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, October 24, 2015

Travel, Old Guys and Bling Boots



This was a busy week in the world of old people fun and games. On Wednesday I went to a Red Hat Society tea where we packed sixty bags of Halloween candy for our adopted nursing home residents. And once that was done they started planning a trip to Chicago for a weekend of Christmas shopping. They’re driving to Michigan City, Indiana, then taking a train into the city. I say “they” because I’m not interested in going. 1) Driving to and being in Chicago in the winter sounds more like punishment than pleasure---especially considering all the gutsy, no-fear drivers are older than I am; 2) I’m not a shopper, not to mention I have no one to buy a present for except the dog and he gets to pick out his own gift at the pet store where he also gets his picture taken with Santa. Don’t judge me. It’s a fund-raising tradition for the Humane Society; and 3) Levi the Mighty Schnauzer would have to spend four nights in a kennel and that would be costly on top of the other expenses. If I need any more excuses for not going to Chicago it’s the fact that I’d probably buy something I don’t need at a time when ‘downsizing’ is my current mantra for living a goal driven life. 

The next day I went to a travelogue about Italy, the ancestral home of my dad’s family. The travel escort company that sponsors these travelogues has grown quite a bit since last year when I started going to them and I understand why. They put together interesting programs. The speaker was a guy who had worked as a singer on a cruise ship for four years, traveling all over the world. What a great job for a single person. He worked nights and had his days free. In ports, he could take any of the side trips offered to the cruise ship passengers and if he wanted, he could earn extra money on the shore tours just by holding up a paddle that identified their group. He’d been to Italy four times and had some interesting experiences to share. “Where ever you go in the world,” he advised, “walk a few blocks away from ‘tourist row’ to explore and eat. You’ll get a whole different experience.” As I sat enjoying the slide show presentation I decided I will probably never go abroad but I sure love learning about foreign places and travel venues.

Friday I had an appointment at the hearing center for a yearly checkup. They usually just replace the tubes but this time they sent my aids back to the factory to check for battery drain. Too often I’ll put a new battery in and within five minutes it will be as dead as the bird the dog hauled into the house yesterday. I’ve gone through so many batteries, they gave me a box of forty for free and a battery tester. How cool is that! In the future I can play audiologist with my tester and determine if I got a bad batch of batteries or the aids need to go back to the factory. I have a full schedule of places to go next week while the aids are gone so I expect to spend a lot of time miss-hearing similar words. “You’re going to buy a beach tie?” “No, I’m going to buy a peach pie.”

Coming home from the hearing center, I stopped for lunch at the Guy-Land Cafeteria. The place never fails to entertain me and this stop was no different. I watched an elderly guy shuffle in, speaking to everyone he passed. When he got to me he said, “How are you today?” “Fine,” I replied, “and you?” “I’ll be a lot better when I get rid of this damn catheter.” Thankfully I didn’t have a mouth full of coffee because I would have sprayed it across the table. Too much information, guy! With his comment his shuffle---that I originally thought was due to arthritis---took on a whole new visual and try as I might I couldn't get it out of my head. This is the kind of place where you go through a line to order your food, get your beverages and pay. When your food is ready they call out a number. For some odd reason on this day instead of going up to the counter to pick up their food when numbers were called, some people in the place were yelling out, “Bingo.” Apparently, if you have a catheter, walker or vintage AARP card you can get food delivered to your table. But I was confused there for a while, thinking I’d wandered into a nursing home by mistake.

To round out my week of old people fun and games I had an appointment at the shoe store. It’s a specialty store for people with foot issues which I’ve had all my life. I needed a pair of snow boots. My old ones are close to a decade old. Naturally, the most expensive pair of boots in the place felt the best and are the ones I ordered. $240! Makes me wish I’d kept one of Don’s handguns to protect myself from boot robbers this coming winter. I did compromise and order black instead of my first choice of purple. I loved those purple boots and if I win the lotto I’m going back after them. The salesman called them ‘bling’ boots. Oh, yes, I would sell my soul for bling boots if I thought I could wear them out before I die. Big sigh here. When you can only afford one pair of boots, you need a neutral color. At least, I do. If I wore purple boots to a funeral or likewise solemn occasion I’d hear my dead husband’s voice inside my head and Don would not be happy. ©

18 comments:

  1. You sure are having fun! Purple boots? I have a red winter coat--I think purple boots would go well with the coat, don't you? Old guys are amusing, aren't they. I think they lose their "filter" right around 70 years old..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I was reading your reply I decided to call the store to see if I can change my order from the black to the purple. I have very few things that won't look good with purple. So I called and got a machine and left a message. I really loved those purple boots and I can keep my old boots to appease Don's voice in my head, should I have to go to a funeral. Funny, isn't it, that after all this time I'm still factoring in Don's values and compromising my decisions based on them. Do other widows do this? 42 year old habits are hard to break!

      Delete
  2. I'm still stuck on that old guy. Why in the world would he tell you that. Seriously, Bless his heart.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. Scritches to Levi. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not only me, he said it loud enough so half the people there heard him!

      Levi sends his condolences for your loss of Little Bit.

      Delete
  3. Good golly you are keeping yourself out there and busy! Good for you for choosing purple. Life is too short. I wish I could find a foot problem shoe store!! Is it national? Thanks for writing THREE times this week! Love this blog ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it's not a chain and there is only the one store in our area. All the foot doctors recommend that place. I know many people who go there with doctor's orders, me included. They only carry brands known for good support and have machines to tinker with shoes, inserts and you name it. Expensive but the two guys who run the place know what they're doing. I would bet if you have a foot doctor he/she would be in tune with which stores in your area are known for better fittings.

      Delete
  4. Well, you surely know that poem titled "When I'm Old, I Will Wear Purple." Good for you, for changing the order. As Rick Nelson sang a few years ago, "You know you can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself."

    I've read that there are portions of the brain that begin to function less well with dementia, and probably old age generally. Either that, or old people just don't give a flip. I've seen some classic examples of the filter not working one whit, and I never know whether to be embarassed, or just to laugh out loud. Fun story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a copy of that poem and love it. I've never here the Rick Nelson quote you shared but it sure speaks the truth.

      I do believe in the 'filter' theory but I'll bet you're right about older people just not caring anymore when it comes to saying things we never would have said when younger. I think laughter is the best reaction. Life is too short to not see the humor around us.

      Delete
  5. Something you mentioned above as one of your reasons for not going on the Chicago trip struck a chord with me...driving with other people who might not be aware of declining driving skills. I normally carpool with two women to band practice and I have decided that I am going to drive on my own in the future. One of the women is beginning to scare me a little and most of the time that I am in the passenger seat of her car I have my eyes glued to the road and my fists clenched. I know that my instincts are no longer as good as they were and I am not as comfortable driving as I was years ago but if someone else makes me feel tense, I think I would rather be at the wheel,
    I actually would like to go to Chicago and I don't mind doing it in the winter because I would like to spend time at the Art Institute. I have only been to Chicago once and I really liked the architecture and the museums that I did visit but I didn't get to the Art Institute. The trouble is that it is not easy to get from here (Northern NY) to there. I would have to go from Syracuse but that is a two and a half hour drive south and into the snow belt so not a good idea in the winter!!
    Regards
    Leze

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you shared that! I would rather drive than be a passenger with some of my older friends and it's good to know I'm not alone in that. But I won't volunteer to drive in the winter months, especially that far! You could luck out have not have too bad of weather for the drive but you could also be going in a nightmare.

      I would more likely go to Chicago if the Art Institute was involved. I've been there three times but it was a long time ago and I loved that place. So far, none of the bus trips from the senior hall that go to Chicago do anything but go to plays and restaurants and the Red Hats are into marathon shopping. One day I hope to see the institute listed as a bus trip from our local sculpture garden. So I'm not giving up of someday going.

      Delete
    2. I would definitely prefer to drive! I sit in the passenger seat fists and teeth clenched. Some of my friends truly drive too damn fast and recklessly. I don't know if they think they are still young or what, but really, being honked at and swerved around should be a clue. I notice I tend to be a much more cautious driver,but I'm not a danger yet. I go the speed limit but my sons complain I take forever to make a left turn -- especially since my accident a year ago when I was at fault for turning left in front of an oncoming car. I still have PTSD about that. Yes, that makes me sound like I'm losing my driving skills too, but I think it was just the odds -- that's my first serious accident in nearly 50 years of driving.

      Delete
    3. A serious accident would make anyone more a cautious.driver. Being careful doesn't translate to losing skills. Left hand turns are the worst and I will go out of my way to avoid them at intersections.

      I used to know an ambulance driver and the way she'd talk about the gorge she saw---she loved it---the more disgusted I was. I don't want to die that way.

      Delete
  6. My ex-mother-in-law went through a period when she was on multiple medications, one of which, I think, was valium. Once we went to a mall and she was driving. It took her three tries to get into a straight-in parking space. When she turned off the ignition, I turned to her and said, "Betty, if you don't get off those pills I'm never going to let you drive me anywhere again.' She did quit taking the pills and was back to her "good driving" self soon after. Although it was really hard for me to say that to her, I'm glad I did. It may have saved her life, my life, or some innocent bystander's life...

    I've been to Chicago in the winter, although it was many years ago, and would never do it again. They don't call it the "Windy City" for nothing. The gales from Lake Superior are horrible! And from what I've seen of their weather the past few winters, the snow is horrific, too. I'm not a shopper either, although sometimes I like to look around, but I can't walk for long periods of time now, so it's just not enjoyable anymore. I think you made the right decision.

    I hope I haven't totally lost my "filter" but I'm more apt to say what's on my mind at my age than when I was younger. I do keep personal details private most of the time -- at least I wouldn't mention a catheter to strangers (I hope)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really hard to tell an older person it's time for them to quit driving. At least your mother-in-law got straighten out and go back to driving! Saving lives really is all the reason needed. I think some families don't speak up because they realize it's going to involve them helping out their elders more often.

      I've seen enough weather videos of Chicago winters to know my R.H. sisters are crazy for wanting to go in the winter. It could be stressful for any age.

      I can sense my filter isn't as strong as it used to be. Hopefully, I won't be mentioning anything under my underwear when the filter goes completely. LOL

      Delete
  7. I need one of those specialty shoe stores. I don't really have problems, but I have a very hard time finding shoes that feel good. Shoe shopping equals misery.

    I don't blame you for not wanting to go to Chicago in the winter. We visited my son in April when he lived there. It snowed the last day we were there. The wind was so bad that the snow was coming down in a slant. What blisteringly cold experience that was. This Virginia girl is not up for that kind of weather.

    H is making noises about getting a hearing aid. My brother mentioned it when he was here, too. I guess we're all getting there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The hearing aid jump really is a passage of life that none of want but usually realize afterward that they do help us interact with others in a good way. Nothing makes you seem old than not being able to follow conversations correctly.

      I've always lived in the snow belt and I just can't understand why anyone would plan a trip in our unpredictable weather. But then I spent a lot of years listening closely to weather reports because it effected our work so much.

      Delete
  8. I grew up 40 miles west of Chicago and lived in Oak Park (suburb) for seven years early in our marriage. Windy, cold, snow, traffic. I actually still love Chicago, but the reason we left the Midwest to pursue careers elsewhere (ended up in Washington) was the winters. Don't blame you for not wanting to venture there in winter with questionable drivers. But I agree the Art Institute is worth finding a way -- in the summer! Or maybe Sept-Oct were my favorite months there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The trouble with my Red Hat Chapter---in my opinion---is they've been taking two trips a year for over a decade with no younger members coming in. They don't realize there is a difference between being 60-70 and 70-80 when it comes to driving.

      Delete