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, August 13, 2016

From Phone Fantasies to Hugging Widows



I took a small table in the corner and sat with my back against the wall, facing the door. If you grew up in the ‘40s or ‘50s on Spaghetti Westerns you’ll know why this location is strategically important. I haven’t been in a gun fight since I was ten and wearing my Gentry Autry six shooter but there’s no point in letting my guard down now just because I’m old enough to have gray hair and an AARP’s card in my wallet. I ordered a quesadilla because they’re hard to make at home, but even if they weren’t I cook like a 3rd grader who can’t be trusted not to lose interest in between chopping the onions and the green peppers. 

I should rename the Breakfast Only Café in my blogs. I call it that because they close at two in the afternoon and the only thing my husband and I ever ordered there was their huge omelets which we’d split. I’ve been working my way through their lunch entrees to find another 'favorite' and that’s a mini widowhood hurdle that I’ve successfully jumped. “What hurdle?” some non-widows would ask and I’d have to explain that ordering an omelet would mean taking half of it home only to make me feel lonely the next day when I ate it. I fell down that rabbit hole a few times before I learned my lesson---and that was after avoiding the place for over a year post-Don.  

I’m used to seeing waitresses at the Breakfast Only Café but this time there was a new twist in the place---a tall, near-perfect specimen of sun tanned arm muscles working as a waiter. He was in his late 50s and super-efficient at his craft. I thought about moving to his section but I decided I’d probably empty out my pocketbook tipping him as penance for lusting after the pleasure of hearing his sultry voice when he’d ask if I wanted my coffee warmed up. I don’t remember ever having phone sex---that wasn’t a ‘thing’ in my heyday---but Mr. Waiter could have looked like a toad and still make good money working at 1-800-Sex-Male. Who knew a woman of my advanced age could find a fantasy while eating a quesadilla? He didn’t look like a toad, by the way. His face matched the rest of him. Funny how those things work out.

The next day was my second time going to my new book club. We discussed Darlene Gee’s Friendship Bread and I wasn’t surprised that someone made a batch and brought some still-warm bread plus starter bags for those us of who wanted to try it ourselves. The bread was surprisingly sweet, more like cake than bread, and now I have nine days ahead of me to punch the yeast fermenting starter bag daily before it will be ready to split and bake. If I forget, it explodes. I’m going to like the ladies in the club, most of whom are better read than me, but I held my own in the discussion of the book. The only one who was quiet the entire time revealed at the end had she lost her husband just six days earlier. She had been his sole caregiver for five years. As we were leaving I walked up to her, said a few words I’d hoping would be helpful and she hugged me. That was so cool because I had wanted to ask her if I could give her hug her. I used to hug people without asking until recently when a blogger friend confessed that it makes her uncomfortable when other women hug her and one of her commenters wrote that she felt the same way. I might go back to trusting my instincts on this one, though. I’m not a serial huger but sometimes you can look into someone’s eyes and sense a need. 

When I read I like to save and savor a line or two from the book that speaks to me. This time it’s an entire passage from the Friendship Bread: “She's come to realize that life is a bit like doing laundry---you have to separate the darks from the lights. One's not necessarily better than the other---they're just different. They have different needs, require different levels of care. She knows plenty of customers [in the laundry mat] who don't give it much thought and throw all their laundry in together, and maybe that's the chaotic part of life that just happens, that no matter how hard you try, you can't always keep things separate. A red sock gets mixed in with a load of whites, or a delicate black top gets washed in hot water by accident. These things happen. All you can do is learn from it and move on. Tell your husband to enjoy his pink underwear, give your shrunken top to your little sister or niece. But it doesn't mean that you stop sorting your laundry. You keep sorting--lights from darks, darks from lights--and hope for the best.”

After book club I went out to lunch. Yes, again. I’ve been going out a lot this past month. Going to restaurants alone isn’t hard since I learned to take a notebook and write like mad, making a point of closing the notebook when the waitress comes by. I like the fantasy of being a bit mysterious, of someone maybe mistaking me for a real writer. Other customers---people watchers like me---look and wonder and wouldn’t they be shocked if they knew I’m usually writing about them...or maybe their waiter with a voice that reminds me of love making in a far away place, long ago. ©

22 comments:

  1. The only book I would have enjoyed Book Clubbing is The Golden Gate by V. Seth - its a novel written entirely in verse. It had so many wonderful turn of phrases and more-than-one-meaning couplets that I know I missed many nuances.I'd have enjoyed sharing my thoughts and rapturous pleasure. The sweet bread/cake sounds tasty.

    I don't mind eating out by myself, but only do it when travelling, as I prefer my home cooked meals. Restaurant meals are generally calorie-laden, and I prefer to enjoy them guilt-free eg when I've been walking all day and am ravenously hungry.

    I'm seduced by attractive voices, male or female. Sometimes, the contrast between a person I've been talking for weeks on the phone at work, and the actual person is slightly off putting. A Scottish receptionist at work had many callers who loved talking to her, just to hear her soft, lilting voice.

    I don't miss the sex, but do miss the intimacy, sleeping with a loving warm body, the loss of years' of shared history, and the only other person in the world who could share my pride/worry over our offspring. ~ Libby

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    1. Funny you should mention a book entirely written in verse. Our new book club selection is like that. I've never read or seen a book like that before.

      Don and I spent most of our adult lives together going out to eat 4-5 times a week. It was easier with our work schedules. It was only after his stroke that we ate at home some of the time. I keep an little cooler in the car for left-overs.

      I love deep voices and I don't hear one as low as my husband's very often. I'll bet you hear a lot accents where you live.

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  2. Hi, I am new to your blog. I enjoyed your post and learned to journal/read when eating alone while traveling without my hubby. It was something I purposed to do so that I might learn. I never thought about left overs making one sad but guess that in that circumstance it could.

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    1. Welcome! I just checked out your blog. You have some amazing photographs in your latest post. I started journaling in restaurants because I'd see things I knew I'd want to blog about and I didn't want to forget the details. But it works to keep me from feeling alone while eating out.

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  3. I used to be a hugger. Now I avoid it because when I get hugged back, some people don't know their own strength.

    Sexy voices, oh my, yeah. Could listen to them all day ... Just to listen anymore. Odd though, I do not get excited over just any old sexy body - it has to accompanied by an equally admirable mind. Not that I could ever go there in reality. Ha Ha.

    Eating out by myself used to be interesting as I am a people watcher too.

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    1. I totally agree with your second paragraph. :)

      That's a good point about hugging. I've not experienced that yet but I can see getting to that point as I age.

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  4. Sounds like you've found a good match with your book club. That should be something to look forward to. Another reason I avoid book clubs is because I talk too much. I have a widow friend who does not cook. She goes out for one meal a da and eats alone. She carries a whole bag of books, colored pencils, notebooks, and her Kindle. She tries to find a spot that's not needed a lot for the busy times and she spends two or three hours. She gets acquainted with the wait staff and some of the regular customers.

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    1. One of the three places I go have regulars who stick around probably as long as your friend. I can't do that. I might milk my last cup of coffee for 5-10 minutes but that's all. Lots of singles in that place.

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  5. So you're in the lunch crowd, not the breakfast crowd now. Way to go! My notebook goes with me everywhere, too. My New York Times, as well. Very pithy, those editorial pages. I get talking to people, too, so my two Diners are like my watering holes. If enough booths are empty I take one, with permission, and spread my papers out. I guess I'm a fixture, 'the [sexy] advantage aged woman'. (I noticed your typo "a woman of my advantage age" as you recall this hunky waiter. Now that's a SUPER Freudian slip.)

    I wouldn't have minded that eye candy... I'm fifty in my dreams...

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    1. My spelling errors can be funny sometimes. (I corrected it above, thanks!). I probably read that sentence over a dozen times and didn't catch it. Now that I think of it there is an advantage to being older. LOL

      Don and I went to a place once that I wish they had more of around here. They had a table for 8-10 people and if you came in alone you had to sit there. If you were 3-10 people coming in together you couldn't sit there. It was fun, friendly place for regulars and strangers alike.

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  6. I love the idea of choosing a special passage or two from a book that speak to you. There are some I remember for years afterward, like May Sarton's "Loneliness is poverty of self; solitude is richness of self" and a great line about academic receptions from a Joanne Dobson mystery: "Academic chitchat swirled around me like a sudden spring snowstorm -- dense and blinding, but with nothing much sticking to the ground."
    I always take a book with me when I eat out alone, and I've gotten into some fun discussions with wait staff and with other diners about books I've been reading.

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    1. I love the May Sarton quote. The second fit you. I wish I could repeat at will quotes that I like. I always have to look them up in my book.

      I can see where books in restaurants can inspire conversations. I have asked people before if the book they are reading is good, etc.

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  7. Your first line about sitting with your back against the wall made me laugh. I certainly do remember those westerns and why it was best to sit with your back against the wall.

    Your Mr. Waiter made me laugh, too. We may have gray hair, but we can still see and appreciate. :) I like picturing you in a restaurant writing about the people around you. People watching is so much fun.

    I'm a bit of a hugger, but it is true that everyone doesn't like to be hugged. I think your bookclub friend/acquaintance needed it, and you're instincts were right.

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    1. It never would have dawned on me that some people don't like getting hugged which makes me wonder if they aren't the ones who need them the most.

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  8. Love your waiter fantasy. A friend and I were at an outdoor concert the other night when we both spied a man and woman being very affectionate together -- we watched his hands rub her back...lower....lower.... we giggled and agreed he had the loveliest, large, expressive hands.... People-watching: Small pleasures.

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    1. I would watch that couple too. I love people watching so much it should be illegal and probably is in some circumstances. LOL

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  9. I've been trying to figure out why I can't remember the last time I've eaten out alone, apart from traveling. I don't mind it then at all, but when I'm simply at home, it just doesn't appeal. For one thing, it's less expensive to eat at home, and unless I'm going to pay real money, I'm a better cook.

    Beyond that, I suppose it's a matter of time. When I get home from work, I have too many things I want to do to get cleaned up and go out. A good salad, or something grilled with a side of veggies, and I'm good to go.

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    1. I usually go out for lunch when I'm already out running errands or for something else. I've never, ever enjoyed cooking, seems like too much trouble for one person and I go to be around other people as much as any other reason.

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  10. I actually had someone give me friendship bread starter! And a book to go with it ... but I don't think it was the one you read. After three years, I'm just starting to get my concentration back enough to read. Wonder why that happens?

    I'm not a big hugger because I am too huge right now! Don't want people to feel my rolls of blubber. More motivation to lose some. With the little ones here, I'm not eating as much to give the parents a break to eat their food while warm! Plus the moving around I've been doing. Pleasantly exhausted by 7pm.

    In fact ... I just sent them out for dinner (no dishwasher til tomorrow) just so I can have some quiet time!


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    1. The book I read had three main characters---Hannah, Julia and Madeline. Every widow I've talked to says that same thing about losing the concentration for reading.

      I've thought about people feeling my 'rolls' when I hug, too. LOL Doesn't stop me though.

      Glad you're having a good time with your family's visit.

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  11. I can eat lunch out, but no so much with dinner. I don't like to cook either. And at 3+ years, I still can't focus on a book, although I'd love to join a book club. Ive had a family roommate for over a year, but she is moving out to be with an old boyfriend, so I have to get use to being alone again. I may look into my local senior center or try to do some volunteer work. All of you inspire me as you deal with what life has tossed your way.

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    1. I don't think I've ever done dinner out alone either. Two many couples and families and I like my biggest meal at lunch time anyway.

      Getting back into reading seems to be a common thing with widows as we all lose our concentration. Local libraries often sponsor book clubs and start up this time of the year.

      The blog community is great for inspiring each other isn't it. Thanks for being a part of that with your comments.

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