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, June 21, 2015

From Movie Reviews to Family Parties and Confederate Flags



My Movie and Lunch Club saw a good film last week, I’ll See You in my Dreams. From the tagline used to promote the movie---a widow and former songstress discovers that life can begin anew at any age---I got the impression it would be about an older woman who discovers love again. As it turned out that part is true but with a shock of a twist that I’m dying to talk about but I don’t want to be a spoiler for others who might want to see the movie. Aside from that element serving as one arm tied by behind my back, it’s a hard movie to describe. After seeing it I read an interview of Brett Haley, the director, and he said, “The movie is presented as a series of random and idealized slice-of-life episodes.” The minute I read that I ‘got it’---got why it’s hard to describe the plot. It didn’t have one! But it’s a funny and smart movie with a few tears thrown in and the casting was spot-on with Bylthe Danner and Sam Elliott in the lead and well-known character actors playing three sassy girlfriends who live near-by in an active retirement community. It was great seeing a sisterhood of older women portrayed so positive and alive on the screen. (Color me green with envy.) And unlike a lot of movies featuring senior citizens it isn’t about looking back, it's about looking forward. 

In the same interview mentioned above, Bylthe Danner is quoted as saying this about how she identifies with her character: "I've had to go through losing dogs and people and parents and my one wonderful husband. I think it's about a human being's capacity to handle loss and I think the longer you live, the more you lose, and that's the price of being a survivor." And that’s all the hints I’m giving out, but if you want to see a good chick-flick for older women, do see this movie. You won’t be sorry. All seventeen of us in my group loved it and we laughed hard and long through many scenes. Although we didn’t all agree on whether or not we liked the way it ended. Me? Imagining any other ending that could have brought closure to the non-plot wouldn’t have fit the slice-of-life presentation of the characters, so I’m good with it. The director brought the audience full circle, ending almost where he began.

New Topic: Michigan has a lot of lakes and both my nieces have houses on lakes and Saturday I drove out to the boondocks to go to a family party at my youngest niece’s place. The drive took me by a corner store that had been there since before I was born. Seeing it so busy and full of tourists filling up on junk food and gas to run their water toys brought such a wave of nostalgia over me that it brought tears to my eyes. Growing up I spent many summer afternoons walking the dusty road from my folk’s cottage to that store to get ice cream cones and on Saturday nights we’d bring our blankets there to spread on the ground to watch movies on the side of the building. As I drove on by the store, following the road along the nearly 2,000 acre lake to where the party was held I thought about buying a little place down there. Moving closer to family pulls on me and I love the summer energy around the lakes, but then I came to my senses and remembered how it is in the winter, after the tourists leave and the snow comes. You can’t go home again but it sure is a great place to visit in your daydreams.

The party was just as fun as I knew it would be. I got to hold my first great-great niece (two months old) and watch my two great-great nephews interact with the family. One had learned to walk since I saw him last and the other one has recently learned to stand up. It’s bittersweet to watch this newest generation. Sweet because our family line is finally starting to grow and bitter because I’ll never get to interact with these kids like I did with my nieces and nephew. I won’t know them and they won’t know me. Heck, I don’t really know how to interact with my great-nieces and great-nephews all that well. To them, I’m the old aunt who gets invited to parties who gets the hugs and ‘how are you?’ but I’m not the beloved aunt who played with them as kids, who gave them hands-on love. That baton was passed down a generation a long time ago. Aunts ARE different than great-aunts and given how far away I live from them all I’d be wishing for unicorns to expect any different.

I guess it's also bittersweet because it's another reminder that I’m growing old. But I’m a proud growing older person, proud of everyone in my family and at the party I was especially proud of my oldest niece. We were all talking about the shootings at the South Carolina Bible study and she said she is writing a letter to the South Carolina Tourist Association to tell them she won’t be coming back to their state until the Confederate flag is removed from the state capital grounds. She and her husband have been renting a cottage down there annually for years and she said it hurts to give that up because they love the state. But she wants to take a stand about a flag displayed on public property that has become the banner for White Supremacy groups like the one the shooter belonged to. Living your values when it’s hard to give up something you love is something my dad would have done. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Your influence is still relevant even after all these years since your passing. ©

18 comments:

  1. Racism is rampant from every race. Every race. All you have to do is pay attention. It's pretty sad to watch. Now there are folks that want us white folks to be ashamed of being white and all the horrid things we did to the black race. I've done nothing to harm or hurt any black person. Good grief we've gone over the edge if you ask me. We just need to love each other and quit all this craziness.

    Have a fabulous day., ☺

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    1. I hear what you are saying and I have never harmed or hurt a person of color either, but I do question if that is doing enough. If we don't speak up when others are being racists (of any color) isn't that the same thing as aiding and abiding? Is our silence being translated as acceptance in the eyes of the racist? I don't see how it can ever get better until racists come to understand they are in a tiny, unacceptable minority. Unless we speak up, they can't know that.

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    2. We hurt people not by our direct actions, but often by our inaction. I agree with you, Jean. Racism goes far beyond knowing we personally didn't "hurt" anyone. White privilege hurts everyone. And it's inherent in our culture. To tear down the walls of racism means to dismantle the system, which needs to be done with our laws and policies, and more so with our attitudes, which include "I didn't do it", so it's not my fault. There IS racism run rampant -- (ask any person of color) and I agree, Sandee, let's love one another by standing up for each other when systems fail to protect us from attitudes that keep us divided.

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    3. I lived in S.C. for two years -- on a barrier island off the coast of Charleston. I went to school (as an adult -- as part of a long journey toward my BA) at the College of Charleston, near Emmanual AME. The places I am seeing and hearing about on the news were my "neighborhood". This was in the early 80's and believe me, the "War of Northern Aggression" was still being fought down there. They LOVED their Confederate history. And it was clear where the color lines were drawn all over town. It is a breathtakingly beautiful place and I loved living there, but.... It was at times very difficult to see the great divide between black and white, north and south still being subtly (and no so subtly) played out. I have a good friend in Columbia, a native of SC, who is a rabble-rouser and has been fighting to get that Confederate flag removed for years. Right now she is at the forefront of the protests. It needs to come down....but the flag is only a symbol of the problem.

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    4. Well said, Donna! I couldn't agree any more with your first comment if I had written it myself. And your second one is really interesting. The S.C. governor is going to speak on the protests about the flag soon. Cant wait to hear what she (?) has to say. I hope your rabble-rouser friend's work will eventually pay off. From what I'm hearing it will take 2/3 of the state house and 2/3 of the senate to change the law to allow it to be removed from public property. When they put it up during the Civil Rights Movement they purposely made it hard to be taken down for any reason.

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  2. It's shocking that a state can allow such racism ( the confederate flag ). I'm sorry to say, that our world will probably never be without racism because there will always be stupid humans in our world. As I get older, I seem to get more understanding towards things but racism is one thing that I won't ever understand.
    Have a wonderful day Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. It is shocking after all these years since the Civil War ended. It's become a banner of hate but the powers that be still think it's okay to fly. South Carolina isn't the only state that flies a Confederate flag on public property. The Confederate flag is part of the design of the state flag of Georgia. Thanks for weighing in!

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  3. Oh, and I forgot to thank you for the movie recommendation. I'm always looking for movies about my age-mates that present elders with respect. Sounds like a good one!

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    1. It is a good movie for women over 65!

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  4. My niece might be able to vacation in South Carolina sooner rather than later. State governor Haley just made an very elegant and all-inclusive speech about removing the flag. It's still going to be an uphill battle to get that 2/3 vote from their congress but the 10,000 marchers over the weekend sure might help light a fire under the lawmakers.

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  5. The movie sounds good. I, too, have experienced the difference between being an aunt and a great-aunt. I've never even met my great niece and great nephew who live in California. -Jean

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    1. I'm feeling very guilty since this last generation was born into the family that I didn't make more of an effort to socialize with my great-aunts when I had the chance. One of them left me some very special things just based on what my mom told her about my interests. She was a writer.

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  6. I love the concept that life can begin anew at 'any age'. But, this concept is so often linked to catching a new lover's eye. :::eyeroll::: Like it takes someone else's kiss to validate we're worth a great deal, and to kickstart our zest for living? After a few kisses you see he baggage.

    Heck, the way to start life anew is to kick out our own baggage. If there's a man who saunters by, check to see he has no baggage.

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    1. Boy, isn't that the truth! And we all know that true happiness has to come from within. "Starting anew" could be a move, a new job, new attitude, new vacation.

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    2. Quite right, GowiththeFlo. When will be over the Sleeping Beauty complex?

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    3. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty. A couple more generations, I think, before we move past their influence.

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  7. It will be such a relief when that flag comes down. It's about time. Good for your niece. You cannot go home again. That is true, but visiting can be nice.

    I want to see that movie. I heard Blythe Danner interviewed twice on Sirus radio. I like her so much and enjoy her work. I like Sam Elliott, too. We haven't been to a movie in ages. My DIL set up Net Flix and Amazon Prime on our television. We get so many good movies and TV series now. I'm sure "See You In My Dreams" will show up eventually. I'm glad you didn't give anything away in your description.

    As you can see, I'm way behind in reading, but I will catch up. I love your blog.

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    1. I was shocked to see how much Sam Elliott had gotten since I saw him last. He still looks good and that voice of his is to die for.

      I've heard good things about Amazon Prime and Net Flix. I should look into it.

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