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, November 7, 2015

Friendships and Crime Waves

An old friend moved to Florida a few years back to care for her ailing parents and she was up visiting the rest of her family this month. We had a three hour lunch on Wednesday and that made me long even more than I already did for a good friend who lives near-by. I have three very good friends who live in other states but the distance, of course, changes things. The warmth, laughter and caring about each other is still there, and when any of us gets a chance to visit, talk on the phone or email it’s always welcome and a good reminder of how important friends are and will always be in the grand scheme of things. But you can’t hug a long-distance friend. You can’t look into each others eyes and know when there is something one or the other needs to talk about. Yada, yada, yada. Since Don passed away---talk about putting distance in a relationship---it’s been impossible to fill the emptiness of not having someone to share life’s little details with which made lunch on Wednesday all the more special. We talked. We shared. We laughed and even shed a tear or two.

My Florida friend was married to one of Don’s oldest and best friends and I’ve known her probably thirty years, but we became closer after Don’s stroke. Anyone who’s gone through living with a severely disabled person knows there are friends who will run in the opposite direction when a disability comes into your life and those who will run towards you. She ran towards us and that’s more uncommon than you might think with family and long-time friends. Disabilities, divorces and widowhood change the dynamics of relationships. It's just the way the cookie crumbles. Some friendships fall off the radar, so treasure the ones that stay put.

Sadly, my friend and her husband are divorced now but we managed to stay friends with both of them. That wasn’t easy in the beginning because he went through a short period where he thought we should pick a side. Thankfully, they found their way back to being on civil terms again and I do my best to not carried tales back and forth between them. It works. But since she moved, I miss her can-do attitude and the ease in which conversation flows between us. She’s had a tougher life than mine but you’d never know it, given the way she powers through adversities. It saddens me that I only get to see her once a year and on Facebook. Good old Facebook.

Speaking of moving, unless you want to scare yourself out of moving, don’t ever look at a crime mapping site for the areas where you’re thinking about moving. I'll look at the crime mapping for where I live two-three times a year and it never turns up much of anything. This week I was killing time while waiting for my irrigation guy to show up to do my fall shut-off when I fed the address of a condo community I like into a crime mapping search box. There’s a registered sex offender living within the place. Great! I’d be walking the dog and wondering which friendly guy got caught doing heavens knows what to land him on the list. I kept feeding addresses into the site and at one point I learned there are over 1,600 registered sex offenders in the greater metropolis which, I guess, isn’t so bad considering the population but they sure seemed to be ganged up in my old neighborhood. You can see break-ins, assaults, drug busts and robberies on crime mapping sites, too, and comparing my current neighborhood with others south of town I realize how safe this area truly is. I tend to think of all bedroom communities to a center city as being safe but they certainly aren’t all equally as safe. What was an eye opener!

Back to friendships. The divorced guy in the couple mentioned above is talking seriously about moving to a state where he doesn’t know a single person. I don’t blame him for wanting to leave the Snow Belt behind but it sure isn’t in my wheelhouse to do something like that. I think he's under-estimating how important family and friends are in our lives---how much we all help each other out from time to time, how much joy we get out of just getting together for a few laughs. He gets credit for being gutsy though. I’m driving myself crazy researching an area I’ve lived in my entire life. I’d be in a loony bin if I had to research communities in the entire Bible Belt. His plan is to just go and roam the South (all by himself) until he sees something he likes. No research. No planning. If it were me, I’d worry I’d end up in the morgue, an unidentified victim of a crime, and no one would know I was missing to come claim my body. Five years from now it will be interesting to compare the outcome of our diverse methods of moving on with our lives. Good old Facebook, bless its heart, will keep us in touch.  ©


20 comments:

  1. I can't imagine moving to a place where I know no one, especially at out age. What if he gets sick and needs someone? And that spontaneous stuff isn't all it's cracked up to be. ... again... especially at our age.

    We had good friends who divorced. He moved to Iowa, so that was that. She is still my close buddy. Like your friend, her life has been much more difficult than mine. I don't know how she does it.

    Now you've got me wondering about our crime rate. I'll have to check it out.

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    1. Exactly, my friend recently had surgery and needed rides to and from the hospital and doctor visits until he got cleared to drive. He thinks he'll be able to hire everything he might need like that. Might work but elderly people without anyone to look out for them can also end up being taken advantage of, too.

      It's romantic to think you can travel the country like a geriatric version of John Steinbeck in "Travels with Charley" and when I was younger that appealed to me. Heck, that's the way Don and I did approached vacation time. But some of the hair raising things we got into I wouldn't want to repeat at my age.

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  2. "Some friendships fall off the radar, so treasure the ones that stay put." I have been finding this out for myself recently, and will be taking your advice.

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    1. I think all of us take our friends for granted from time to time. We were the recipient of so many acts of kindness after Don's stroke that at the five year mark we made a list of everyone we wanted to thank and we threw a party. We called it a Thank God, I'm Alive Party. It made such a difference in our lives to formally acknowledge that turning point that I'm seriously considering do another after I get thoroughly settled in new place. I'd probably call it a Thank God for Friends party.

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  3. Friendship? You wonder what friendship really is. When I was young I had what I thought was my best friend. We were suppose to go golfing on a Saturday but unfortunately I had my stroke on the Friday before. While I was in the hospital many people came to visit and give me positive comments to keep me going but my so called friend never came to see me or leave any comments, not even a card. After I came home he never saw again even though we lived in the same the town. So what is friendship I ask. I've enjoyed my blogging friends more then my friends here except I do have two very caring friends in my life now. They taught me teach what friendship really means today.
    Have a a friendly Saturday Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. When my husband had his stroke he had the same thing happen. A couple he saw or talked with every single day dropped off the radar all together. It's very common but hard to accept when it happens to you. It took me five years to find forgiveness because my husband really missed them and kept wanting me to get them to stop over. I tried but they never wanted to come. I finally realized that my husband was the glue that kept that friendship going. He was the storyteller who made them laugh, the person who had all the good ideas and they were the followers. Without his leader anymore, they were lost.

      Another couple what we were very close to also pulled way back and it took five years for us to learn that they were going through a major health scare of their own while Don was trying to recover from his stroke.They thought it was best not to tell us because we "had enough to handle as it was" and the guy was very embarrassed about having breast cancer. But it would have been easier to accept that than to think good friends abandoned us after Don's stroke.

      I have made peace with the fact friendships are not all equal and when something changes, so do many friendships. If we are lucky enough to have a few truly good friends who stay with us through thick and thin we are lucky. All friendships can't be A listers. It just doesn't work that way. LOL

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  4. Friends come and friends go. Some I've had for many years though. I do agree that divorce can change everything. Just went through that recently. Now I'm done with both of them. The drama was more than I could handle.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Drama! Some people do seem to thrive on it, don't they. I shy away from people who carry drama around.

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  5. How wonderful that you have these friends, albeit distant, to kick back with. Like pushing the reset button "Oh! That's what having a confidante feels like!". I've yet to find a new playmate or confidante at this stage of my life. Oy. Still pushing through my barriers and coming out any day now. LOL -- I'll tickle my blog's keyboard soon. I'm just hours back from Kauai. My yard is knee deep in leaves that need me first!

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    1. One of these days I keep thinking you're going to pull up stakes and go live in Kauai. You, being farther a long in this widowhood journey, gives me a clue how truly hard it is to find new "playmates." I think you try harder than I do, too.

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  6. It is more challenging to make friends without jobs or kids or hobbies to bond over. But it is possible. But right now,the friends are not quite as close as the 30-50 year friendships, but closer than a year or two ago. Like your senior community, I'm going to start a couple regular functions (movie and lunch is where I'm starting) and see how that goes. Thankfully I enjoy 'entertaining" so I can invite people over. It's a work in progress!

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    1. You're right!

      If you do the movie and lunch club try to see the movies first and then have lunch. It makes for better conversations. My club does it both ways---doing breakfast first sometimes so we can get the early bird discount in the theater, but we're always looking at the clock. We do a different restaurant every time and always go the 3rd Friday of the month because that's when the newest movies come to town. Of all the things I do at the senior club, this is my favorite activity.

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    2. P.S. We have 50 people on the email list to get the notifications about the movie place and time, etc. Generally, 15-ish RSVP they are coming but it's not always the same 15 who show up.

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  7. I gotta find out about my area. Old friends are the best. Within minutes of talking, it's like you saw them just yesterday. Everything seems to fall back into the easy way you were with each other through all those years.

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    1. You've described it perfectly, what it's like to be with old friends.

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  8. I've got a friend right now who's "moving away" -- but emotionally, or something. Not physically. It's strange when it happens. Because her circumstances have been difficult, I've kept calling, trying to keep in touch, etc. etc. But there comes a time when no reciprocity means -- no reciprocity. Friendship is mutual, or it isn't friendship. Rough patches are one thing, but this is different.

    Ah, the mean streets of suburbia. A friend and I were followed last week on our way home from dinner. It was 8 in the evening, for heaven's sake, and we were on our home turf. A biker seemed to be following us. After several left and right turns, and a U turn, it was clear that he was. We pulled up right in front of the most popular restaurant in the area, in the handicap parking space, and he pulled up next to us and stared. Of course I called 911, and by the time the nice policeman arrived (in only about two minutes) the jerk was gone. We talked it over with the police, agreed that it was a random "let's try and intimidate some old ladies" kind of event, and they followed us home. End of story.

    But, yes. I did go to our crime mapping site the next day. I didn't find anything particular -- the occasional break-in, a robbery at a store -- but still: it's worth keeping tabs on.

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    1. Getting followed really is scary, isn't it. I had it happen once and instead of turning into my driveway I doubled back around and drove straight to the police station. Boy, did he take off fast when he saw where we were.

      I love your line, :Friendship is mutual, or it isn't friendship." Very true!

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  9. I love Facebook. I love also having good friends close by. And some days I feel the existential aloneness that is the human condition, I guess. It's interesting to me to see how people deal with that. I would never in a million years do what your friend is doing -- pick up and move to "wherever". I'm with you. I research the hell out of things. Does it matter in the end? I dunno.

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    1. I wish I knew the answer to that. The people who just go on gut instinct rather than researching and weighing odd, seem to have an ability to change directions quickly if what they're doing isn't working. Me? I don't like change so I try not to make mistakes in the first place.

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    2. I'm like you! Always trying to avoid peril. I wish I was more carefree sometimes. But I also see other people who are, and their lives are always n chaos. That would drive me insane!

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