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, May 4, 2016

Thank God for May, Eyesight and Gatherings



I’ve never been so glad to see the end of a month and the beginning of another. This year I had twenty-five appointments spread out over the thirty days of April and it was like having a job, getting up every day with a mission on my day planner. It’s easy to understand why people like me who are living in hard winter climates do this to ourselves. In addition to the biannual medical stuff that we older people save up for good driving weather, we’re sick of being snowed in thus we over schedule fun stuff as soon as the snow disappears. And then there are the appointments related to getting the house and yard ready for summer---the irrigation system start-up, the spring cleanup arranged, the eaves cleaned out and the weed control guy lined up. First world stuff---all of it and I still have more first world things to do before summer gets into full swing. But that window washing and carpet cleaning are going to have to wait. I have a dead tree that needs to come down before it falls into my bedroom and my maintenance budget is getting stretched. Woo is me. At least I have a maintenance budget. Some people don’t even have a place to maintain.

The last appointment I had in April was for the eye doctor. My eyes have been bothering me for a couple of years now but there’s nothing wrong with them that glasses can correct. In one eye I have a giant floater that looks like a spider crawling over anything light colored like walls, floors or book pages. When it first appeared it scared the heck out of me and when I called the eye doctor he had me come in that same day. Nothing to worry about, he said, unless I start getting white flashes of light in that eye then it crosses over to the land of eye emergencies. The spider will go away in time but it’s been with me for over a year now and it still startles me from time to time. I hate spiders! With the other eye I just found out I have a condition that only happens to 6% of the population. The doctor explained it this way: If you place your hand palm down on a piece of fabric with your fingers spread and then you draw that fabric into a ball…that’s what is happening to the lens in my eye. It causes some mild distortions in my sight and in rare cases it could get bad enough to require surgery. The first thing I thought of is there is an artist I studied in the ‘60s who painted like what I imagine I’ll see if the condition gets worse. Maybe if that happens I could revive his style and become famous like a modern-day Grandma Moses. That’s not out of the realm of possibilities. I once read an article written by an ophthalmology who credited eye diseases for the way various famous artists in past centuries saw and painted their worlds. Heck, I could make lemonade out of anything. 

The senior hall started a new monthly event called The Gathering. It’s a mixer for people looking for friends and I went to the first one…not opposite sex friends, just friends in general. It was great! Around twenty-five of us showed up. The facilitator did what I imagine are common "mixer games” designed to get us talking. With one she had us each pick up a picture when we entered the room and later on we had to talk about. I picked a polar bear which led to a discussion of environmental issues. Another woman picked a butterfly and told how, to her, it represents her faith in God and how she has a butterfly in every room of her house. Another person picked a photo of a dog and she talked about her pets. Sitting there listening I discovered things in common with others in the room and with one woman/recent widow in particular we have three overlapping interests. I signed up for the next two Gatherings and with the next one they’ll have a contact list of those in the group so we can arrange coffee dates or whatever. 

In the first years following my husband’s death I was in an almost desperate search for friends. (Why did I use a modifier with 'desperate'? I did feel desperate, just admit it Jean, you're a big girl now!) Anyway, It took a while for me to figure out that the hole in my life Don 's passing left behind can’t be filled easily. I was meeting and making friendly acquaintances and although I naively missed a few overtures, finding friends to do things with, to talk to occasionally on the phone, didn’t happening. I made peace with the fact that my friendless status quo would be with me for the rest of my life. Now, with The Gatherings I’m guardedly optimistic about resuming the search. Everyone at The Gatherings is looking for friends which is different than going “cold canvasing” out into the big, scary world looking for a connection. I’ll give it the summer…. ©


P.S. There is a new widow in my 'Blogs I Follow" feed---her husband died in February. If you have the time to pop over to say, "Hi" or to give her some encouragement, you'll find her at: Surviving Widowhood
                                                                                                                            

21 comments:

  1. With renovations, I was busier at home than at work (at least at work I could relax in my break, and on return to home!) and it continues, with something or other needing to be done/maintained. If I was working, I would never have noticed these things. I like being busy so that's ok. Its only when something else gets added on top eg medical appointments, getting quotes, researching flights/accommodation, etc that I feel snowed under.

    Re making friends, I think that becomes harder for most of us as we grow older. I prefer my own company to being in company with people I don't really like/respect, and find making new friends, trusting someone new, etc too much of an effort. (Similarly, someone liking me/trusting me, etc - it is two way traffic.)

    By the way, I was recently watching TV (UK's 'Grand Designs') about a guy with a cleaning business, building this gorgeous, huge, luxury home - $ not really a consideration. It made my think about your cleaning lady's comments re their boss' commission. Who knew that the cleaning business was so profitable?! Now it makes sense why a friend of a friend was interested in setting up one.

    Trump has really triumphed, with Indiana in the bag. The pundits all left scratching their heads. Truth is truly stranger than fiction. ~ Libby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never worried or thought about making friends when Don was alive. He made enough for both of us but those friends except for a few dropped by the wayside when he had his stroke and could no longer talk. Even so, we lived close to his family and I knew in a true emergency I could count of them, if needed which I never did. Now, they all have health issues of their own and/or caregiver issues so I "feel" more alone. I enjoy people watching and hearing them talk, even if they aren't anyone I'd like to make friends with, so that's one reason why I go places.

      Along the lines of the cleaning company owner building a luxury home, we used to know a guy who owned a garbage pickup service and he was VERY wealthy.

      I think I was more shocked about Cruz dropping out than I was about Trump winning Indiana. Truth truly is stranger than fiction.

      Delete
  2. Last summer was almost frantically busy with Bob's medical appointments, and me evolving into a new role. For some reason I seem to schedule my physical in the summer months so I was running to my own medical appointments as well as his. Last summer all those tests you do one in a blue moon seemed to come due. I'm hoping this summer is going to be very different. I'm thinking calm and peaceful.

    Bob had floaters in one eye for a long time after his cataract surgery but they finally did go away. We saw a retina (I think) specialist and learned they could surgically remove the floaters if they were causing too much trouble but we elected to wait it out. He referred to his floaters as "cockroaches." Your other eye problem certainly sounds interesting. First I'd heard of that.

    The Gathering sounds good on paper. I'll be interested in how it works out for you. Making friends at our age seems to be tricky business. Like you, I'll have a lack of friends if I'm left alone because of the years I've spent taking care of Bob.

    House maintenance, deliver me from such. I hate that kind of stuff. Once Bob's situation became such that he could no longer do the lawn and upkeep I said "Out of here" and sold the house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my gosh! Floaters that look like "cockroaches"? I will never complain about my "spider" again. I didn't know they can be removed but I wouldn't do it either.

      After Don's stroke we built a house and sold two because we couldn't find wheelchair friendly housing and neither house we owned could be retrofitted. Apartments were practically nonexistence. We rented one while the house was being built but we had to take the doors off the bedroom and bathroom. Even though the very large complex with 300 units had 10 wheelchair accessible units (as required by law) we found out later they rented them out to people with no disabilities. Ticked me right off. Thankfully, I just have to make calls for maintenance and be home for them to call. But I'd like something smaller.

      Delete
  3. I like the concept of The Gatherings. Just for getting out and talking to other humans ... and if you meet a kindred spirit, even better!

    Then you get to learn how to UNfriend someone when you learn something about them that doesn't fit you. One lady here is very very spiritual and is always trying to get me to do things with her, along those lines. Finally she learned I was also a no. Now she says "want to have coffee?" or "want to go to the beach" but her thinking is just so different from mine. The excuses I have had to come up with. When I didn't want to celebrate my birthday with her ... she drove over and put a mushy spiritual card on my door!

    Another acquaintance who was becoming more of a friend ... I saw her shoplift! AGH! I'm still debating if I should say I saw her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dealing with clingy people is challenge and a turn off. I guess the best defense is to learn to spot the signs early on and nip it in the bud. My husband had trouble with a friend getting too involved in his life, took all his privacy way and he finally had to tell him to back off.

      And ohmygod, a shoplifter would be a major deal breaker for me! How could you trust her not to steal from your house, your purse or put a shoplifted item in your bag while out shopping? Not a fun situation to be in, I imagine!

      Delete
  4. I don't know what is wrong with me, but I have no need to find new friends or anything to fill up "empty" days. I guess I don't get lonely and don't really feel I have any empty day? I so love my solitude that I get annoyed when I have appointments I must keep or people keep dropping in uninvited. I know. I'm weird!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You already have what I wish I had. You have John, Pearle, Merle and even Dar within walking distance. If you truly had an emergency someone would find you and you chit-chat back and forth. I like my solitude, too, but I also like educational stimulus so it's a balancing act. I absolutely HATE hate it when people drop in unexpectedly. Give me at least 10 minutes notice! With cell phones that's not too much to ask.

      Delete
  5. Wow! Jean, thank you for the shout out! That is so very kind of you to do that. <3 I am deeply honored.

    This gathering thing sounds amazing. I really hope it sparks a friendship or two. If I lived near you, I would love to get together, you seem like my kind of gal and I think we would have fun! I hope to hear that happening for you soon. This seemed very encouraging. Fingers and toes crossed!

    That eye thing with the spider like thing crawling across your eye (I'm so sorry it is spider like!), my husband started having something similar not too long before he passed. It wasn't related at all but it just reminded me because he was really worried about it and I remember looking it up and seeing exactly what you said that it was nothing to worry about. We made an appointment with the eye doctor but he told me that even if it was nothing, to have it happen was extremely unsettling. I hope it goes away for you soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I first got the 'spider' I used to try to kill it on the wall. LOL It really was unsettling at first even after I knew what it was.

      If you've read any of my older blogs you'll know I used to obsess about finding friends. It's really hard as a widow. I didn't realize how much I depended on my husband to draw them in. He was easy to get to know, I'm more reserved at first. I think the Gathering was a stroke of genius on the part of whoever thought up the idea. The senior hall is full of widows! I'm in West Michigan. What state are you in?

      No problem on the shout out. I know it takes a LONG time for people to find new blogs and even longer for them to start commenting.

      Delete
    2. I'm in Toronto and next year I shall be in North Carolina! Moving down to the states was something S and I were so looking forward to so this is going to be very bittersweet but I am still looking forward to getting out of this apartment and yet so sad to be leaving it. These two feelings constantly butt heads against each other in my mind. I can't stay but I can't leave. Oh, loss is such an insane experience.

      It's a long ways off but when I drive down to North Carolina, it wouldn't be too far off my path to go through West Michigan and meet for lunch!

      Delete
    3. I stressed last summer over the possibility of moving from the north end of a large town to the south end of town. I can't image the stress of moving between countries. North Carolina is a beautiful state, though.

      I'm close 131 just north of Grand Rapids and I'm betting you'd come through MI at Buffalo, NY to get to N.C. It's 5 1/2 hours one way from here to Buffalo. I have nephew who makes that trip fairly often, to see his daughter. It doesn't look that far away on a map, does it.

      Delete
    4. That sounds very doable to me! I shall include it in my road trip plans. :)

      Delete
  6. Your post woke up my longing for friends even more. From "it'd be nice, but not necessary" to "I'm lonely and I want to share fun and feelings with a couple people". Waaa! Yet I also adore No Home Invasions, and can barely tolerate being herded together on my bicycle outings. Oh well, at least we are in charge now.

    These gatherings may be magic for you in trying people out. I wish you the best finding a friend to laugh with, lean on (a little) and give you amazing elbow room at the same time. April sounded exhausting, so it's my hope, if summer warms up, we can rest on a field of daisies with friends.

    Thanks for giving me a heads up on a new widow in blogland. A-visiting I will go.

    A spider and a crinkling universe in your eyes? Crap! Maybe when it's time, doctors can kill two birds with one stone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The eye doctor said cataract surgery is a good two years off, if that's what you mean. But I don't think the two things are related anyway. Cataracts are a film that forms and the spider has to do with a gel-like fluid that is suppose to be there but pulls away from the eye.

      I'm anxious to hear the latest chapter on your biking club. When Don first died I looked at bikes and came close to buying one and joining a club of all women. Then I found out how borderline my bones are and decided against it.

      Delete
    2. Cycling IS fun and folks do it into their mid-80's around here. I took it up after Ev died. I kept purchasing lighter and lighter weight bikes, though, to make the hills flatter. My bones are borderline, too, but strong muscles around them shield them ( not to mention the fat). The possibility of falling is one reason I prefer to cycle in a group.

      No bicycle outings this past week - every day's been too soggy. And no word from you-know-who. I'll post early next week LOL

      Delete
    3. You're right about strong muscles. I need to do more in that department.

      No answer from you-know-who is telling, isn't it.

      Delete
  7. Maybe I will check to see if we have something like "the gathering" around here. You have great options available through your senior hall. H and I are companionable, but I worry about our deficit of friends if (when) one of us is left alone. We had so many friends, but they have dwindled over the years: moves, deaths, and separations when we were living with Dad. I hope you meet someone you want to explore a friendship with. So many seniors find ourselves in this situation, especially widows or widowers, but some of us still-married types, too. Your "gathering" sounds like a good way to find a new friend. I hope it's fruitful.

    Whew! So many appointments for one month, but I can certainly see why you schedule them in more predictable weather. We have those six-month doctor appointments now and I have my monthly lab for my INR, and anything else that comes along. I'm glad that we live so close to the hospital and our doctors. It's very convenient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If your local senior hall doesn't have anything, google MeetUps+. When I was thinking of moving to the other end of town I found a meet up for people over 60 and others for book clubs and quilters that I would have tried out. The over 60 MeetUp seemed to do a lot of the same things my senior hall does.

      I wish my doctor was closer!

      Delete
  8. What great programming your senior hall has! This is brilliant. -Jean

    ReplyDelete
  9. I keep telling the senior hall director that she needs to teach classes to the other senior hall directors in the area. She keeps growing the membership and programs while others in the area just do bingo and health lectures.

    ReplyDelete