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, April 21, 2015

Widows Living Double Lives---Or Not



Sometimes I wonder if the whole world isn’t walking around showing something different on the outside than they feel on the inside. Robin Williams, for example, before he killed himself seemed driven to entertain people to the point he was living a double life. I guess a few close friends knew he suffered from depression but he was either: A) keeping a stiff upper lip, as they used to say, or B) was afraid he’d do what he ultimately did if he let go of his public persona. That’s an over simplification, I know, because he’d also been known to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol which only complicates an already complicated human condition. All I know for sure is being admired and loved, having opportunities, having close friends and ‘stuff’ and enough money to pay your bills doesn’t give you immunity against feeling something is missing in your life. 

I got a pedicure on Saturday and the girl was twenty minutes late getting me started. She apologized and went on to explain that the woman scheduled before me---another widow---was late for her appointment. According to the pedicurist, who knows the woman’s family, the widow has become a recluse since her husband died and has done nothing but drink beer and get drunk this past year. Her family is worried. “She needs to get involved with the widows over at the senior hall,” I told her. “They have tons of activities…” blah, blah, blah I went on to sing their praises. I told the same thing to my hair stylist recently because she’s was worried about her mother being alone and depressed. Later, my hairdresser came to the senior hall with her mother---a daughter helping her mother get over the fear of meeting new people. She reminded me of a parent walking a child to the first day of kindergarten. These two widows aren’t living a double life, they wear their misery on their sleeves. 

Monday I went to a crazy class at the senior hall, a demonstration on all things related to granola. How bored did I have to be last February when I signed up for that class? Massively so but I went anyway even though Monday I didn’t give a wit about granola (says the woman who bought $17.00 worth of ingredients). So there I sat learning how to mix twigs and nuts, knowing full well I still have a bag of unopened, pinhead oats from the last time I took one of these better eating classes. It’s sitting right next to a bag cookies---opened and replaced several times since the oats found their way inside freezer. At least when I die and they clean out my kitchen they’ll think I tried to eat healthy. Appearances are important. Oh, God, is that proof that I’m living a double life? Which is better, being a Molly Mope-Face 24/7 or being a Mary Sunshine in public and a Molly Mope-Face in the dark of night where cookies have been known to get mistaken for human hugs? 

Tuesday I was back to the hall for the annual spring cleaning day. Over 700 paying members---$15.00 a year---and only twenty showed up for cleaning day. What does that say about us twenty? I don’t know about the others but it says that I don’t volunteer much for the fun duties like being a door greeter or pouring coffee so it doesn’t kill me to get down and dirty once a year. They ask those of us who are able, to volunteer for at least two things a year and my second commitment is coming up in May. I’ll be helping with the Mother’s Day luncheon. It’s fitting that I work it since I’m not a mother who needs honoring. I did learn one interesting thing about volunteers when I worked this luncheon last year; twelve men showed up to set up the tables and chairs and to take them down afterward. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen that many men at the hall at the same time. Guys: Take a note. If you're looking for a second chance at love, skip online dating. Join a senior hall. You’ll be surrounded by single women.

Once in a while one of those guys will sit next to me at a lecturer. He’s a fuddy-duddy sort of guy who loves to cook and garden and he comes with no x-spouse baggage aka dead or divorced women in his life. Okay, that could mean he’s gay or maybe he was a wild flowerchild in his youth who “lived in sin” with the love of his life. Maybe his mamma killed off all his girlfriends like in a movie I saw recently on TV. Don’t you wish living people came with QR codes like they’re putting on tombstones now? You could hold your cell phone up to a person’s QR code and see their entire history. It will happen one day in a galaxy far, far away. People will have embedded electronic IDs that prevents teens from buying beer, old people from driving cars and people from living double lives. Like cows now have computer chipped ear tags that decide what vitamins and how much food each cow gets, our QR codes will force treatments and restrictions on the Robin Williams’ of the world and we’ll all live mundanely even-tempered ever after. So says the keepers of Orwellian conspiracy theories and, sadly, that could put Nabisco and Dos Equis out of business. ©

22 comments:

  1. Hubby is the love of my life and if I outlive him I don't want another one. When you've had the best there is no room for second place. I doubt I'd want to go to the senior hall either. I don't know. I'll be 64 in September and I hope I won't have to face any of this anytime soon.

    Drinking sorrows away never works, but we both know that.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I don't drink at all and don't plan to start any time soon. I don't get why people think that's going to help anything, but I've heard more than a few stories of widows who have started in. I think keeping busy at the senior hall is a healthier alternative and one I never would have guessed when I was your age that I would be doing in my future.

      Thanks for the comment!

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  2. I am re-reading "Brave New World", so I am thinking micro-chips can't be too far ahead for us. I have never drank and glad I am that I never started. With my addictive personality, I'd be a souse!!!

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    1. I can't remember if I read that but I should. I'm trying to pick my way through some of the classics again. I'm on You Can't Go Home Again right now.

      Chocolate is bad enough when it comes to addictions. LOL

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  3. It's amusing what looks good on a cold winter day in February! I am presently enrolled in an 8 week (on Fridays) class on Line Dancing! I guess it looked like something to warm the body and actually it is movement for and hour an a half and it is entertaining. But once or twice (we are in week 5) I have thought "what was I thinking!"
    Socrates is finished (4 sessions) and we did explore the examined life but how different it is to do all this examining from the perspective of having lived most of our lives. I felt that I could be much more critical of him because I had experience that I didn't have when I read him in college. And I didn't take him as seriously.
    Line Dancing I am taking very seriously because I have no experience in it and I have to practice!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. That would be interesting to study and contrast your reactions to Socrates now and then. That class in college had a big influence on my life and world view.

      Line Dancing sounds like fun although hard.

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  4. Monday my late husband would have been 86 (he died 15 months ago and we'd had 35 wonderful years together - even if the last few years were troubled by his increasing but, I had thought, not severe dementia. He always knew all of us, could follow along with most of our family conversations, and lived comfortably and reasonably happily here at home till pneumonia took him away pretty swiftly. Then on Tuesday I received a very belated 6-page autopsy report from the Brain Bank to which we had donated his slightly addled brain for research. Imagine my shock to read that this clinical study revealed he was in the final stage ("Braak + Braak VI") of Alzheimer's! Didn't know whether to feel lucky (that he remained socially functional to the end) or sad (that his condition was even worse than any of us knew) - and so went from one to the other state all day. Just had to tell someone, because frankly, the fact that he was able to remain home, immersed in a loving family, is what kept him going - or at least played a big part. That, plus some incredible luck (if dementia can ever be called lucky)!

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    1. I can identify with reading an autopsy report and getting a shock like that. It happened with my mother's.

      Keeping your husband at home was quite an accomplishment and a testament to the power of love. My sister-in-law was in a lock down facility for violent Alzheimer's patients. She rarely knew any of her family in the last months.

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  5. I always say you cannot compare your reality to another person's facade. You only see what they want you to see. Me? I'm pretty much an open book as you know and sometimes it gets me in trouble but I don't know how to be any other way. Just do what feels right, that's all I can say. Right now dating seems right for me although I never thought it would. We change and evolve I suppose. Anyway I seem to be pretty happy so no regrets. I think as long as I don't hurt anyone or anything I'm good to go.

    hugs, bee
    xoxo

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    1. That's a good philosophy to live by, Bee. I'm pretty much an open book as well. All my ups and downs are well documented here. LOL

      I'm glad dating is working well for you but I have no interest in doing it.

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  6. I can totally see myself as a regular at the Senior Center some day. I actually already go there for my Osher classes and one guy (in his 80's, I'd guess) likes to flirt with me (20 years his junior. Ha). I guess I'm a joiner even though I'm an introvert. I don't like small talk socializing, but I like a few companions, learning, laughing and pitching in (I'd be at cleaning day). Also loved your line "cookies have been known to be mistaken for human hugs". Yep.

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    1. If my husband had made it to 80, he would have been "flirting" with someone twenty years his junior. You are giving that old guy a chance to remember what it was like in the good old days. LOL

      I never thought I'd be a joiner but you can't sit home waiting for someone to knock on your door who is going to fill the hole in your life. You have to get out and do things.

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  7. You mean I'd have no idea of the grump you really are, if I met you? Oh gosh, LOL. You're SO much more interesting being real, here.

    I don't know about the Molly Mopers, having been one myself. Trick is to not fall down the Molly Moper rabbit hole forever.

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    1. No, I'm not generally a grumpy person. But I do think some of the people who are always "on", always happy, happy, happy are faking it sometimes. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I've said it before about widows..."fake it until you can make it." Self fulfilling prophecies and all that. If you tell yourself you're going to be alright, in time you will be.

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  8. Hi Jean. Love your blog. Have read it all over the past 22 months. Your positive and humorous spin on things is what keeps me coming back. "Cookies have been known to get mistaken for human hugs" -- priceless! Made me laugh out loud. TY! I may have posted a comment once on your blog some time back, don't remember. My DH died 22 months ago. It's been a bumpy ride! So glad to have found your blog, made the bumps seem funny rather than disasters so to speak. Your frequent reminders to make the effort to get involved has been inspiring. As a shy introvert I need all the reminders to get out there, hah. One big change in my life since my DH died is that I no longer try to be someone else, as in cheerful when I am not, etc. What a freedom that is! But, when feeling like Molly Moper, I do stay quietly at home until the mood passes. Cyber-hugs, Ann in IL

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    1. Ann, thank you so much for the comment. Sometimes I do wonder why I keep blogging when my life is so ordinary and sometimes I actually do something just so I'll have something to write about it: Example ordering the Undead Elvis Burger. LOL

      What a freeing thing to do (allowing yourself to be authentic even if you're not at your best). "Staying quietly at home until the mood passes" is an important reminder to us all the those Molly Moper moods DO in fact pass and I'll add that they pass faster when we acknowledge them. Cyber-hugs back at you!

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  9. Oh, you are so funny. I needed a laugh. I love the way your mind works. They probably will put chips in us. I want one for math. My intuition is pretty good.... except when it's not.

    If I could find a senior hall around here, I sure join it. I don't understand it. They even have senior halls/centers out in the boonies where my husband grew up, but I haven't found anything around here.

    Along with millions of other people, I loved Robin Williams. My son and DIL ran into him in NYC. He was very nice to them. She and her family are immigrants, and they fell in love with him when they moved here. Humor truly is universal, and he brought them a lot of joy during a difficult time. She was able to tell him that. They were saddened, probably more than the average person, when he died.

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  10. It bothers me too...not so much for me but I felt badly that he carried so much secret pain inside himself. The world lost a great comic when with him.

    There is a little town near me that for two years I tried to find a senior hall in. I knew they had one but just couldn't connect. One day I was at my sister-in-laws and she had a newsletter of their events sitting on her table. That hall and the one I go to are both under the umbrella of the high schools. After you move you could try calling the school offices and see if they know of any groups for senior citizens. All our newsletters and the support staff are paid through the schools.

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  11. I just love reading your blog. It always makes me stop and think ... and then not feel abnormal in how I am living right now. How many times I change my mind. How many times I say "I don't think I'll be doing that ..." but later do.

    We are all just a work in progress.

    My Adult Center in Oregon is FABULOUS. The one in Maui is not.

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    1. Same with the senior centers around here. Some are better than others and it all depends on who the director is, in my opinion. Some care more than others.

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  12. LOL, Jean, When they clean out your refrigerator and find weevils living in those pin oats, it will probably be a clue that you weren't eating them on a regular basis!
    Thanks for giving me yet another belly laugh. Since they've now decided that laughing is good for your health, I can't count reading your blog as one of my healthy activities (more fun than granola class). :-) -Jean

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    1. Oh, yuck, I never thought about weevils! I guess if I ever decide to cook the pin oats I'd better put my glasses on. But who am I fooling? By now all its nutritional value is probably gone after all this time.

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