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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Walk in the Woods



Friday I pulled up at a red light and when I glanced over at the truck waiting next to me, the 40-something driver winked at me! I smiled, thinking at first that I knew him. I didn’t but he brighten my day and he knew it. If more guys understood the power of winking at a woman, they’d practice in front of a mirror until they've perfected the flirty art form. Growing up, my older brother had a friend who winked at me every time I saw him and I got so tongued around him, I couldn’t talk. He was a Native American---we called them Indians in those days---and it didn’t help that he was movie-star handsome with high cheek bones, beautiful baby-smooth skin and dark, dancing eyes. The one and only time he tried to kiss me our dog bite his ankle. Between the dog and my brother threatening to fingerprint any boy who came to the house to pick me up for a date, it’s a wonder I went on any at all.

I was on the way to meet my Movie and Lunch Club when I encountered the winker. Can you believe it, as the eighteen of us sat chit-chatting in the theater lobby, another 40-something flirty guy approached us and started asking questions! He was a people person but he was also the promotions director of the theater chain. He asked if he could take our picture and tell our story in an industry publication. We complied and he left us with a promise to send our senior center a copy of the photo and some free passes. 

The movie we saw was a comedy-adventure, A Walk in the Woods with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. It’s a true story about a celebrated but out-of-shape travel writer and a long-lost friend/recovering alcoholic who attempted to hike the 2,100 miles-long Appalachian Trail. The minute the opening credits rolled saying the movie was based on a book by Bill Bryson I remembered reading it. Bill had come back to America to retire after living aboard for several decades and when asked why he wanted to take this rugged trip at his age he said, “I’m tired of life being about ailments and funerals. I want to push myself.” He made the decision to go after sticking his foot in his mouth at a funeral where a widow thanked him for coming and he told her it was his pleasure to be there. Oops! The widow’s facial expressions in the film and the classic nature of the screw-up made it a great laugh line. We widows have all been there, done that with people saying things that were better left unsaid.

The movie has lots of things to laugh about and two dialogue exchanges stuck in my mind long enough to get home and look them up: 1) Nolte’s character Steven said: “You know what I look for in a female these days? A heartbeat and a full set of limbs.” Bryson answered back, “I’ve got to hand it to you, Steven. Most people lower their standards as they age. You’ve raised yours.” The second line I liked came after Bryson was telling Steven about the rock formations and Steven wanted to know how he knew all that stuff. Bryson replied, “There are these things called books, it’s like television for smart people.” This movie is the closest I’ll ever get to the Appalachian Trail and there were some great panoramic views. It isn’t meant to be an advocacy film for wilderness conservation, but it is all the same. The fragile nature and beauty of the Trail was hard to ignore even with two strong actors on the screen. 

After the movie we had lunch at a place I go often enough to have a rewards card. Bingo! My card was full and my chicken quesadilla was on the house. What a wonderful day I was having….until I drove away from the restaurant and something made me think of the very last words I said to my husband. Maybe it was a song on the radio, maybe the restaurant itself triggered the thought since it was one of my husband’s favorites. Maybe it was survivor’s guilt for having such a good time. Whatever it was that brought the melancholy moment that threatened to take the joy of the day away, I fought back. My eyes got moist but no tears materialized. I experienced that jaw-tightening thing that happens to widows when you know you can’t allow yourself to wade back into the darkness. I hate when that happens. A fleeting, bad memory should never haunt a good day.

When I got home I grabbed the dog and we went for a walk on the White Pines Trail. It might not be as pretty or as challenging as the Appalachian Trail but I like the fact that instead of bears we encountered milk cows. And I liked the fact that I spent the walk trying to remember all the men I've encountered in my life who were winkers. ©

 "They say the Appalachian Trail is like life. You don't know what's going to come next 
but you give it your best shot." 
Bill Bryon

17 comments:

  1. So you were having a fabulous day and then felt guilty because of that. I get that. Guilt is a horrible thing.

    Have a fabulous day. My best to Levi. :)

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    1. Yup, I've had that happen before and think maybe it happens to a lot of widows. Anyone agree?

      Levi is a sweetie.

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  2. Sounds like a good movie. I should go. I need to get out more, that's for sure!

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    1. We all liked it and it was good to see older people taking the lead roles.

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  3. Yup. I get it. 18 months into widowhood. Had a rare, good day, socializing, but came home & cried because I missed my husband of 37 years, and wished he'd been with me to have fun. Socializing is good, but house is empty when one gets home. Will check out the movie - love Bryson's books!

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    1. I'm three years and nine months out and I still catch myself saying to myself how much Don would have loved this or that. But I can tell you that it does get easier as time goes on.

      I liked the book version of the movie a lot but I don't remember it being as funny as the movie version. Robert Redford has aged well or maybe he's had a gifted plastic surgeon. I used to have the biggest crush on him.

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    2. I laughed out loud so much at that book ... we had to pull over to stop crying!

      I think all of his books should be movies!!!

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    3. I remember thinking after reading the book that I should look up his others, but I forgot. Need to put it back on the to-do list.

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  4. It's been so long since I read Bill Bryson's books that I've nearly forgotten them. I'll be glad when I can move to a "civilized" place where the library actually has more books than I do. I'm drawing up a list of books I intend to re-read. Also a list of movies to look for on Netflix -- "A Walk in the Woods" sounds like one both my husband and I would enjoy. My husband is jealous of Robert Redford, but, after a few disparaging remarks, he'll still enjoy the movie.

    In another life, Jean, you and I would have been great friends. Except that I'm a smoker, although probably if I could do it all again, that would be one of the things that I would change...

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    1. We do seem to have a lot in common. I don't doubt that, about being friends if we lived closer except for the smoking part. I lived with second hand smoke with my dad and then Don and I used to have a lot of asthma attacks that sent me to the hospital. After Don quit and restaurants started banning smoking, I have not had an attack since.

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  5. I can't wait to see that movie! I also think People should have a Boomer Issue ... only with names we recognize ...

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    1. They do. It's called AARP. That's a joke but their magazine is pretty good. A PEOPLE style magazine for Boomers probably would be successful.

      Glad to see you online!

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  6. I didn't know that was made into a movie. I read the book a long time ago. And I have hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail (also a long time ago!). So I should see the movie.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I even saw the previews and didn't connect the movie to the book until I actually saw it spelled out on the screen. LOL

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  7. I'm behind in reading your blog. Glad I started with this post. How joyful! And instructive that sorrow can intrude on joy and be acknowledged and then set aside for the time being. A couple of my friends just saw this movie and loved it too. It's on my list. Thanks for sharing your day with us!

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    1. Donna, I'm always glad when people come here to read, especially those like you who do it more than once or twice. :)

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