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, April 10, 2015

Baseball, War and a Month of Memories



I’d rather watch grass grow than to go to a baseball game. I’m not a sports fan of any kind but I am a fan of cultural history and when the senior hall offered a lecture on the history of baseball during the Civil War I signed up. The bus picked us up Thursday evening for the event that took place at our state’s presidential library which is located in a city near-by. The speaker, a professor/author and well-known baseball historian is a member of The Chicago Civil War Round Table, an organization a Google search tells me is very large and active in its endeavor to preserve all things related to the War Between the States. It seems odd to me, at times, that we’ve romanticized a war to the extent we do with that war, but that’s a debate for another day. It’s enough to say the results of the Civil War merit that treatment on one side of the debate and on the other side, yearly reenactments of the deaths of so many men seems beyond morbid. The older I get the more of a pacifist I become so you won’t see me in the role of camp follower, doing what some women did during that war. The reenactments remind me that fighting is so deeply bred into humans that, I guess, romanticizing fake fighting is better than the real thing. Too bad we can’t get the rest of the world on board with that thought. Keep them so busy with reenacting past wars they don’t have time for new ones. 

Back to baseball: Dispelling the myth that baseball was invented during the Civil War by Abner Doubleday, a general in the Union Army, was the centerpiece of the lecture. The fact is scholars all agree, now, he had nothing to do with baseball---the game actually evolved from games played with balls during medieval times and no one person invented it. But the myth held on long enough for the National Baseball Hall of Fame to be built in Doubleday’s home town in 1937. An interesting and often funny lecture, I learned that the soldiers on both sides of the war spent more time playing baseball than in actual battles. It was also interesting that Lincoln had a ball diamond on the White House lawn. Who knew!

Speaking of Don---I wasn’t? Oops, that reference got lost in a rewrite. Anyway, April is a month filled with memory triggers for me. Don’s and my birthday fall in April as well as our anniversary and that of my mom and dad’s. My mother died in April and both my brother and brother-in-law share a birthday on the same day in April. And now I have a great-great nephew with an April birthday and soon they’ll be a great-great niece’s birth to celebrate in April. Last weekend I went to the first ever birthday party for little C.S. His mother made an assortment of homemade quiches and the best ever strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. Gifts and cake, too, came with the afternoon. It was good to build some new memories for April, happy memories filled with hope for such a young life. What a bright little boy. Already he’s learning how to point to letters on a wall chart. I may not live long enough for him to remember me, but I’ll bet one day he’ll read the words I wrote in the family genealogy books and learn about his connection to the Civil and Revolutionary Wars. His grandparents, both retired teachers, will see that he learns to love written words. And that pleases me.

I’m looking forward to summer and one of the first signs I get that its coming comes from my neighbor. They are so deep into medieval reenactments that they actually use handwoven clothe to hand stitch into costumes that are very specific to certain centuries of medieval life. Every summer weekend they’re off to reenactments, medieval fairs and jousting tournaments. I’d like to go to one. I heard the pig roasts are great. One day soon they’ll empty out the shed where they keep all their medieval gear---lances, shields, chain-mail, goal posts, a white tent with a pointed “roof” and colorful flags---no horse back there, but someday I expect to see one. Every knight with shining armor needs one. Can you believe it, they actually met at a jousting tournament. How’s that for a romantic way to meet. I can’t wait to ask them if the fairs include ball games. It’s nice to see a young couple so emerged in something fun that teaches at the same time. And maybe that’s the value of Civil War reenactments, too. Maybe it’s not so much about romanticizing war as it is about teaching history. ©


Note: The lithograph at the top is of a baseball game at the Civil War Salisbury Prison in North Carolina. A prisoner from the north recreated the scene when he got back home after the war. 

12 comments:

  1. I'd love to see one of these. I think it would be most entertaining.

    I'm not into sports either. Some folks are fanatical about sports. Over the top.

    Have a fabulous day and a happy April. :)

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    1. Not sure if you mean the medieval or the Civil War reenactments. My step-nephew used to take part in the latter and I was never tempted to go see one. The medieval reenactments, yes, I will go to one of those before I die. I'm just waiting for one to come to a location close enough for me to drive it.

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  2. I have been to two Medieval Fairs and they are fun for sure.

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    1. If they took place in MI then somewhere in the group you walked by my neighbors. I doubt they've missed on in the last eight years. In the wintertime, even, they do planning meetings.

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  3. Having spent 25 years living and working near a major civil war battlefield (Gettysburg), I never "got" the whole reenactment mania or got used to being passed by people in civil war era dress and gear as I walked around town doing errands. Once, I was talking with a colleague in her office on a Friday afternoon in April, when we were startled by the sudden boom of cannon fire. She shrugged and said, "It must be the Easter reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg." -Jean

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    1. From the people I've talked with who do take part in reenactments, I gather some of it is family pride---ancestors who were in the war. For others it's the yearly opportunity to have an excuse to grow a beard and/or go camping in primitive style. It all seems kind of crazy to me, but I'll bet it's also big business for for some selling gear and the tourist dollars it brings to communities. Who knows, if I'd known about the Civil War records of some of my ancestors when I was young, maybe I could have been sucked into the mania, but I doubt it.

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  4. I've always thought the whole Civil War re-enactment thing was so weird. Don't get it. As for Medieval Fairs -- also a little weird, but often they are fun. Now, having watched Game of Thrones for a few seasons, I think I'd worry about a sudden beheading or something. (sorry).

    I grew up near Chicago in a houseful of Cub fans and married one as well. My husband also was a good pitcher though high school and college, as well as high school quarterback and my boys played baseball and one played football. Can you tell we are a sports-crazed family? Since I've become a football fan, baseball seems so slow -- but it's a different experience but I can appreciate it and it's cultural history. I never knew that about Lincoln's lawn baseball diamond! Now THAT seems weird!

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    1. No weirder than some of the other things past president have had at the White House including pigs, cows and horses.

      I think mothers of boys naturally learn to love the sports their sons take part in because they go to games, learn to understand it and cart the boys all over the place to play. I could see my life going that way if I had had kids.

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  5. My son used to go to a local Renaissance Festival when he was in his teens. He was an avid reader and became interested in that period. I don't think he has the interest for it any longer, but he enjoyed it for awhile.

    Your baseball lecture sounds interesting. Dad was a big baseball fan. One of his nurses told me that he was teaching her about baseball. He loved her company. She was so good with him.

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    1. Yet something else we have in common. My dad was a great baseball fan. After the lecture I came home and posted a photo on Facebook of a team he used to play on in the 1930s. Baseball and golf were live long loves for him.

      The Renaissance period was a pretty cool thing for a young guy to be interested in....probably a lot more women that than guys. I'm just guessing. I could be wrong. You should see my neighbor's and her daughter's hair....way down to the middle of their backs. For Halloween last year the dressed in medieval gear. It was so cool to see them.

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    2. oh sports bore me to tears too! i was never good at playing any and bored watching it. i have to go again in may for the fern house family outing and i will but ack!

      smiles, bee
      xoxo

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    3. People say if you learn the rules of the games, you'll enjoy them but I did and I still don't. Glad to know I'm not the only one!

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