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, May 29, 2015

A Quilt Full of Memories, Restaurant Hops and Moving On



The weather on Thursday was cooperative for a day trip to a tourist town on Lake Michigan. It was sunny, warm and the clean smell of the Great Lake was in the air. Grand Haven is known for its summer Coast Guard Festival but I was there for a restaurant hop organized by my local senior hall. (There were four busloads of us who went, spread out over several days.) If you ever get a chance to go on one, try it. We started out with soup or salad at a place with a great ambiance, then we shopped our way down to a gorgeous turn-of-the-century bank-turned-restaurant where the main course was served followed by an hour where we could do more shopping or check out the nearby marina and lighthouse. I did the latter. After that, we met for dessert and drinks at a third place. The best part of a restaurant hop is we pre-order and pre-pay for our choices so we have don’t waste time looking at menus, waiting for our food to be prepared or standing in line to pay. I had a shaved fennel and apple salad, a Stony Creek salmon dinner and tiramisu for dessert. All gourmet. All yummy! 

This week I also went to see a woman who does long-arm quilting for those of us who have made the tops of quilts, basted the batting and back panel in place and then left the project hanging in a closet for too long. That’s what I did with the queen-size quilt pictured below. I call it my “sanity quilt” because cutting and hand-sewing all those quilt pieces together literally saved my sanity in the first year following my husband’s stroke. We were stuck in a one bedroom, wheelchair accessible apartment while our two houses were up for sell and I was taking him back and forth to therapies four days a week. The lady will have the long-arm machine work done by the middle of July, she promised. I can’t wait. I’m thinking of redecorating my bedroom to match the quilt. She said when it’s finished I “must” take it to a quilt shop to show her friend who owns the place. She supposedly will “appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship.” 

I’ve only made two handmade quilts in my life and taking my “sanity quilt” in to be finished off rekindled the bug to try another one. Like I need another project, says the woman who still has some unfinished designer-type teddy bears sitting in a box from my pre-caregiver days. Heck, let’s be honest here. The entire contents of my old sewing room from my old house has never been unpacked. Still, when the big summer fabric sale starts I’m going to check it out. I really do wish I could get my creative flare for working with fabrics back. It got lost when I finished that "sanity" quilt top and I got busy settling us into our new “normal” life that lasted for twelve years. Defining moment. When Don acquired a major disability it sure changed the trajectory of our lives. It changed him. It changed me. I’ve written about defining moments in this blog before. Once I wrote: “Sometimes we need the distance of time to recognize our defining moments.” And another time I wrote, “It's not always what we do in life that gives us our defining moments, sometimes it's what we don't do---the roads not traveled.” I'm thinking that getting the quilt finished will put a period on that caregiver part of my life?

With the exception of these past three years as a widow, I have not traveled life alone in a very long time. Now, there is nothing holding me back from doing whatever I want. “If only it was that easy,” a choir of widows is singing in my ear. I read in a grief recovery book that for every year a couple was together it takes one month to recover after one of them dies. For me that translates to three and a half years. Drum roll please. I’m three years and nearly four and a half months into that professionally predicted grieving and healing period. Can you believe it, I still have forty-eight days to go before anyone has the right to say, “It’s been long enough. Move on woman!” Of course, no one is going to say that to me. They see me going here and there. They think I have moved on, and on the surface they have good reason to believe that to be true. 

Forty-eight days, or not, who knows if ticking off that time will actually matter. All I know for sure is when the dusty light of dawn creeps into the my bedroom and I'm just waking up I feel empty inside---even on days when I’m going on a day trip. That feeling doesn't recede until I'm in the kitchen drinking coffee and the dog is barking at something moving in the yard. Still, that’s progress. I remember when those empty and alone feelings used to last all day long and into the night. ©

You can right click on the photos to enlarge them, if you want to see the details on my quilt.




15 comments:

  1. My goodness! I am so impressed with the quilt, I have no words.

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    1. Thank you. The long-arm quilt lady says very few people are hand piecing quilts now days which is one of the reasons she wants me to show this one to her friend. I told her I wouldn't like doing them all on a machine. I did one sampler that way but will never do another. To me hand sewing the blocks is like busy work in front of the TV (or in the case of the quilt above in waiting rooms, too). Machine quilting is more like work than absence minded of busy work...huge difference for me. I don't think I'll ever use a pattern either other than for individual blocks. I like the surprises and unpredictability you get by not using a pattern of all the same blocks. I've seen a few quilts put together that look like landscapes or seascapes at art shows and they often win prizes. They are intriguing but I don't think I'd attempt one.

      I wish you'd post a photo of the project you're working on for your friend where you're testing the pattern. Or maybe she doesn't want you to? I take it she's going to sell the pattern after its been tested?

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  2. Love the quilt. Not a crafty bone in my body and not a desire to create anything. I do appreciate those that do though.

    I think everyone grieves in their own way and I really doubt there is a formula that works for everyone. A very personal issue.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Thank you. I was talking to someone recently about how some of us love crafts and others love sports and what makes us each that way. For me, if I'm going to spend a couple of hours doing something I want "proof" of how I spent my time at the end. People who love to do sports can get that same kind satisfaction from within. A woman who was in the same conversation plays cards four days a week. I'm sure it's fun but I couldn't do that without feeling guilty.

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  3. The quilt is quite amazing! I am a machine quilter and I do landscape quilts! I have just recently started embellishing my quilts with yarns and toile. I realize I am on the doorstep of a whole new wonderland!
    Your comment above concerning "proof" is interesting! I used to be a runner (until my body stopped cooperating with my desires). The internal satisfaction from that is immense. Now I do more sedentary but equally satisfying activities: playing music and quilting. They are equally satisfying but in very different ways.
    Regards
    Leze


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    1. I wouldn't even know where to start a landscape quilt. They are quite intriguing. I just know how often I repaint sections of paintings and I can picture me ripping out more than I sew. I can image shopping for fabrics could take hours. I just got back from the fabric store, bought some quarters for inspiration. I had forgotten all about quarters and I'm in love with them all over again.

      I wish you had a blog so you could post photos of your quilts. I've never seen one embellished with yarns and toile. I've embellished with patches and appliques but that's all.

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  4. That quilt is gorgeous. You are an artist.

    I know the feeling you are talking about in the early hours of the morning, I started feeling that when we moved to Dad's. I can't imagine having that feeling all day. I don't have it often now, but I do know how horrible it is. I'm glad you don't live with that all day anymore. I can't imagine how horrible that would be.

    Your restaurant hop sounds fun.

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    1. I used to get that morning feeling when I was caregiving my dad, too. It's such a hopeless, don't want to face the day thing isn't it.

      Thank you about the quilt!

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  5. Jean :

    reading your blogs always makes me realize how untalented I am. I feel you are perfectionist whatever job you take on whether making quilt or looking after your dad or Don or ebaying you giver your best & do amazing job. I wish I can try to integrate that quality in me, but I am different I try to whatever I can do with my ability & then go with flow.

    Asha

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    1. That's all any of us can do but try our best. What you don't see of me, though, are my failures. If I'm not good at something after really giving it my best, I keep it mostly to myself and move on...with the exception of cooking. I'm kind of known for being an inept cook. LOL

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  6. I'm so impressed by quilters of your skill. I have a friend who is a master of hand-piecing and hand-quilting. I've made one really super easy (tied) quilt and one I started and never finished -- it's in a box in my attic somewhere. Someday...???? I do have quilts hand-made by both my mom and grandma. I treasure them as keepsakes and marvel at the time and skill. Good for you to get your completed. It's beautiful.

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    1. Thank you. I have one of those unfinished quits in a box too. I looked at it this week and I know I'll never finish it. It looks so simple and uninspiring now that I know more about quilting.

      You are lucking to have quilts made my your mom and grandma. I'm glad you treasure them. So many people don't anymore.

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  7. Jean, The quilt is beautiful, and getting it finished does seem like an important symbolic statement. I'm also hoping to get back to the creativity of sewing -- although in my case, it's clothing I'm interested in creating. -Jean

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    1. I used to sew all my own clothing and had several tailoring classes in college. I quit making clothing in the mid 70s and I don't have any desire to start in again. I would like to get my machine set up so I could tweak store bought things, though. I could use the shoulders reset on most of my clothing. I hope you find that tailoring class you've wanted. That would be a great wintertime pastime.

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    2. P.S. I do think finishing the quilt is symbolic. Another baby step forward.

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