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

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Widow at Thanksgiving Time

It’s hard to believe this Thanksgiving will be my fourth one since Don died. Like most widows probably get, I got my share of invitations the first three years---family who didn’t want to see me spend the day all alone. Heck, one year I even got an invitation from a Red Hat Society sister who said, “We have so many people, no one will notice one more.” I can laugh about that now but I think I can speak for all widows when I say that being a guest in a crowd of strangers who don’t notice we’re in the room ranks right up there with getting a full body waxing from a hunky Swedish lady who speaks no English and wears a strange smirk on her face as she works on our privates. This year there were no invitations. And that’s okay. I am woman. Hear me roar that I’m in charge of my own happiness or lack thereof. 

On a widow support site where I’m an occasional lurker one of the widow bloggers wrote that people have quit asking her to holiday gatherings. What she thought were good friends and close family, she said, she now thinks were only asking her out of duty and not out of love, so she’s saying goodbye to those relationships. Say what? To me, that’s akin to suggesting that it's other people’s responsibility to fill the empty hole in a widow’s life. Where is the appreciation for people taking time take out of their busy lives to be there for us when our grief was fresh and having done so, should we expect it to be their ongoing, no-expiration-date responsibility to cure our holiday blues? Maybe they have newly minted grieving people to invite. Maybe they are going away instead of hosting this year. Maybe their family size is increasing and they no longer have extra space. The ‘maybes’ are endless, so why take it personal? Sure, holidays can be bittersweet. We remember the happy years when we had a close relationship/spouse in our lives. We remember the joy of shared laughter and fellowship with people we loved. And if we give into it, it would be easy to get jealous of others who still get to enjoy those things but is that really in our own best interests? Say it with me: "I am woman. Hear me roar! I’m in charge of my own happiness of lack thereof."

I miss turkey, though. At the senior hall luncheon I managed to trade plates with another person so I could get all dark meat. (Enjoy trading while you can. Once we get to that nursing home they might not let us elderly folks do that.) I was in nirvana eating it and I’ve figured out a way to get leftovers for turkey sandwiches. I bought a package of three turkey legs, then spent the rest of the day trying to figure out why the turkey processing plants put three and not two or four legs per package. Are turkeys so pumped up with hormones and chemicals that they grow an extra leg? Are some of them born with only one leg? Why? Why? WHY? I really want to know. I also bought a five inch pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Cut it into four pieces and put it in the freezer. Someone came along and ate all four pieces---I think it was Levi the Mighty Schnauzer---and now I have to buy another if I’m going to have one for Thanksgiving. Living alone has its perils. There’s no one around to blame your dietary sins on, but I try. "Levi, you are such a bad boy!"

At the senior hall luncheons we are led in prayer by a woman who is extremely caring and kind but her prayers always leave me wondering when someone will object to their decidedly non-inclusive nature. Something a little more non-denominational would seem more appropriate with 115 in attendance. As I worked on ideas for this blog I got to wondering what Google would turn up in the way of Thanksgiving prayers and all I managed to find is something that made me mad. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. Mark 11:24” That’s from the new international Bible version but all the other versions say pretty much the same thing. It made me mad because millions of people have been praying for peace on earth for eons and with the recent terrorist attacks in France and Mali it feels like we’ll never achieve it. I didn't find a perfect, non-denominational prayer but I did find something I like that was written by Hesham A. Hassaballa, a Muslim American internist and the author of A Guide to Islam. In his prayer for peace he wrote, “A cynic (or realist) will say that this day is still a long way off. Yet, with God all things are possible. Thus, during this season of giving thanks, I raise my hands up in prayer.” Amen to that twist on Mark 11:24. Hesham’s Facebook page, by the way, has some interesting reading. Google is crazy. You never know where it will take you.

Since I can't have peace on earth any time soon, as a widow I still have other things to be thankful for: 1) I am healthier than I was last year both in mind and body; 2) My brother's cancer treatments end this week---he's doing well---and everyone else in my immediate family seems to be healthy and happy; 3) I have choices in life that many others living around the world don’t have; 4) I have a past worth reminiscing about and a future worth dreaming about; and last but not least, 5) I am thankful that I am woman and I'm in charge of my own happiness or lack thereof! ©

“Your life is now. Don’t miss it.”
a line from a Hallmark movie playing in the background

30 comments:

  1. 'Life is not a dress rehearsal' - this is IT.
    'Use the best crockery, nightdress, etc.'
    I believe in above, but often forget. After a life of frugality, difficut to let go.
    And yes, I am responsible for my own happines!!

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  2. I living my life to the fullest and have for many years. There are so many unimportant things that people dwell on instead of all the things that are important.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Yup, you do know how to get the best of our retirement. Have a great Thanksgiving.

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  3. I like that second paragraph. So true! I had to get away from the widow's blog thingy I used to read. EGADS--so depressing. Career Widows I call them. Still worshipping at the cremains shrine after 7 years? Get a life! Yes, I know, "we all grieve differently". blah, blah,. blah. No excuses. I am woman, hear me roar!

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    1. From time to time, I feel the need to write about the issues of widowhood but I hope I am careful to never cross over that line into being a 'career widow' and I know exactly what you mean by that.There are a few on every support site. You and I are both the pull-yourself-up-by-the-boot-straps type and it's hard to understand why a few others get stuck in the murk and melodrama of their loss when they are pushing a decade out from their spouse's death. Maybe when we get to the 7-8-9th year we will understand but until then I'm sticking with the concept that I am in charge of my own happiness or lack thereof.

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  4. "I am woman. Hear me roar! I am in charge of my happiness" I love your attitude, and I, too, love your second paragraph. Widowhood is so much more than just being a trooper. It's taking responsibility to thrive. It DID take me more than seven years to get where you are now at four. Hey, who's counting?

    I wish you, and all of us, a very blessed Thanksgiving. Love you!

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    1. Thank you and right back at you on the blessed Thanksgiving and love..

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  5. Seven? Make that ten years to get where you are now. LOL

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    1. But you got there and that's the important thing.

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  6. There's nothing that makes me quite as uncomfortable as being invited to a holiday dinner as someone's charity project. Ugh! This year, I'm having dinner with my neighbor and her family -- but I feel like I'm doing my part in helping to make it a festive occasion despite some recent difficult times for them. I have been known to make a big turkey feast for one and just tell anyone who asks me where I'm going for the holiday, "Oh, I'm having dinner at my house this year." -Jean

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    1. I got an invitation today but turned it down and told them I had already bought all my food so I was sticking to my plan. When my husband was alive I had a rule that I never, ever turned down an invitation because I was afraid people would quit asking if I did. It's not easy for people to accommodate a person in a wheelchair and he really enjoyed being around people. Me, I'm like you and am not always comfortable in family groups that aren't my own.

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  7. I love roaring!!! I would never ever think of you as a career widow. You seem to have the right balance of remembering and moving forward. And I love your blog! Intelligent, personal, humorous and always interesting! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Whole Foods has the complete turkey dinner at their hot food bar! $8.99/lb ... turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, roasted veggies, and so much more. I just couldn't find a slice (or 5") pumpkin pie. I may have to make one!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. I gobble them up like candy.

      I'm going to the store today to see if I can find a bean casserole already made and, of course, another 5" pie. Love the idea that Whole Foods has so much for you to choose from. Have a great holiday.

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  8. Jean, you are an inspiration. Truly. I'm grateful for YOU. Roar on!

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    1. I always feel like we both belong to the Mutual Admiration Society when you comment and I comment back. I think your blog is inspirational and I am grateful for you. LOL Hope your holiday is a good one.

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  9. I feel a bit like Scrooge because I don't want to participate in the traditional festivities and even without a television I am already tired of the recipes and stories for the holidays from the radio. We are going to spend a long weekend in Toronto.
    Have a good holiday and I, too, thank you for your blog!
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a surreal world because I've been alternating between OD-ing on Christmas movies and OD-ing on world news. I think I need the sappiness of the former to tolerate the violence and craziness of the latter. A weekend in Toronto sounds like a great get-away. I hope you have a good time. And thank you for your frequent comments.

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  10. So well written, especially about the "Maybes"! Good reminder, that we are in charge or our happiness or lack thereof. Someday, when I am NOT in charge of that (i.e. nursing home?), that will be a sad, sad milestone. Yep, am enjoying the freedom to do whatever I like while it lasts! Have a Happy Thanksgiving day, Jean. Ann in IL

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    1. Thanks, Ann! I hope you have a good holiday as well. The son-I-wish-I-had is helping an elderly woman transition into an assisted living place where she doesn't want to believe she needs to stay. It is a sad milestone and we should all celebrate when we can say we are still in charge of ourselves.

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  11. "a hunky Swedish lady who speaks no English and wears a strange smirk on her face as she works on our privates" OMG You are too funny!!

    We are in charge of our own happiness. We can all use that reminder from time to time. Holidays can be challenging. I like how you are going at it. I hope you have a good day, Jean. Happy Thanksgiving!!

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    1. The turkey legs go in the crock pot as soon as my head wakes up so I will have a late dinner. Levi and I will watch the American Kennel Club show and I will have a nice day. I did all my touching bases calls last week and will start writing my Christmas letters.

      Hope you have a great Thanksgiving, too.

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  12. Thank you for your post! It has been eight years and I still have a difficult time with major holidays. This blog found me sobbing in my bed. I HAVE moved on, met a new companion, bought a house together, and made new goals. Now I am wondering if I need to find another "true love". My honey and I have lived together for six years. Still not that happy. He is great in a lot of ways and just waited on me "hand and foot" after a hip replacement. Thanksgiving is about gratitude; I'm trying hard to be thankful.

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    1. Welcome to my blog! I wrote a longer reply to you below your second comment.

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  13. Thank you for your post. This blog found me in bed...sobbing. It has been eight years since I lost my true love, and I HAVE moved on. I have been living with a significant other for six years. We bought a house together, but holidays stil really stink. My children are grown and due to my sons'wives plans and work schedules, I rarely have traditional holidays. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, though. I will be thankful for the blesssings I DO have.

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    1. Sounds like a lot of the holiday changes in your life aren't so much related to losing a spouse as they are related to the natural growing of families. It happened to me when my mom died and my sister-in-law took over hosting. Then kids started getting married and going elsewhere. Life goes on and we have to adjust. Not always easy but worth the fighting to achieve.

      Thank you for reaching out with a comment. I published both of them because they contain slightly different content and I'm sure there are others out there reading who can identify with your feelings.

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    2. Thank you again. Sorry that I was having trouble posting a reply and I inadvertently posted two!

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  14. Jean, you are never really alone. You have many friends & relatives and of course your blogger buddies. I'm glad that you are healthier then last year. As far as us Canadians, we sit down to usual dinner but I enjoy get the opportunity of watching football. My Detroit Lions no matter how lousy they might be, I still enjoy them.
    Have a the best Thanksgiving that you can have my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Thanks, Paul. I'm glad I found your blog this year. It always gives me something to laugh about.

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