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 26, 2015

Old Arguments and the New Cuba



Before my husband and I met, he bought an old Victorian house that had been split into four apartments that shared two bathrooms. He owned it for more years than I like to remember because it was a lot of work to keep it up and that’s not counting all the remodeling we did to add two more bathrooms teaching ourselves plumbing, electrical wiring and sheetrock application along the way. Once when we painted the outside we hired three 15-16 year old fatherless boys to help and they ended up to be factors in an infamous fight that Don and I had. They were kids from the neighborhood whose mothers---for various reasons---didn’t pay a lot of attention to them. From the time they were 9-10 years old every time Don was outside working on a piece of equipment the boys would be there watching and getting what we nicknamed their “Fifteen with Father” talks. I can’t tell you how many times ‘the three musketeers’ would be in the back of our yellow convertible being our shadows during Don’s and my early years together. The beach, carnivals, car shows, music-in-the park, the rodeo and the races---we introduced them to a lot of things they’d never done before.

Back to the Victorian house: One day we were all busy bees painting on the exterior when Don sent me to pick up lunch for the crew. When I returned, I parked the car opposite the driveway. No big deal. It was a busy city street and parking was at a premium. Later on, Don backed his truck out of that driveway and hit my car. A normal person might have apologized. A normal person might have taken in the fact that I was in a legal parking space before he started chewing me out. “Why did you park there?” he yelled. “You know you’re going to get nailed when you park opposite a driveway!” I pointed out that HE was at fault for the accident---that I wasn’t even in the car. But he still had a full head of steam and when I asked him why he was yelling he waved his arm towards the teens who were watching the exchange and shouted, “To teach these boys where not to park a vehicle!” 

“That’s just great!” I was yelling by then, too. “All you managed to teach them is it’s okay to yell at a woman for something you yourself did! Is that really the lesson you want them to learn?” And just like that, the steam left Don’s head and he got a look on his face akin to that of a little boy who’d just got caught teasing an alley cat into a frenzy. Game. Set. Match. The little woman won one for womankind when Don then told the boys that I was right and “a guy shouldn’t take his frustrations out on a woman.” Don would have made a good father. He wasn’t perfect but he was quick to admit when he was wrong and he rarely forgot that the three musketeers were like sponges who took in everything he said and did. He was a role model by default.

Change of topic: I have no plans to travel to Cuba but I went to this month’s 'We Travel' event anyway. It was one on the most interesting hours I’ve spent in a long time and before it was over I was longing to be the type of person who is adventurous enough to sign up for trips like that. One of the things I learned is that although the country has been recently opened up for travel between the U.S. and Cuba, there are many regulations and restrictions on who can go and why. People who have family there or who once lived there can go. Journalists can get in if they engage in interviews on a daily basis and average people, like those in the audience, can get in if they are take part in a program called People-to-People---cultural and educational exchanges. You have to sign a contract that you’re going to interact with the Cubans each day from nine to four and keep a journal of how much time you spent where and what you talked about. 

The company who organizes these cultural and educational exchanges schedule three-four events a day and they sound interesting. You go in groups of twenty-four and you learn about the Cubans as they learn about Americans. The interactions take place at tobacco or cocoa farms, cigar factories, Hemingway’s house, with a baseball team and the American Car Club. You visit schools and historical landmarks that go back to the days of Columbus. Art, music and dance are a big part of the exchanges, too. One thing that I thought was cool is in the cigar factories they have someone who reads the news to the workers while they work. The speaker said that travel to Cuba could close back up depending on who gets elected next time and if it doesn’t American investments into the country is going to change its character and charm. In other words, the ideal time to go is now. Sometimes I wish I was younger with a better working blander, and seeing that 'We Travel' presentation was one of those times. Oh, well, maybe in my next life…. ©

14 comments:

  1. I didn't know about the restrictions. I'm not a very adventurous traveler. My son loves it and has been to places most Americans would never consider. He recently told me that he didn't understand people who have the means but choose not to travel. Now he has three little ones and travel isn't as easy or affordable as it once was, but they still get away occasionally.

    Your retelling of your argument with Don is hilarious and revealing. It's never easy to admit we're wrong. I bet those boys missed you guys when you sold the house.

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    1. They all grew up and moved from the neighborhood before we sold the house. One of the boys moved to Georgia with his mother in his twenties but would call Don on all holidays and would visit when he came up here.One boy we got close with him and his wife and kids but he wouldn't visit or call Don after his stroke so we all drifted apart---he had a terrible fear of sick people because of his childhood experiences losing his father to illness at 8 and his mother in and out of mental hospitals her entire life. The third boy got in a lot of trouble in his 20s. He had a really screwed up childhood and anger issues and it took him until his late 30s to get his act together. After which he moved out of state and we lost track of him.

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  2. Your hubby acted just like my father did. Nothing was ever his fault and was always someone else that did wrong and usually my mother. Glad your hubby could admit when he was wrong. My father never did.

    Cuba is not someplace I want to go and I didn't know about all the restrictions. I don't care for restrictions when I travel. Not appealing one bit.

    Have a fabulous weekend. ☺

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    1. It was not a common occurrence for Don to blame someone else for his mistakes which is one reason this day sticks out in my memory. We were both good at admitting when we were wrong and I loved that about our relationship.

      It suppose it could be a little scary to be in a country where they restrictions could be slapped back on while you are there. They said it's a very safe place, that the people love Americans but still....it would be hard to trust the governments not to change their minds. I was really impressed by what I saw.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your remembrances, good and not so perfect, with us. I love learning how other people live.

    I'm learning about this bladder leakage problem since the surgery. Not sure it was the anesthetic, the medicines I'm taking or something entirely unrelated. It's a darned embarrassing nuisance.

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    1. That must be a nuisance! I didn't have it with surgery. My issue is I've always had a small bladder and have to find a bathroom more often than most people, so group travel is more stressful.

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  4. My brother once told me that he realized he was "like Dad" when something went wrong and he found himself looking around for someone to blame! (Maybe it's one of those traits that's linked to the Y chromosome ;-) ) I could imagine traveling to Cuba sometime in the next couple of years. This does seem like the perfect time to go. -Jean

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    1. From what I saw at the presentation I'm sure you'd love the Person-to-Person program. They visit schools and exchange ideas with professors, choirs where you sing with them, learn dances plus lots of historical places to see, and it isn't hard to find Cubans who speak English, they said. Part of the time you stay in what we would call Bed and Breakfasts and the other part in modern hotels.

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  5. I have had a small bladder all my life, which caused my Dad much consternation and of course, when we were traveling, I got excited about it, which caused my bladder to over react! I just buy Always X-Long panty liners by the case load!

    I have been in Key West--once--that is close to Cuba as I'd want to go and really, never want to go to Key West ever again either. I love the North West.

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    1. My dad carried a coffee can in the car for me. LOL Did you ever have to go through so-called "bladder stretching" where you had to hold it until you cried? I was 10 (?). That didn't last long. My parents didn't like doing that to me.

      I've never been to Key West but I know people who love it down there. I don't really know much about it.

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    2. When I was young, there was a little potty with a handle in the back seat. Mother could open the car door and dispose of my bladder "issues" all the while Daddy was driving down the road. No bladder stretching for me at that age, but at an older age I tried it. Didn't seem to work very well.

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    3. Oh my gosh, that's funny. At least my dad pulled over and let me pee next to the car. Bladder stretching didn't work for me either. An old wives tale, I think.

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  6. I know several people who travel to Cuba regularly, and love the country. Some are European, and some truck up to Canada and go from there. Maybe you should sign up for one of Otto's photographic workshops. His photos of the country are really interesting.

    I wouldn't want to go, myself, because I wouldn't want to put one dollar into that economy. I have very strong feelings about the conditions there. One of my customers was raised in Havana. His father was killed by Castro following the Bay of Pigs invasion. They drained his body of blood before shooting him. Nice people. There still are significant restrictions on people, far too many political prisoners, and so on. I'm not saying others shouldn't go, but I wouldn't.

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    1. Very interesting and it sure is understandable why you have strong feelings about not spending money there. My mom's blood drained out into her body cavity until it killed her and a doctor told us it's one of the worst ways to die. I don't know how your friend could ever get over having that done on purpose with her father.

      I think Otto's photography captures what it is that intrigues me about Cuba----all the color! Thanks for sharing that link.

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