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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Parties and Conversations



The ski resorts’ loss here in West Michigan is my gain. No snow from Thanksgiving to (hopefully) Christmas, Yeah! I love it, absolutely LOVE it! No snow meant I was able to go to the Red Hat Society Christmas party and the senior hall party plus take the dog to his “party” at Chow Hound. What a difference from the last two years when I was snowbound too often and cancellations kept me as lonely as the Maytag repairman. If you don’t understand that Maytag reference, be happy. That means you had a social life a few years back that didn’t revolve around the family television set.

At the Red Hat party my good luck was overflowing because I was bookended by two of my favorite chapter sisters. One “bookend” was an upbeat and busy widow whose husband died within a few days of Don and other “bookend” is a prolific poet. Besides writing, she goes to out-of-state workshops and does weekly readings on open mic nights for poets, song writers and storytellers that take place at a local brewery. In my wildest nightmares I can’t imagine doing that. I'd pee my pants in fear. She awes me with the breadth of her knowledge and her vocabulary alone is beyond any I’ve ever heard coming out a person’s mouth. Several times at the party I said, “I don’t know that word. What does it mean?” The Widow, petite and sweet, I just learned had been married four times! Twice divorced and twice widowed. If the poet had that much personal history to dissect on paper can you imagine the insights she’d be able to articulate? Our three way conversation was fluid and fun and it covered everything from making your own marshmallows to the KKK. 

The dog's party was a fund raiser for the local humane society and when Levi and I arrived at the store, over thirty dogs were waiting in line to get their photos taken with Santa. No problem, they said the line went fast and all the dogs were thrilled to see the others. Levi decided he wasn’t getting enough attention so he made himself memorable by pooping on the floor. And not just a little bit! I bagged up one pile not knowing he was behind me making another which I stepped in and tracked all the way across the store as I went searching for the guy on mop duty. Oops! Thankfully, the person behind me graciously saved our place in line and it was a good thing because another two dozen dogs had arrived after us. Finally, we got near the front of the line where a couple was trying to get a big black Lab donning a red scarf to sit at Santa's feet, but that dog went into wet noodle mode. It was quite entertaining watching them try to get and keep the Lab into a sitting position. When he wasn’t flopping on the floor, he had his nose in Santa’s crotch. Levi, always camera ready, did his photo shoot in under a minute. He was the two hundred and fifteenth dog photographed that day. Afterward, we went to Starbucks so Levi could get a puppuccino and I could get a salty caramel latte and a "controversial" red cup for my holiday collection. 

The senior hall Christmas parties take place at a different venue than our own building, so no one has to be turned away. We had nearly 400 in attendance. (Our regular luncheons are capped at 115.) You never know who you’ll sit next to at a senior hall event and this time I was surrounded by women who all had a volunteer gig going on in their lives. Two work at Red Cross blood drives, another works on the election board, one lady works for Seniors Helping Seniors and a fifth lady volunteers at the sculpture garden where her latest job was to help decorate 40 internationally themed Christmas trees. For entertainment at the party a choir of twenty-two sang some odd-ball songs mixed in with carols like, Coffee in a Cardboard Cup. Maybe you know it: “The trouble with the world today, it seems to me, is coffee in a cardboard cup. The trouble with the affluent society is coffee in a cardboard cup. No one's ever casual and nonchalant, no one waits a minute in a restaurant. No one wants a waitress passing pleasantries. It's rush it through, and don't be slow.”

All and all it felt good to be busy doing things that put me in the proximity of ordinary people with interesting backstories. Like the guy in the Santa line who’s Golden Retriever just got certified as a therapy dog so he could take her into his mom’s nursing home and like one of my Red Hat sisters who used to be a Marine and who is never without tickets or trinkets to sell to help veteran causes. We humans have such different life stories to tell, don't we. If only there was enough time left in my life to collect them all. ©

“Our culture is all about shallow relationships.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop looking each other in the eye and having deep conversations.” Francis Chan, American Clergyman


16 comments:

  1. Glad you're enjoying not having any snow.

    Oops on tracking the doggie poo all over the store.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. It was funny afterwards, when I got back home. But I was in a panic at the time. Fortunately, I knew I was with people who all understood. It was really my own fault. When I tried to get Levi into the car to go to the pet store, he didn't want to get in. I should have picked up on that clue. I usually let him outside before putting him in the car and I didn't do that this time. The mop guy at the store was so nice about the mess, even gave me some hand-sanitizer.

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  2. What a darling photo! I'd use that in my Christmas letter! And hooray that Mother Nature is on your side this year. The mountains in Oregon are getting your snow and people are excited. The valley folks are drowning in so much rain.

    Me? It was 89 here yesterday ...

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    1. They are saying that we won't even get a white Christmas this year and that makes me so happy. Now I just have to wait to see if we'll be set up for fog Christmas eve. If not, I'll get to go to my family's party. Yeah!

      89 degrees? You're going to make a lot of people jealous spreading that news around. LOL

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  3. I know what you mean about clear roads! I have been so comfortable driving back and forth to band practice and concerts without having to worry about driving conditions.
    And I so agree about ordinary people and their stories. Since my retirement I have found the time to listen to people and everyone has a wonderful story (even if they don't think they do!). Everyone is worth listening to! So much life and so easy to ignore! Why do the media and Hollywood spend so much time concentrating on the extra-ordinary people? Aside from anything else, it raises us to believe we should all be extraordinary when there is value in just being who we are. (I think I'm beginning to go into a rant about our society so I'll leave it there!)
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. We could do a great rant about people the Hollywood reporters think we care knowing about, couldn't we. If I never see another story about the Kardashians, for example, that would be fine by me. CNN has a few shows where they feature ordinary people but I don't think they get the viewership that the nightly gossip shows get. And their person of the year shows are all about do-gooders, not the "pretty people". We need more of those kinds of examples for young people to aspire to.

      What instrument do you play in the band?

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  4. I have to give NPR credit because a couple of years ago they started Story Corp. They sent a van around the country and had people interviewing other people: not celebrities: ordinary people. I believe this will all eventually be archived with the Library of Congress. And I still occasionally hear interviews on the radio...a boy interviewing his uncle about his war experiences or an older person talking about her experience living in a small town during prohibition.
    I think, one of the things the Internet is proving is, things don't have to reach a broad audience. Everyone is not watching the same tv channel or in fact the tv...but people are finding their niche...and telling their own stories.
    I play flute!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. That's really cool, especially the part about the interviews being archived in the Library of Congress some day. I've known a few school kids who were assigned to interview an older relative, a great project!

      About 30 years ago I interviewed everyone in my family including the youngest children and I put all the Q&As in a book for future generations. Time makes ordinary things more important and poignant.

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  5. Supposed to be 54 degrees on Christmas Day!
    Don't be putting down climate change.
    YAY for El Nino'. LOL

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    1. I couldn't be happier about that! The only thing I have to worry about is fog on Christmas eve. If they'd just take that 30% rain out of the forecast I'd be 100% elated...instead of 70%. LOL

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  6. Levi looks like a professional model posing there in Santa's lap. Your Red Hat society lunch sounds like a gathering I would have enjoyed -- all that lively conversation. People here are starting to grumble a bit about the lack of snow. But only a bit. Happy Holidays! -Jean

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  7. I couldn't believe how fast we got his photo compared to the other dogs in line in front of us.

    I was high off the conversation at Red Hats for several days.

    We had enough snow on the roads today to barely cover stuff up but it causes an 80 car pile up just a 1/4 mile from where I live. I'd just been though that area ten minutes earlier. I can do with out snow!

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  8. Oh, Levi, you are a cutie pie. I laughed all the way through his part of the story. It sounds like you're having a good season. I love your the updates on your social life. You do so much. We are all in a rush these days. We have to take a moment here and there to connect. Tis the season.

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    1. I do whatever comes along now because I know it won't be long until I'm snow in and I won't be able to get out. Levi is a cutie pie, isn't he. You should have seen him the next day after his haircut and blow dry.

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  9. I love the red hatters. In my area they aren't around any more. I belonged to a great group.

    Bee

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    1. If you wanted to, you could start another chapter. Their website tells you how to do it. I was one of the founding members of my chapter but I had to drop out after the first year because of my husband's health and then I hooked up with them again after he died, 10 years later.

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