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, August 2, 2015

Keeping up With the Widows at the Senior Hall



Whenever I go on a day trip organized through the senior hall I text my nieces that I’ll be out of town and that Levi the Mighty Schnauzer will be home alone, should I not come back. Nervous Nellie? Yes but if you saw the retired guys who drive our center’s 25 passenger bus you might be inclined to worry, too, that an accident could happen while we’re off gallivanting around the state and I don’t want Levi to suffer because no one knows I’m dead. I stopped going on the 12 to 14 hour trips where they still use the rented 50 passenger buses with younger drivers and on-board bathrooms because they wore me out and required Levi to go to the kennel for two nights and a day. The shorter, 5-8 hour trips I’ve opted for instead use our smaller bus but they make the same trip 3 or 4 days in a row to accommodate everyone who wants to go. There is a plus side of having a senior citizen driver, though; one of them has a bladder as small as mine and has been known to make unscheduled stops to pee. I always worry about not having potty breaks when needed. What can I say, I worry about details. 

When I texted my youngest niece on Friday that I got back home safe and sounds, she asked me if I had fun and I texted back, “Yes, but not as much as I wanted. The trip should have been an hour shorter.” We went to a 105 acre botanical garden and nature preserve known as Fernwood and we had too much time to wander on own after the lunch and the tour ended. The place had some nice features like a curious structure made of weeping willow branches, and the birds singing everywhere were incredible, but compared to our local sculpture garden the place just wasn’t worth spending a total of four hours on a bus. 

I got a great seatmate, though, for the trip. She was a woman who I met in book club when I first joined the center and who loves art as much as I do. But the most compelling conversation of the day took place over lunch at a table of six, two who were Holocaust survivors---90 and 91 years old who didn’t know each other before sitting down. The topic came up because the next senior tour is going to a Holocaust Museum. Both ladies had lost their entire families to Auschwitz and one of them ended up marrying another survivor of Auschwitz who she met in the Netherlands after the war. What a lesson in dignity it was to listen to their stories. It was one of the serendipitous things that sounds like a downer but it was actually an uplifting reminder about the power of grace that fills so much of our lives. With all the silly things we find to worry about we often forget what real hardship is all about.

Saturday I went to recycling. What a busy place that is! I always look for blue wine bottles when I go but I didn’t have good luck finding any this month. Mondays are better for finding bottles. I need a few more for my bottle tree. When I got home the newsletter for the September and October senior hall events was in the mailbox, so I sat right down and filled out my RSVP page. If you wait even a week, too many things get filled up and you have to go on a waiting list. I signed up for two lectures (one on the history of our city and the other about the islands in the Great Lakes), two luncheons, two short afternoon trips with lunch (one to the water treatment plant in town, the other to explore two historical churches in town), an off Broadway production with the Mannheim Steamrollers and to round out my RSVPs I signed up for two travelogues---one on Cuba, the other on Italy. All that for a total of ninety-one dollars and most of that was for the theater production.

What I didn’t sign up for was: a color tour up north to Michigan's wine country, a Pippin off Broadway musical revival, an out-of-town trips to see a Brenda Lee concert and a Buddy Holly tribute, tours of our famous ArtPrize event downtown (too wall-to-wall people for my tastes), two trips across the state to go to Ikea and a historical landmark around Detroit plus six or seven smaller things. I’ve been trying to wean myself off from having the senior hall be the center of my social universe but it’s hard when they offer so many great things to do at such cheap prices. It makes it hard to stay focused on moving to another township, closer to my family but where their senior hall is mostly about bingo and other old people stuff I won't like. ©

Note: The photo at the top is the willow branches structure at Fernwood. Very cool! Each one is connected by a doorway to another and they have no roofs. 

13 comments:

  1. I guess I'm already in a sort of senior setting with boating. Most of us are in our 60s, 70s, and 80s. I'm good with the boating scene. I can handle this kind of senior activities.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. RV clubs are like that, too. People who are retired just have the time for stuff like that and boating. Thankfully, there is a niche for us all. I'm just a little scared that if I move away from my senior hall I won't find another niche to bring socializing into my life.

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  2. How wonderful for those two ladies to meet! I hope a real, comforting friendship can grow between them. No one understands you more than if they have experienced the same things. WOW! I love the little Willow houses--reminds me of a hide-out in the woods I once had. All of your activities are so good for you. They would wear me out just thinking I had to do all those things. LOL

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    1. They did seem to have an instant comfort with one and other and both are going on the Holocaust Museum trip so I'm sure they'll have another opportunity to connect. I'm not going, by the way. Way too long for me plus I already went on a long mission to get educated about that whole period of history and I don't really want to revisit it.

      All the things I signed up for are spread out over two months but there is always one week in each month where most of the things I sign up for seems to happen---luncheon, day trip, movie and lunch club and Red Hats.

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  3. What a wonderful chance meeting that was. I had an extraordinary friend who survived the camps. She was only fourteen when they took her. She worked for the underground.She spoke five languages. Someone revealed her work. They took her one Sunday when she walked out of church.

    "With all the silly things we find to worry about we often forget what real hardship is all about."... What a true statement that is. I realize it more and more as I age, and it makes me more grateful.

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    1. Some of the stories are amazing, aren't they. And they need to be preserved to prevent that sort of inhumanity from happening again.

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  4. The older I get, the more I appreciate and am interested in listening to older people. And the older I get, the more I realize how interesting other people's stories are. It is typical that in my youth I had no interest in the stories of my grandparents and their friends and relatives. I was more interested in being a kid and as a kid I was self absorbed. So I don't know much of my family's stories. But neither did my mother because she used to tell me that her parents generation didn't want to talk about their past in "the old country". Now I understand but there is no longer anyone to ask! But I still listen to other people's stories.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I think most of us could say the same thing about not being interested in the stories of people in our grandparent's generation when we're young. It's just the way young people are. It's a shame because we all do have unique stories to tell. I guess that's what middle age is for. LOL

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  5. I'm very happy that you enjoyed your trip and having a good seatmate during the trip. My wife & I want to take a small vacation some place in Michigan but due to the low Canadian dollar it would effect us. I still have to pay my cruise in November and it's all in American dollars so that will really mess us up this year. So our summer means to stay right here in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada.
    Have a great day Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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  6. There was a time when I wanted to listen to the "adults" talk, but they shooed me off, saying, "go have a good time with your cousins." Well, I liked my cousins a lot and we did have a good time together, but I think the adults wanted to gossip about some relatives that weren't there and they thought I was too young to hear the details...

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    1. I'm sure a lot of that went on when I was a kid, too. Kids were shelters more back then. Now, they hear way too much, too early both at home and in the media.

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  7. Your Senior Center sounds darn near perfect. The trips and activities are interesting and varied. The Osher classes I take sometimes meet our our local Senior Center and I find the place depressing. It's old, rather institutional and not decorated to my liking. They mostly have Bingo and knitting clubs and the guys play pool. Yuk! I would be right there with you signing up for things. But my problem is the people I have to be with all day to do them. My introverted nature finds it exhausting to be with people I don't know well and/or don't really like. I've taken most of the Osher classes by myself or with one friend who goes occasionally. I go, get my class fix, and leave. I sound anti-social and I'm anything but...yet, I have my limits.

    I'd do the same as you if I had an animal companion to worry about. You're a good doggie mommy. :)

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    1. Thanks. I try to be a good doggie mommy. He's with me or waiting for me 24/7.
      I could live without the senior hall but not without a dog.

      My Osher catalog just came in the mail. I've got to pick out some things this weekend. They have one on women in the White House that I'm sure I'm taking. I know what you mean about being an introvert by nature. I think I am too. It is exhausting being with people you don't know to want to know. Our senior hall director could give classes on how to manage one. She's tripled our center activities and memberhip in a very short time.

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