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, April 12, 2015

Busy Week, Purging, Bucket Lists and Loneliness



If my wintertime dragged on because I had nothing much on my calendar, I’ll make up for in the next couple of weeks. They should fly by and that’s okay with me. Over the next six days alone I have a dentist appointment, a luncheon, a Red Hat Society tea, a Movie and Lunch Club date, a lecture on selling houses, another lecture on how to pack for overseas travel plus one morning I’ll keep my niece company while her husband has surgery and in the afternoon I have to clean the garage for an upcoming appointment for my sprinkler system spring turn-on. (How do garages get so messy over the winter?) I doubt I’ll ever travel overseas but l like gadgets and gear so I thought that lecture would be interesting. I’ve decided I won’t be selling my house this summer so I could skip the real estate lecture, but I won’t. Buying and selling is still on the table but the condo open houses I’ll be going to over the summer is mostly to check out the communities, to see which ones fit my needs the best.

Have I mentioned that I flunked the class I took last winter about purging? I need to do more of that before I move. It was given by a professional organizer, a mercenary without a sentimental bone in her body and her ideas of disposing of collections and “guy things” rubbed me the wrong way. The first year after my husband died, I paid off a $40,000 mortgage selling his stuff (aka junk in some people's eyes) and Ms. Purge told the class to just give everything that belonged to a dead spouse to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. I about went into cardiac arrest. Giving generic, one-size-fits-all advice to a room full of widows drove me crazy. “He had his is fun with his stuff,” she said, “You don’t need it anymore. Make a clean break!” I get that mindset, I really do, but on the other hand some widows have trouble making ends meet yet they don’t understand some of their husband’s “stuff” has great value and could be sold to help pay the bills. "Be smart," I would have added to her lecture, "and do a little research before you wholesale donate everything but the kitchen sink."

For some odd reason a lot of people recently have been reading a Bucket List post I wrote three months after Don died, so I reread it. Of the 40 things listed I’ve accomplished 21 of them. That would be impressive if I hadn’t listed some pretty small and insignificant things like get low lights in my hair. There was only one biggie---going to Nantucket. (Well, two---moving being the other one.) If I was rich, I’d rent a cottage on Nantucket for the summer. Three things on my Bucket List I no longer want to do like buy a bike. After falling over my own feet since I wrote that list and breaking my elbow and doing damage to my shoulder that lead to surgery, my days of chancing another fall are over. I could get a three wheel bike but I’d have to eat a lot of crow because when my mom was my age she bought an adult-sized tricycle and I made so much fun of that bike, I should be ashamed of myself. Thankfully, I didn’t do it in front or her or my dad.  

I need a new Bucket List with goals and things to check off. I’m drifting through life again and dare I say the word ‘lonely’ has entered my vocabulary recently and I hate both those things. In the winter it was easy to tell myself that any isolation I felt was purely weather related “and this too shall pass” but with spring I’m not buying that anymore. I need a friend! How on earth does a person my age find friends other than doing what I’ve been doing? I’m getting out and about in the community, doing things I enjoy and I’ve made a lot of friendly acquaintances since Don died, but no one person I could call and say, “Hey, do you feel like going over the Lake Michigan for an afternoon?” or even out to lunch. Woo is me! Cripe, it just dawned on me that I’m down today because the next two weeks is filled with too many memory triggers---birthdays, anniversaries, a sadiversary, etc. And Lake Michigan is calling because it’s what we used to do annually to celebrate our birthdays. Thankfully, I’ll be too busy over the next two weeks to feel too sorry for myself. Still, I need to restart the “this too shall pass” looping message in my head. By March I hope to shed the ‘lonely’ label I have stamped on my forehead! Fingers crossed. ©

14 comments:

  1. May will be your turn around month--nice weather, stuff to do outside--a drive over to Sagatuck perhaps? It is now labeled the nice town in Michigan!

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    1. The Chicago Tribune ranks Saugatuck number five among the best little towns in the Midwest which doesn't surprise me because so many people from Chicago hang out there. Who labels it the nicest town? I love it over there. Don and I both started going in our teens. It was "our place" for having fun. Maybe in May I WILL go.

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  2. Well, I've met tons of people volunteering. Tons of people and many are my friends today. I'm not in your situation, but I've heard that more than once. Volunteering somewhere that you'd enjoy. Just a thought.

    Sending you good vibes. :)

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    1. I tried volunteering at a small town museum but found that everyone there had known each other for the past 50-60 years so I was very much an outsider. I do occasionally volunteer to help with events at the senior hall.

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  3. I agree everyone has their OWN way of purging. Not everything should go to Goodwill!! That's just crazy.

    And I bet you'd be surprised about getting a lunch date. Just call someone! A Red Hat friend or someone you've met at the Senior Center or even a neighbor. I think you will find it's easier than you think. If someone called to invite YOU to lunch ... how would you respond? The absolute worst that can happen is you will get a "no" and need to call someone else. Or ... let that person choose a different date that works for them (and you).

    Not everyone will be the kind of friend to go on a trip with (i don't yet have any of those ....)(except my sister). But a once a month lunch of coffee chat? Do iT!!

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    1. Easy for you to say. You're Miss Social Butterfly, always willing and able to throw little dinner parties and get-to-gathers. I would invite someone to lunch if I felt we had things in common to explore but so far all I meet are women who just want to talk about their grandchildren and churches. I have neither so conversations are pretty one sided.

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  4. It is very hard to meet people at our age, and it takes time to develope a good friendship. I think it's a problem for many of us. With so many of us feeling this way, you would think that we could find each other.

    It would have been crazy for you to 'give' away all of Don's stuff. Forty thousand dollars is a lot of money. We've donated a lot of things, but we are also selling some things.

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    1. When I think about the years after high school and college, I struggled to find friends back then as well. Of course then I was looking for a guy friend which is different from now but the same feelings, pressures and stumbling blocks were involved.

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  5. It's true Jean R. How does a garage get so dirty. I have to totally clean out the entire garage from top to bottom, the yard work has to be done as well as I do all the cooking. Yike! When willl I do it all? Ha,ha,ha. Have a great day. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Recyling that doesn't get taken to the drop off center is part of my garage clutter. That's all I'm copping to. The garage fairies do the rest. LOL

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  6. I'm finding that women in their mid-late 60s are very open to friendship, but you missed that window of opportunity while you were taking care of Don after his stroke, and it sounds as though people are less open in their mid-70s. I'm about to attend my 50th high school reunion next month, and I'm finding the preparations for that an opportunity to rekindle some old friendships. These tend to be people whose lives were "out of sync" with mine when we were in our prime adult years, but we have more in common again now that we are older. Do you have any old friendships that might be ripe for rekindling? -Jean

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    1. Funny you should mention the high school reunion. I was just thinking about mine yesterday. My 55th reunion should be this summer. I haven't been to one in years but I'm easy to find so I keep get the invitations. I already decided this year I'll actually go. I wanted to go to the 50th but it was on ship/museum dry docked at Lake Michigan, not wheelchair friendly for Don, so I had to pass or get him a two day sitter. My class has always been into whole weekend, expensive extravaganzas. I still have contact with my best friend through school via email. She lives in D.C. but has no interest in reunions. There could be a few others I might connect with again though. My brother went to his class reunion a few years ago and connected with a woman he now spends a lot of time with.

      I was sitting next to a woman at the senior hall luncheon today and she was talking about being on the run so much because all her grandchildren want to take her here or there. That's kind of typical of what I'm running into---women being busy with family. Another issue is so many of us don't like to drive at night and many of the women I meet babysit their grand-kids during the day, so no time left over to pursue lunch or whatever.

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  7. We'll be taking the same - friendship - journey. I wish you well! I want a comfortable old shoe friendship, so out come my comfortable shoes.

    Man, or rather, Woman, I'm glad you filtered that professional organizer's advice through your common sense. I hope the other women do as well. When we're newly widowed, we're half-witted about nearly everything, so gentle goes the purging.

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    1. "Comfortable old shoe friendship," I love that term and that is what I'd like to have.

      I have great organizational skills. I could never hire a person to do that for me. LOL

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