. 

Lines at the DMV are notorious for being long and the process can eat up an hour or two so I brought along a book. I picked one from my library based on two factors and two alone. It had to be light weight and it had to have big print because I didn’t want to strain my eyes. The book I grabbed was one I evidently had for a college course on theology or philosophy that I took back in the ‘70s. I could almost deny I ever read it but it was filled with passages underlined in yellow with a generous amount of notes in the margins written in my hand writing. One passage went like this: 

“Self-knowledge, so universally praised as the most valuable, remains worse than useless if it is based solely on the study of one’s own inner experiences; it must be balanced by an equally intensive study of Field 3, through which we learn to know ourselves as others know us. This point is too often overlooked.” (E.F. Schumacher)

The chapter goes on to talk about how we are unaware of the “swing of our pendulums.” Our mind’s eye edits out what we think is contradictory in ourselves and we think we are showing ourselves to the world in a clear message. It gives a great example to illustrate the point; if we take 50 photos of ourselves we’ll throw out the bad ones forgetting, of course, that others see all our states of facial expression, not just the ones we deem are the best. Same with our personalities. Others see it all---the good, the bad and everything in between, but we don't don't like to acknowledge that.

Which gets me back to Mr. Recruiter. What did he see when he opened the door for me? He was in uniform which dictated he had to present himself with the decorum of an officer. Was that all that was on his mind? Or did he think he’d get into the gas station faster if he helped me with the door? Did his mind wander to a grandmother he doesn’t visit often enough? E.F. Schumacher may think it makes a difference how he saw me but, to me, if a smile from a stranger can brighten up my day and fire up my imagination, I could care less if he thought I looked and sounded like a gray tree frog during mating season. ©


17 comments:

  1. Exchange Tom Cruise for Reacher and I'm in with the thoughts. Reacher is a fictional character written by Lee Childs. Reacher is 6'5" and weighs between 230 and 250 pounds depending on what physical things he's doing. I've read every one of those books and let me tell you I get the same feeling from those books as you did with that recruiter.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read a couple of Child's books with Reacher. I'm happy to keep Tom and let you have Reacher in our imaginations. We ladies need to play fair. LOL

      Delete
  2. What I was curious was this: that college text that you said you made comments in and underlined: did you read through them and understand the comments of your younger self? The reason I am asking is that occasionally when I go through old papers and find papers that I have written, I don't recognize them. Not only do I not recognize the paper and the thoughts but I don't recognize the style or the thinking and it leaves almost nothing to connect it to me. They almost all get burned! It makes me wonder about Schumacher's paragraph because if even I can't perceive myself in my writings from years ago, how would any of us be able to try to perceive how other people perceive us?
    Regards,
    Leze

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I didn't recognize my own handwriting I wouldn't have remembered reading the book. I didn't remember reading it and the comments seemed like a higher level of thought than I'm used to doing today. I've done a lot of underlining in books and I always enjoy going back and reading those parts, especially if it's a book from years ago. With this one, I really didn't understand a lot of the passages I thought were important so many years ago, but they intrigued me at the same time.

      There was a whole chapter on how to learn to see ourselves through other people's eyes. I just skim read but it seems to have to do with learning how to uncritically observe our interactions with others with objectivity and letting go of the tendency we all have of seeing ourselves at the center of the universe.

      I should probably try to reread the whole book or at least the last chapter about what it means to live in this world. It seems to be about seeking higher levels of goodness within ourselves. LOL

      Delete
  3. LOL. You mean you might not have betrayed your lust? Perhaps he has a bedroom full of cougars at home, heh, heh.

    Wouldn't it be interesting if, for just one hour, we looked like the most beautiful woman in the world? Then we'd experience the difference in the way people behave toward us, probably more like this fellow has people treat him when he's in uniform and flashing that killer smile. Personally I believe I'd find people tripping over my beautiful self curious, and I'd be thrilled to get back to being just 'sort of' pretty, 'sort of' memorable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Na, it wasn't a lust thing. He was inspiring like a bowl of fruit in an art class. Just too pretty not to want to preserve.

      You only have to be beautiful for one or two people in your entire life. That's when you know it's real.

      Delete
  4. LOL You're no gray tree frog and Mr. Recruiter was thinking, "If I open this door for this young woman, maybe she'll paint my portrait... or something." If you're going to dream, may as well make it good!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm the same about old college papers and texts. I must have been super smart back then... because now I have no idea what I was talking about!

    Glad you got to enjoy an interaction with your Recruiter. Nice. I've read a bunch of Child's books too. Reacher is too tall/big for me. Tom is about right. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really got turned off by the way Child kept bringing up Reacher's size. I didn't find his description all that attractive to begin with but I thought the repetition was poor writing.

      I think we are all just as smart as we were in college, we were just forced in on the text back then so we could pass the tests we'd have to take. LOL

      Delete
    2. I don't find the Reacher description attractive either, and it was so repetitive! I think those Child's books are good for mindless "entertainment", but the writing isn't great. Also, Fun Fact -- Tom Cruise played Reacher in a movie based on the character -- the movie's name was "Jack Reacher". I remember the outcry among book fans that no way could Tom Cruise be Reacher because he's only like 5'9" or something. LOL

      Delete
    3. Interesting about Tom playing Reacher! I could never picture the book author's Reacher doing all the physical things Child wrote about. He seemed too big and bulky to pull all that stuff off and more suit to a couch potato life.

      Delete
  6. Ah! So glad I'm taking time to READ my blogs today. We ladies need to stick together and share our dreams, lusty or not. I'm going through lusty right now ....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lust is so much fun, even from afar and maybe more so from afar.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm glad your super-gel is working for you because -- yikes!! -- how does someone live alone without lifting things that weigh 10 lbs? This brought back memories of when I had major abdominal surgery 16 years ago; I had to borrow lightweight aluminum pans from a friend so that I could cook (my cast iron cookware was off limits). I do often wonder what kinds of stereotypes inform doctors' expectations and advice. When I had my 6-week follow-up appointment with my surgeon, I asked him if I could go back to my morning stretching exercises. When he said yes, I proceeded to ask, "And if we get any decent snow, can I go cross-country skiing?" The transition from sit-ups to skiing caught him so off-guard that he just howled with laughter, so much so that he had tears running down his face. (Later it occurred to me that I should have explained that my version of cross-country skiing is more like a walk in the woods than like racing.)
    I hope your pain level continues to stay down. -Jean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not being able to pick anything up all winter or shovel snow has been hard. I was worried I'd over use my other arm and really get into trouble.

      That's a funny story about your doctor. I don't think mine is is making fun of me with the bench pressing, but you never know. If he tells me again that I can't do it, I'm going to have to admit to him that I wasn't even sure what that was until I looked it up online. LOL

      Delete