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, July 5, 2015

The Holiday Random Act of Kindness



Friday morning, the 3rd of July, I went to the blood lab to get my thyroid re-checked but they were closed. Then I went to the township offices to pay my summer taxes. Closed. Third stop: a new real estate office, opened by the guy who walked us through the building process when we moved here in 2001. Closed. At the bank I tried to see the investment guy but he took the day off. I was batting zero. My bad. No scratch that phrase. I hate it. I should have known all the natives would be leaving town the day before Independence Day. Then I went to Lowe’s knowing nothing short of a hurricane, forest fire or flood would close their doors so close to a holiday known for backyard warrior projects among those of us left behind in the city. I scored some patio stones and half price geraniums. 

Then I took myself out to an early lunch at an actual sit-down and eat restaurant. No drive-through this time. I was in the mood to be a lady of leisure. I sat with my back to the wall doing my best imitation of Hemingway as I jotted notes about my fellow diners. Straight in front of me in my section was a table of four teens showing off the tiny charms in their Origami Owl necklaces. What a great way to lure guys to within kissing distance. I made a mental note to wear mine more often. To my right side was a sad looking guy with a big belly and a vacant stare, and next to him was an older couple who didn’t speak much. When the guy in the couple finally did I figured out why they weren’t conversing in public. He had one of those voice boxes that makes you sound like R2D2, the astromech droid from Star Wars. It was loud and caught everyone’s attention. On my left side was a young, dejected looking mother with two children under three who sat alone while her husband was outside talking on the phone. To his credit, just after they placed their order and before he left to use the phone he kissed her on the lips. A sweet, I-love-you-babe kind of kiss. Still, I felt sorry for her.

It’s the kind of restaurant that leaves the check on the table when they bring the food---my kind of service because waiting for bills churns up childhood feelings of being made to stay at the table until bedtime if I hadn’t cleaned my plate which happened on Thursday liver nights and when ever my mother cooked orange vegetables. When I finished eating at the restaurant I moved my plate to the side, on top of the check, and when I went to get it the dishes and the check were gone. I flagged down a waitress and I told her that whoever took my dishes away also took the check with them. Off she went to look for my bill. She couldn’t find it and by then another waitress got in the act to help her look. Finally, a third waitress came over and told the rest of us that my bill was paid by another customer. I was so shocked that all I could say was, “What? Why would anyone do that? Wow!” I might be articulate in print but in real-life situations, not so much. 

“Because,” the waitress replied, “There are some really nice people in the world.” And with that my lips puckered up and tears rolled down my cheeks. Jeez! The waitresses all took off like roaches under a light, fearing, I’m sure, that I'd start sobbing out loud. 

As I drove home I kicked myself for not telling the waitress to thank my benefactor if she sees him or her again. I hadn’t spoken to any of the other customers or even so much as exchanged eye contact or smiles. It was a mystery. I figured it wasn’t the table of teens who paid for my breakfast or the mother with the babies. R2S2 had his back to me so I eliminated him and his wife. That left the sad guy with the pot belly who caused me to cry. Or maybe it was someone from another section all together.

Those tears came completely by surprise and made me wonder if I wasn’t more lonely and alone than I would have guessed, had I thought about my state of mind earlier in the day. Long holiday weekends, after all, are hard on most widows. Regardless of what brought the tears on it was the second time this year I’ve been the recipient of a random act of kindness. That means one of two things: 1) I do, indeed live in a good neighborhood or 2) I look so pathetic out in public that others think I need cheering up. My money is on choice number one…though there is a third possibility that just occurred to me. Maybe one of my fellow diners actually thought I could be a budding Hemingway and he/she just wanted to give me something colorful to write about. ©

18 comments:

  1. I opt for # 1 AND # 3. That random and anonymous act of kindness is in print! Wow, Ms Hemingway!

    Have you considered this, reason # 4 ? That fate is telling you to treat yourself more often to sit-down restaurant meals, where unscripted encounters happen? # 4 gets my vote.

    I tried to do business on Friday, too, with the same result. Oy. It rarely dawns on this retired lady that days around a holiday are coveted days off. Oh! What good fortune we have!

    Widow hug to you this holiday weekend. : -)

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    1. I don't know about #4. I embarrassed myself with the tears and will have to wait awhile to go back there. It's a new restaurant and I really liked it too. I was there two weeks ago as well when they opened their doors. The other random act of kindness happened across the street at Starbucks so it could have even been the same person who has fun doing them in the neighborhood.

      Hope you had a good holiday!

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  2. Maybe a 5th idea. People are just good. I've done myself. As I paid for my coffee at Tim Horton, I informed the girl at the window that I would like to pay for the person behind me. It was Christmas time and I saw the mother behind in the car had a couple of children . Her bill was $10 so I paid for her. I will never know who lady was but I know I felt really great driving home and I hope it left her with a smile. Yes, I think it was a good person that paid your bill Jean. SMILE my friend, there are great people in this world.
    Have a wonderful Sunday Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I'm sure you made that mother's day with your random act of kindness. It puts a bound to your step to be reminded that people are generally good and kind and caring.

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  3. Hubby went to his pharmacy Friday and it was closed. It's a 12 mile drive too. Oh well.

    Paying it forward is a wonderful thing to do. Hubby and I have done it many times. Why? We just do.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. When you're retired it's hard to remember that holidays change the work schedules of others. LOL

      I will be looking for an opportunity to pay it forward. It will be fun.

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  4. It really is fun to give like that. I don't have that opportunity too much anymore, but did back in the day. Now I have to think of ways that don't involve money. It is very difficult for me to receive. I want to know who and why, instead of just accepting. You can now pass it on to someone else. Maybe the next time you go through a drive-thru, you can pick up the tab for the person in the car behind you?
    Over on this side of the state a lot of businesses give their people a 3-day weekend off--so Friday would have been one of those days. If the 4th had been on Sunday, they would have Monday off. GM workers always get those holidays like that too.

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    1. Same on this side of the state only I just "forgot" it was a holiday...part of my plan to stay sane over a holiday. LOL

      Receiving is harder than giving, isn't it.

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  5. Hi Jean -- Friday, July 3rd, was the official Holiday, that's why so many places were closed. When a Holiday falls on a Saturday it is officially deemed a holiday on Friday. If it falls on a Sunday, it is officially on Monday. Just thought you'd like to know. That's why banks etc. were closed.

    Random acts of kindness -- for sure can bring me to tears too! I do believe it is because we ARE lonely. Ann in IL

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    1. I didn't know that about the "official" Holidays. I can't believe I didn't!

      I agree on the tears. I like to think I'm doing great now that I have 31/2 years under my widowhood belt, but am I so much quicker to tear up now than in my past life which tells me that loneliness isn't far under the surface even when it's not on my conscious thoughts.

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  6. I do think that looking like a "little old lady" may trigger protective acts of kindness in many people. Maybe we remind them of their mothers. Maybe they just underestimate our independence and competence. I don't know, but I'm considering this one of the benefits of getting older. I've been making daily trips to Home Depot this weekend because the paving stones for my patio and walkway project are on sale. But because it's a holiday weekend, Home Depot was short-staffed and didn't have anyone available to help me load the paving stones into my car. No matter! Random strangers just keep showing up out of nowhere and offering to wheel my heavy cart of paving stones to my car or to load the paving stones into the car for me. I'm happy for the help and figure I don't have to tell them that when I get home, I'm going to unload those paving stones and build the patio and walkway with them all by myself. :-) -Jean

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    1. You're probably right about the reasons a stranger would buy lunch for an older woman like me or you. I'm not surprised by your Home Depot experience getting help with loading stones. When my husband was alive people were always offering to help me load and unload his wheelchair. A few even offered to help me transfer him into the chair. Lots of nice people in the world.

      I got my little project of patio stones done yesterday and I thought of you. I don't think I would survive a project as large as yours!

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  7. Years ago when living in Boston I took my son, who was then around ten (quick calculation...it must have been 20 years ago!) to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox play his favorite team...the Toronto Blue Jays, he was kitted up in Blue Jays shirt hat and pants. We got to the box office and found out the game was sold out. We stood there disappointed and thinking about what to do when a man approached us. I have two tickets for the game and I would like to give them to you,,.no for free,,,my treat. It was sweet. (Well, I guessed that he was going to try and sell them and I know it is illegal but it was sweet that he decided to give them to us instead of possibly getting caught hawking the tickets!)
    So maybe it wasn't because you looked lonely or old. Maybe it was just a sweet gesture!
    And I, too, had to be told that it was a Friday holiday, I thought all weekend holidays go to Mondays!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. That was a nice gesture, getting the tickets. Some one should create a Facebook page or app for people who've received random acts of kindness in different cities. It would be fun to read through them.

      I'm still surprised that Monday is not part of the holiday weekend.

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  8. I cry easily...especially over those kinds of bittersweet moments that feel so tenderheartedly. Random acts of kindness, memories of so many people and experiences in the past, certainly thoughts of my grown sons as children and how fast time goes by. I've decided never to let these times of tearful gratitude embarrass me. Instead, I am grateful to have a heart that swells with appreciation, love, and joy -- so much so that tears flow. Great story; lovely act of caring; heartfelt response to a kindness.

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    1. Thanks! The son-I-wish-I-had cries easy too. His wife teases him about it but they are usually tears of joy or appreciation and are really endearing to me. He's man enough not to let it bother him, either which is double endearing.

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  9. I love the third possibility. Kind of romantic. What a great idea to make notes on your fellow diners. I always think of that after I'm in the restaurant and have no pen or paper. Who could ever be caught without pen or paper in their purse? I can't seem to keep it in my car either. I just put them in there the other day, after being caught without them when I needed to add to a list. The last time we went to Williamsburg, I wanted to make a few notes on fellow diners. I remember a couple who never spoke. They were both on cell phones. But I was stuck without pen and paper.
    How nice that someone paid for your lunch. Years ago, back in the eighties, my cousin and I were going across a bridge in MD. She paid the toll for the car behind us. That was the first time I'd heard or thought of that.

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    1. I like number three too because it feeds the notion that people out in public can read me and actually get it right. Not that I'm ever going to be a Hemingway...but the writer/observer part, not wanting to let thoughts get away. I have found that if I just tear out the pages I want to bring to my computer instead of bringing the whole tablet I'm able to keep the notebook in my purse.But I always regard it when I leave my purse in the car on occasion because I do love to make notes if there is something of interest.

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