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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Week on Widowhood Lane


I’ve had plenty of time to talk to myself the past four days and those conversations are not worth repeating unless you care about area rugs, sleeper chairs and why the heck you can’t buy anything these days that doesn’t need to be assembled! Then there’s the question I’ve been asking myself: Can I actually wrestle around all the parts to a hundred pound sleeper chair long enough to screw them all together? I’m not the strongest old person on the block. Actually, I’m the only person on a block over forty so it could be said that I'm both the strongest and the weakness old person on the cul-de-sac. I need to find a Rent-a-Husband or a Rent-a-Handyman. Seriously, it’s long overdue that I find a professional service that can do things like assemble chairs, install new doorbells, change the light bulb in my overhead garage door opener and other things that involve ladders, electricity and muscles. I did buy myself a power drill for Christmas, though, and I used it to install a new cabinet lock on an oak showcase. I’m not completely helpless.

After the holidays I’m making over my former spare bedroom into a space where I can start painting again. With the full size bed gone---I gave it away---I’ve been trying out different ideas in my head---iron daybeds, futon chaise lounges, air mattresses, convertible footstool/beds---for that one or two nights a year when I might actually need a guest room. I found a small chair (30”x35”x30”) that turns into a 30”x72” bed when needed. The color choices are limited to gray and beige and since I hate the latter, gray is what I’m ordering. If I can’t assemble the sleeper chair on my own, then I’ll bite the bullet and go on online to fine a handyman who advertises, “No job too small!” The floor in the room is light colored wood so I’m getting an area rug to “ground” what little furniture will reside in there with the chair. I’ll just throw a bed sheet down on the floor around my easel when I paint to keep the room from going full-out art studio messy. 

My biggest challenge doing the room makeover, though, is what to do with my childhood dollhouse that sits on a small desk in the room. I want to use that desk for the purpose it was intended again. It’s one of the first antiques I ever bought and I love it as much now as I did back in ‘60s. I can’t even lift the dollhouse so even when I find another place to put it, I’m going to need help. It’s vintage, designed after Tara in Gone with Wind and it was built from plans printed in a magazine back before WWII. As a little girl, I spent hours playing with the house but I spend even more time in the ‘70s redecorating ‘Tara.’ I built furniture from kits, wallpapered, painted, made curtains, and bedding. My mom crocheted little rugs and I still have a kit to wire the house with electricity. I met my husband during my dollhouse era which explains why the wiring never got finished and the front door still hasn’t been rehung. I wish I knew a little girl who’d like it. We have one girl in the family under a year old and two more in wombs, so maybe one day I will know a little girl who will want to play with miniatures---if I don’t sell the house first. 

Four days without human contact and already I’m tired of talking to myself. I would have made a lousy prairie pioneer who often went months without seeing or hearing from another human being. I should call someone but it’s so close to Christmas I don’t want to interrupt their busy schedules. In Angels & Demons Dan Brown wrote, “Even the technology that promises to unite us, divides us. Each of us is now electronically connected to the globe, and yet we feel utterly alone.” I didn’t read the book but I understand the quote. We read Facebook postings by our friends and families going off to one place or another, and between the holidays TV is full of feel-good stories about good people doing good deeds and it’s all---well---very good. But if we let it, watching the rest of the world go by without us can bring out the grumpy ghost of holidays past. Widows can feel like lead soldiers sitting high on a shelf because the latest version of Star Wars toys has taken over the world.

The son-I-wish-I-had has recently become the guardian over an elderly woman who has spent the seven-eight years since her husband died being a hermit, living in a classic hoarder’s house. Apparently she wasn’t a nice lady living alone. Neighbors would try to help and be rebuffed. Once a guy shoveled the snow off her sidewalk and was told to get off her property, offers of baked goods from neighbors were refused and any dog ball or kid toy that landed on her lawn ended up in a box inside her house. I vow to all that is holy in the blog world that I will not become that lady! At times I might be an island onto myself but it’s going to be a nice, welcoming island where the only inhabitant will resist turning her inner William Blake loose on the plastered wall. ©

"Enlightenment means taking full responsibility for your life." 
William Blake
William Blake, an artist and poet who was often labeled insane, genius and prophet all rolled into one.

15 comments:

  1. I find those small jobs I can't do alone the biggest dilemma of living alone. I used to think that I could always figure out a way to do it by myself -- but now that I've reached the age where they ask you at every doctor's appointment whether you have fallen in the past year, I am being a little more cautious. One of the advantages of having construction guys here all the time last year (probably the only advantage) was that I would ask them to help with these small jobs. I hope you solve the chair dilemma; I'm counting you to inspire me to get moving on my own spare room. -Jean

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    1. The pressure is on, but I thought you were the one inspiring me to get moving on my spare room project. LOL

      I do not trust myself on anything higher than a one foot off the ground. I got rid of my six foot ladder so I won't be tempted. I have a one foot step like the kind they have in doctor's offices to get up on their tables. All the light bulbs in my entire house can be changed with a long handled light bulb changer except for the one in that garage door opener. It bugs me when I can't find work-arounds to do things like that.

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  2. Oh, I feel your pain about needing a handy person! My hands still hurt from screwing in 8 three inch screws with an allen wrench.

    I, too, am keeping an eye on myself so I don't become a mean old hoarder.

    The sleeper chair I have in Portland must weigh 300 lbs! I can barely scoot it. Thankfully I have a 33 year old un-son-in-law. My days of rearranging furniture is over. I need a better sound system for the TV but can't imagine I could figure out what to plug where ....

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    1. At least I have a techie person handyman who could do your TV set up in a snap. However, he charges $100 an hour so I do try my best first to fix and set up stuff. He's a piece of eye candy so there's that to make it less painful when I have to call. LOL

      You gave me a link to that chair and it really looks like quality that will hold up. You actually use it often for sleeping and mine will only be for once in a blue moon, so I'm hoping it will last as long as I need it. The reviews were promising. I'll get a memory foam topper for it and a foot stool if I can find one that will match good enough.

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  3. I would need help. I'm not helpless, but my skills and abilities do have limitations. I guess that's true for everyone. It sounds like a sleeper chair would be perfect in your art studio. My husband just reminded me that his stepfather became a rent-a-husband of sorts after his mother died... except he did it for free. He lived in a rural area. He went around the county, and took all of the widows' garbage to the dump for them, moved their firewood inside as needed, did any small repairs they needed, etc. It made him feel useful and gave him contact with others. I'm sure they appreciated it, too.

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    1. You bet those widows were appreciative! I'll bet H's stepfather got a lot of good meals out of the deal, too. My husband used to help elderly ladies with stuff as well. Some guys just see the need more than others and more importantly, have the skills and time to do it.

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  4. Hubby and I have these issues now. We need help with so many things around the house. Hubby is not the typical handyman, in fact it's much better if he hires someone to fix what went wrong. If he tries to fix things then it costs twice as much to fix the original fix and his mess. Bless his heart, but he's so good at so many other things.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. My husband could fix just about anything but he couldn't write a letter to save his soul or cook even the simplest things. Have a good Christmas, Sandee!

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  5. I, too, am walking around talking to myself. I am alone for a while ( my husband likes to spend a lot more time in England than I do). I went out this morning to get a few things that I needed so that I can avoid the shops for the next few days and I feel a bit like an anthropologist listening to conversations: (Daddy please can I get this....You'll have to wait and see what Santa brings). And honestly, I don't mind feeling like an anthropologist because I don't immerse myself in holiday culture normally. And true to form, I came home and spent the afternoon clearing a path in the woods in case we have winter this year. We are unseasonably mild. Last winter I did a lot of snowshoeing in the woods behind our house and there was one little bit that was overgrown and hard to get through so this afternoon I cut branches and cleared it.
    Speaking of anthropologists, have you ever heard of Temple Grandin's book An Anthroplogist on Mars? (She is the autistic lady who Oliver Sacks introduced us to through his writing). I find the title of her book so interesting because it is enough of a feeling of detachment to be an anthropologist, that to add another layer of detachment by suggesting that she is on another planet is very intriguing! (Which is the sense that she was attempting to create!)
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. It is fun and interesting to eavesdrop on conversations when we're in public. I do it all the time. Thinking of it an anthropology research is a cool way to characterize it. I had not heard of the book you mentioned by it sounds intriguing.

      Snowshoeing is something I wish I'd tried when I was younger. I loved cross country skiing the few times I tried it and I actually own a pair of vintage snowshoes. We're having a mild winter so far and after the last two brutal winters we deserve one. Have a good Christmas, Leze!

      Havi

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  6. What would we do without confidantes to reach through the computer screen to vent to and hug? I've got a case of the lonelies, too.

    I love Willima Blake's quote. I consider it my Christmas gift from you. Here's a quote I find heartening: My name isn't on the problem, but my name is on the solution.

    Merry Christmas, Jean : -)

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  7. Thanks, now I'll spend the rest of the day trying to figure out what that quote means. LOL I think it means that although we may not have caused a problem for ourselves that we're responsible to solve it for ourselves. Right???

    Merry Christmas back at you! And to everyone who comes here to read today and tomorrow.

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    1. Right! You totally understand the quote.

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  8. My Mother made my doll house for my 4th Christmas--during WW11. I recently gave it to my sister, as she has two grand girls that love to play with it. I must admit--I miss it sitting in the corner of my bedroom where I saw it every morning when I woke up. BUT--it is time for me to grow up. :-)

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    1. You found the perfect situation for your dollhouse. You can still visit it from time to time and know it's still in the family building new memories. With any luck it will stay in your family for years to come.

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