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, March 5, 2016

Levi, Scotland and Touching Notes



Some mornings the only thing that makes me want to get out of bed is the dog. Scratch that. I still don’t WANT to get up but you can’t ignore a pushy schnauzer when he’s gotta pee. He bounces against the mattress until I open my eyes and then he stares at me with the sweetest angelic, canine smile on earth. I swing my legs over the side of the bed where I’ll sit for a few minutes to gain my equilibrium. At that point Levi lets me know the peeing order---me before him or him before me. 

With those basics out of the way we begin our morning routine. Coffee goes on and I sit at my keyboard that’s inside a large computer wardrobe in the kitchen. When the coffee spits out of my Keurig, Italian sweet cream goes in it and a few bits of Milk-Bone Trail Mix goes to the dog. But not before he proves he can smell which hand I’m hiding them in. He can’t lose. I have one in each hand but he’s got his favorite flavors and for round one of the game, he’ll pick the hand with the sweet potato over the beef every time but he’ll pick the rolled oats milk bone---his favorite---over both of them in our game of Which Hand.

Over the next hour Levi can be a pain in the butt. As I read around the internet or work on writing my next blog post he’ll be in and out of the house a half dozen times. If he barks while outside, I’ll tap on the window that’s next to my computer chair to get his attention, then hold my finger up to my lips. If that doesn’t silence him, I’ll make him come inside. Usually that happens when someone is walking a dog up the cul-de-sac. When he’s called in he’ll make a bee-line to the library where he can continue to follow the dog and its walker until they are out of sight. At the point Levi wants to go back outside again. He turned eight in January and this has been our routine his entire life which explains why I don’t like morning appointments. Getting dressed and walking the dog in the morning before hurrying off somewhere just isn’t my idea of the good life on Lazy Old Lady Street.

Friday, however, was an exception. I had signed up to go a travelogue about Scotland that was originally scheduled for 3:00 PM Monday but it was the victim of a snow cancellation and it got rescheduled for 10:00 AM on Friday. If I didn’t go it would have been my 7th day of isolation meaning my sanity was in serious jeopardy. Around the 4th day without human contact I feel like I'm drifting in a dinghy in the middle of the ocean and by day six I'm playing Tom Hanks' part  in Cast Away. Levi is my sanity savior and without him in my life I'd probably weigh fifty pounds more if I didn’t have to search the house for him a million times a day. He’s got nine places he likes to be depending on sun patterns, wildlife in the yard, dog walkers and if he’s cold or annoyed or he thinks I need to be watched more carefully for reasons known only to him. 

The travelogue was put on by a travel club I belong to that has eight-nine programs sporadically throughout the year and this time the speaker was a guy from Switzerland who works for Globus, the oldest escort tour company in Europe. The guy was funny enough to be a stand-up comedian and he kept us laughing all the way through laying out a ten day itinerary to see castles, mountains, moors, festivals, pubs, villages and cities. The slides and videos were breathtaking, the classic dancers and music of Scotland lively---both making me wish I was as adventuresome as I am in my imagination. Every time I drive home from one of these events I tell myself I could actually go on one of these tours. I've got the money and the time. But what would I do about Levi? If I thought I could get him to understand Face Time or Skype I know his kennel owner would help him do it. Then all I’d have to do is practice getting drunk so I’d know how to do it on the long flights---that could help me overcome my fear of flying.

When I got home I found a surprise in my mailbox, a note card from a cousin who is a selfless do-good type with a huge heart. She makes me want to be a better person whenever I hear about her many charitable activities. The note read: “Instead of giving up something for lent I feel led to send notes to those who have touched my life. Today God put your name on my heart. I am so glad we have been able to re-connect through Facebook as I have fond memories of time spent with you growing up. Your mom was a stickler for rules, but a fun lady who always made me and the others feel special. Your dad was a gem. I loved his smile and he was so much fun. You know my dad drank and sometimes the good times get lost in the bad times. It is sad that so many in our family are gone, even our cousins....” I don’t honor lent but if I did I’d copy my cousin’s thoughtful idea. Her words made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that others have fond memories of my parents. I won the parent lotto and the older you get, the easier it is to appreciate things like that. ©



21 comments:

  1. What would we do without our pets? Levi needs you. Having a dog must be like having a child who believes the sun rises and sets with you. Never had one, but my last boyfriend did, and while she was sweet, she sure controlled his schedule. Cats, not so much.

    Scotland is one of my favorite places! Such awesome landscape and history. I went 18 years ago, in September. No midges then to do battle with.

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    1. Scotland looks like a wonderful place to visit. I could push myself past the flying thing to go but not leaving Levi for nearly two weeks. When I was younger we had two dogs die from being left behind in a kennel. Never want to go through that again. He is my child.

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  2. I don't get to use the cats as my excuse--I just plain and simply will never fly again--until I am on my way to Heaven. I love what your cousins is doing. I try things like that, rather then give up something. I usually take on something new. I have found, 40 days is a really long time!!! LOL

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    1. One note for each day of lent is very do-able and what a nice way to not only do something nice for someone else but also give yourself a reason to reminisce.

      Your cats would miss you if you took a vacation (or was in the hospital a few days) but they are easier to get someone to come in to feed them and change their litter box.

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  3. Too bad you don't have a live-in dog sitter. Best of both worlds ... and you could get away for a couple of days. My dogs always preferred the babysitter who took them to her house! They had 7 acres and lots of dogs and let everyone on the furniture and in bed with them. Better than home!

    But traveling really is hard work. Maybe if Mr. Ralph were still here but honestly it is even a lot of work to visit Portland! They are talking me into it ... probably May. Once or twice a year. Maybe. At least it is nonstop so I don't have to get off, find the next flight, and reload. I'm joining the Lazy Old Lady club!

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    1. I used to have someone who'd take Levi for a day or two but she got a second dog and so did her son who leave it at her house of daycare. I can't ask her to take Levi anymore with her full house. Dogs really are like our children.

      You'll like the Lazy Old Lady Club. We get to do whatever we want. LOL

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  4. I agree with you: the older I get, the more I appreciate what good parents I had. My gosh...the stories you hear...I feel so fortunate to have grown up with loving, caring and understanding parents. That was sweet of your cousin. One of the reasons that I like the connection that I have with my cousins is that we all knew each other's parents which, at this point in our lives, seems valuable. I have been married 40 years, this year, but my husband never met my father because he died so young. Growing up was such a distant time!

    I don't have any animals because I travel too much! Levi does sound like a pleasant companion.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I only have one sibling---older---and there are so few people left who do remember my parents in our growing-up years. My cousin is a sweetheart. I wish we lived in the same city. You're right about the connection of us all knowing each others parents. It's like shorthand to knowing how each of us were raised.

      I've loved all the dogs I've had in my lifetime but Levi is probably the quirkiest of all.

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    2. I haven't thought about Lent in years, but I really like your cousin's positive approach of doing good deeds rather than the negative approach of giving something up. (I had an alcoholic aunt and uncle who used to give up beer for Lent and only drink hard liquor!) -Jean

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    3. That's funny and very sad at the same time...giving up beer for lent.

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  5. I agree with AW that travelling is hard work. I find that the best part is returning to home, sweet home! That said, is there any good, reliable group travel company in USA (similar to say Globus for Europe) catering for the senior single? Any way to avoid the single supplement (short of dragging a reluctant second person). With so many older single people travelling, I'd have thought travel companies and hotels would have adapted but apparently not. ~ Libby

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    1. Globus does tours in the USA and Canada. I don't know any company that caters to seniors but seniors seem to be the ones who have the time and money for travel. The travel club I belong is all retired people and they have mixers so you get to know others and get matched with a roommate, if you want. I don't go to the mixers because I'm not THAT serious about traveling but I hear some matches even do an over night trip close-by to see how the match would work out. I think I would just pay the extra supplement to have some alone time at night in my room. 24/7 for two weeks with the same people could get a bit much for me otherwise. My travel club uses other travel companies besides Globus but I don't know any of them enough to recommend one over another. The two ladies who run the travel club are great for seniors and I trust them...known them for five years as they escort the senior hall day trips. They facilitate and plan everything and troubleshoot along the way and have been doing world travel for decades. Travel clubs are great. They even have them for RVs and I know of one just for RVing ladies. They caravan around the States.

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  6. I'm not a good traveler. Yes, it's work; it is inconvenient and uncomfortable; often disappointing; and flying is AWFUL! Still, I'd love to visit Scotland. I recently found out I have some Scottish ancestry and I'm sort of obsessed with the Outlander book series, and I have a friend who is Scottish and recently returned to live there so I'd even have someone to visit and show me around. Did I mention how much I hate to fly? That is likely the biggest obstacle. But who knows? Maybe....

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    1. I know you don't like to fly but still screw up your courage to go to Hawaii ever year. Gotta be proud of that.

      I know what you mean about being obsessed of your family homeland. Last year when I found out about my 1/4 Irish heritage going back to 1906 I've been obsessed. I've read some of the Outlander books. They are great!

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    2. P.S. Travel clubs plan a year or two in advance. Lots of time to build up a trust if you go to all the mixers and lectures. I imagine all travel clubs work the same way.

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  7. Thank you! Travelling on my own seems so arduous that I wonder why I think about it. A travel DVD at home seems so much easiser! But sometimes good to push oneself out of one's comfort zone, so will continue to explore the idea. ~ Libby

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    1. Try googling "travel clubs+[your city's name]". I'm pretty sure Australia has a lot of them. The one I belong to has absolutely no pressure to actually travel to attend their lectures. If you go often enough you get to know the others who attend.

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  8. It's no bother at all to put a card in the mail to an older person, and believe it or not, I still have a couple of friends/relatives who are older than I. :( I could do much better on the card detail, but I do try to send my Aunt Ruby a card and call her, but I really don't do it often enough. Your cousin is very thoughtful.

    I love it when you write about Levi and his antics. He makes me smile every time. I told my husband that if/when I die, he should get a cat or dog. I prefer dogs, but he likes cats just as well as dogs. I think dogs are more company, and they care more about humans, but that's just me.

    I don't like to fly either.

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    1. I still like to get hand written cards and notes and do on occasions. But this card was a total surprise.

      Oh, I'm glad you like my Levi paragraphs. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not boring people who don't have pets. But I don't want to forget him if the time comes where all my memories are in print and no longer in my head.

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  9. I smiled at your mention of Levi's affection for his patch of sunshine. Poor Dixie loves her patch of sunshine -- so much so that, on a cloudy day, she'll sit in the middle of the carpet and howl, as if asking, "what did you do with my sunshine?"

    I had a wonderful cat sitter for her, but that one moved to the Pacific Northwest. Good for her, bad for me. Now, I have someone who can do the food and water and litter box routine, but it's still hard on Dixie psychologically if I'm gone more than 3-4 days. Still, it has to happen now and then. I'm planning a trip to visit an elderly aunt this spring, and a longer trip in the fall, but that's it. I think. Long weekend trips are fine.

    She's sixteen now, and healthy, but I hate to stress her out. I guess that's probably a first-world problem.

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    1. That's a so cute, about Dixie's howling for her sunshine. It's easier on cats than dogs to leave them behind, but at sixteen it must be harder each year. I make a point every summer to put Levi in a kennel for a few days even if I'm not going anywhere. I started doing that after Katrina and saw how stressed pets got who had never been in a cage before.

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