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

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas Spirit, Anyone?



My first Christmas alone after Don died came on the heels of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took the lives of twenty children and six adults. It put my grief in perspective. After all, I had forty-two years with Don and the parents in Connecticut only got a few with their innocent little angels. Their incomprehensible and deep grief was a stark reminder that there are always people in the world who are hurting more than we do. And now we have another Christmas time tragedy, this time taking the lives of fourteen people and injuring an additional twenty-four. Such senseless acts of violence get harder and harder to ignore in my blog world where we’re supposed to share the ups and the downs of our lives but often I don’t when it comes to how the news and politics affects me. I’m a news junkie. It’s a big part of my life, but writing about that aspect of my life doesn't fit what people expect when they land on a widow's blog. After Sandy Hook, however, I couldn’t ignore that incident and I wrote an entry titled Where Have You Gone, Christmas? And as you can see by the similar title of this blog, I'm asking a similar question again this year. Did the shooters in San Bernardino rob everyone of their Christmas spirit? ISIS would love that if it were true. Or are most people able to push it aside and go on with their lives as if nothing happened?

I went to a Christmas party on Thursday at the union hall where 350 attended---retirees and their spouses. It’s the first one I’ve been to since the Christmas before Don died. He loved those parties and I always had a good time. I did this week, too, but several times I found myself on the verge of tears, totally catching me off guard. I hadn’t been in a “weepy widow” mode in eons but early on at the party when a coworker of Don’s smiled brightly at me and came over to ask how I was doing, I felt the tears well up behind my eyes before he even got to where I was sitting. Don’t do it Jean! I told myself. You cannot cry here! Twice more before the afternoon was over I had to remind myself to keep my emotions in check. Once was when I had a flashing image of gunmen coming through the door. What would I do if it happened here? And the other time I felt tears welling up was when a friend of Don’s and I first greeted each other. He had lost his legs in a horrible accident, then his wife left him shortly after and he had a few really rough years. Now he runs a successful non-profit that gets wheelchair bound people out into the woods during hunting season and Don took part in the program for several years. Some of my best, post-stroke memories came from our involvement with his group---fund raisers, deer camp run by spouses, etc. When I got home from the party, I was exhausted. Not physically but emotionally and I took a two hour nap which I rarely do during the day.

Long time readers here know I hang around a very big and busy website that encourages political debate on issues of the day. The thread about the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, to date, has nearly 30,000 views and 2,500 replies. With the exception of a dozen or so replies I’ve mostly lurked on that thread. It’s just too knee-jerk reactionary for my tastes but I’m like a butterfly to a flame. I can’t quit reading the new replies. It’s truly alarming the way some people believe in matching one violent act with more violent acts and on individuals who had nothing whatsoever to do with the shooters. Promoting genocide comes way too easy to internet warriors, as easy as Major General Sherman allegedly saying, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Have we learned nothing about the cycle of violence and holocausts throughout history? It never ends well. “Violence begets violence,” Martin Luther King Jr. is famous for preaching, a concept based on the Gospel of Mathew 26:52. “’Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’” Who would have thought I’d wake up today quoting King or the Bible. Certainly not me. 

The bad moments at the party were just that---fleeting moments mixed in with lots of good feelings of being surrounded by people who have warm memories of my husband. Near the end of the Christmas party they did a hundred drawings for cash prizes and the poinsettias on the tables---fifty twenty dollar bills and fifty plants. When I made a comment that I didn’t want to win the cash, I was hoping for a plant, my legless friend at the end of the table said, “If I win one, you can have mine” and before I knew it, nearly everyone at the table was saying the same, joking that I had six changes to win. I went home with a plant and when Jerry’s name was called everyone at our table cheered. Taking care of the widow, so to speak. As I drove home, I didn’t have to wonder where Christmas went. The spirit of the season was memorialized in that plant sitting on the seat next to me. It serves to remind me that people can go through horrendous things like losing your legs or losing a spouse or losing your sense of security out in public after a terrorist attack but in the end, love always shows up to bind our wounds and start the healing process. ©

14 comments:

  1. Our world is in a mess for sure and there is nothing we can do, really. Stricter gun laws won't help. This is an ideology and we can't really fight that. The definition of Jihad is "striving for self improvement". The Radical Jihadists have interpreted that to mean "Holy War". To rid the world of all Infidels. I truly feel sorry for the "real" Muslims who have to go out daily, not knowing what they may face. I fear this won't be the last mass shooting this Holiday season.

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    1. I agree with most of what you're saying, Judy. But I'm from the camp that believes closing the gun show loopholes and not allowing people on the no-fly list to buy guns will help. Also limiting the high capacity clips is worth looking at. Who needs 100 rounds without reloading for hunting or target practice? We also need more resources to fight hijacked ideology at the root by getting religious experts into the dark part of the internet to combat those trying to radicalize young people.

      I share your fear and hope we're both wrong.

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  2. What happened on 9/11 has continued too happen and will continue to happen. It's the new America. Period. It's a shame and yet it's our reality. Gun loopholes? The bad guys would love to have very gun confiscated. They don't get their guns from a gun shop. They don't fill out the paperwork for gun ownership. It's a black market that we know very little about.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. It's a huge jump between closing the gun show loopholes and gun confiscation. The latter of which will never happen and I know of no group of anti-gun people who are even suggesting we do anything like that. The RNA keeps that rumor afloat because it's a selling tool for the gun industry.

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  3. In Virginia, anyone can buy a gun from a private individual at a gun show without a background check. Only licensed dealers have to conduct checks. I believe that proof of age and citizenship is required for the purchase of assault weapons, though. Not sure. DC has stricter gun laws. Of course, we're next-door.

    I agree, "Love always shows up to bind our wounds and start the healing process." My concern is, as I'm sure everyone else's is, that this is the beginning of more similar events.

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    1. It's going to take a federal law about background checks at gun shows for it to do any good. It's just too easy to drive across state lines. They say that most of the guns used in crimes in Chicago come up from Indiana's gun shows.

      We have these "shooting events" way too often now. It really is crazy and now we have NRA board member (and in my opinion, a certifiable nut)Ted Nugent this past weekend telling a crowd that it's time for conservatives to grab their guns and "cleanse the country of all the liberals!" I just don't get why he NRA thinks that kind of talk iis acceptable.

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  4. I hate hearing about all of these violent attacks. Honestly, it seems like this couple passed through all the hoops (government job, granted a visa, background check for guns, etc) and I've only read about one neighbor who thought they "seemed suspicious" but who should you report suspicions to?

    If those neighbors had called the police or FBI or whomever and nothing was discovered, the whole neighborhood and community would profile them as racist. I know ... I am still on the "bad" list here in the neighborhood on Maui for complaining about a lady having 42 cats.

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    1. I'll bet if they had called up and said "my neighbors spend a lot of time in the garage" no one in law enforcement would have taken that seriously as "suspicious". Lots of guys practically live in their garages.

      I still can't wrap my head around the fact that all your neighbors aren't up in arms about the cat lady or that you don't have laws against animal hoarding there.

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  5. Jean :

    I am so amazed by gun laws in this country. I don't understand in this day & age why any one need to carry or keep gun for their protection, different time needs different laws in old time when there was no law & order & no police protection I understand necessity back then of guns but in this day & age y any one needs gun & that to high capacity (machine gun kind guns). I feel only in this country u hear people going berserk & kill innocent people because of mental illness or something else, and they can do that because there is easy access to guns.

    Asha

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    1. Totally agree with you. The world young people like your son will inherit will be very scary if some sensible compromise isn't made with the gun lobby. Our Founding Fathers never could have envisioned the kinds of weapons we have today.

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  6. We live in a violent country and I think a lot of people tend to forget that this country has always been violent. What is so sad now is that people have easy access to weapons of mass destruction so instead of someone landing in the hospital with a knife wound, people are shot and killed at random. Excuse me for shouting but TAKE the GUNS OFF the STREETS and OUT of the HANDS of PEOPLE. NOONE needs automatic rifles around civilians.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I don't mind in the least that you are shouting what you're shouting. I'm certain the only way that is going to happen is to get big money out of campaigns and D.C. We have to overturn Citizens United. We'll never break the hold the RNA has over lawmakers until we do.

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  7. Oh, don't get me started. I am PASSIONATE about Gun Safety legislation and personally would love if there were no guns in private hands, but that won't happen. So I think owning a gun, like driving a car, should be regulated: Pass a safe use test, get a license, register yourself as a gun owner and register your guns, require liability insurance, and periodically re-do all of it to stay current. And for god's sake no civilian should be able to buy an assault rifle and ammunition. It is lunacy to think that more guns make us safer; that we can't do anything about these killings; that terrorism only comes from religious fanatics (of ALL religions). I feel terrorized by the daily slaughter of children in accidental shootings. In Washington I worked to get a referendum passed to at least require background checks. Now I'm working on Citizens United. I still think good people working together can make a difference. Apathy and hopelessness will be our downfall.

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    1. Well said, Donna! Citizens United must be over-turned to get anywhere with getting sensible federal gun laws on the books. I'm glad you have fire in your belly to work on this. It will make a difference on many levels, not just with gun legislation.

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