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, September 21, 2016

The Invincible Widow



After dropping Levi off for his grooming appointment on Monday I had an hour to kill before The Gathering, a monthly event at the senior hall for people looking for friends. Starbucks Double Star Day was calling my name so I stopped. I usually take advantage of the drive-thru window but I felt like doing my John Steinbeck impression so I went inside where I thought the seven busy employees could keep me entertained as they did their mixing and blending. All summer I’ve been drinking their Ice Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiatos but fall is officially here which means out with the old and in with the new featured drinks made with pumpkin, chili and salted caramel. I’ve been drinking a lot of soy milk lately which I credit for keeping the chin hairs away which inspired me to include it in my Starbucks order and for the first time ever, I became one of those people whose drink order sounds like an essay, “I’d like a tall Salty Caramel Mocha Frappuccino with soy milk and, yes, to your next question regarding the whipped cream.” I’ve tried the pumpkin drinks and they’re good, but I can’t wrap my brain around having coffee seasoned with chili powder.

After sitting at a table where I could see everyone in the place I took out my notebook---not the kind that has a keyboard---to use as a prop for my struggling writer act. I was the only person in the place over thirty and I was surrounded by others using notebooks---the kind that doesn't require an ink pen or pencil. None of them were doing anything remotely interesting and I decided the next time I want to people watch I’m going back to the Guy Land Cafeteria. At least there if the other customers ignore me I’ll know it’s not age discrimination.  

I’m crazy about Starbucks. I like the seasonally drinks and more importantly l love their commitment to ethical sourcing and verifiable fair treatment of 3rd party workers. I like that Starbucks takes a holistic approach and teach classes in small farm communities around the world about long-term sustainability of land and water sources. I like that they pay their baristas’ tuition for any online college courses they complete and that all their baristas look smart enough to wash their hands after using the bathroom. And I don’t mind paying a little more for all those things. 

After The Gathering when seven of the fourteen in the group went to Tim Horton’s, I felt like I was cheating on Starbucks. Drinks were cheaper but their two employees struggled with our orders. Two of us got bowls of chili instead of the smaller cups we ordered. The cashier didn’t know how to process a gift certificate and when he was reminded that bread came with the chili, he handed out slices without a plate or napkin. But we had a good time and I think a couple of the ladies are going to start going to The Movie and Lunch Club next month. Slowly but surely---cross my fingers---we are working our way out of the friendly acquaintance zone into new friends getting to know one another. 

At The Gathering a man came for the first time. When I saw his name tag, I started to laugh and I made a comment about the facilitator labeling him “guy” because there are so few men who come to the senior center. Guy had no sense of humor and did not laugh but four of us turned bright red trying to quit. Where is a mother with a bar of soap when you need one? He’s veteran who recently went through a “nasty divorce that took all his money, his house and his dog.” All that came out when we played a game where we each drew a penny out of a dish and had to tell the others something that happened in the year that matched the date on the penny we drew. I lucked out and drew the year Don and I moved into our brand new house, a happy memory after two years of extreme hardships and stress that included Don’s massive stroke and 9/11.  

After leaving Tim Horton’s and picking up Levi, I felt a sense of pride in myself. Yes, I still miss my husband---not a day goes by that something doesn’t remind me of Don. But I am a woman who has not let forces beyond my control rob me of my sense of humor. I’m still standing and the only real dilemma in my immediate future is if I’m going to try the Chili Mocha at Starbucks. I am strong and I’m in danger of belting out the chorus of Helen Reddy's song about being invincible, so I need to quit writing here.  ©

18 comments:

  1. SO many people don't like Starbucks because "they are a big corporation." What does that matter? They DO amazing things ... for suppliers, employees, customers. They were the FIRST coffee shop to close on Maui when we had a water warning. And their coffee is not too bad either!

    Good luck on continuing to progress on the friend trail. It looks like it's working! Invite someone to do something with you! The worst that could happen is they might say no!!

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    1. Yup, all corporations are not equal when it comes to having a business model that gives back to society and acts with a social conscious. I try to support the good ones and avoid the bad ones.

      Ms. Poetry from the "A Hike in the Woods" blog post invited me over to her house last Saturday but I couldn't go and the woman who invited me to the sewing guild asked me to a second meeting next month. I'm watching the local media for something like a festival or movie or whatever to invite someone to go with me.

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    2. GOOD FOR YOU! It's working!! I hope you don't have a crushing winter to put a damper on things!

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    3. I'm worried about winter doing that, too!

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  2. Starbucks, I have never been there, nor to any coffee shop. I can see where it could be an interesting place to people watch. Maybe you just hit a bad day as far as clientele is concerned. Hmm ... chili?

    I'm trying not to think of that poor guy after he finally got the nerve up to attend The Gathering. Generally having suspicions about 'guys' who show up at primarily female venues, I felt kind of sorry for him. Guys get lonely too. It sounds like most of you are warming up to each other. You kept that chili theme going at Tim Horton's, eh? I like places that are more relaxed. (Never been there either.) Nice to know you are more comfortable with the group. The sewing lady may have other interests that match yours!

    I called my old friend, Ruth, last night, in regard to MDS. Her husband had that and this is the month of the 5th year anniversary of his passing. I felt like a crumb bringing it up and apologized for it. She said there were always things to remind her and she just tried to look past it, day by day. They were married 49 years. She's a strong woman too.

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    1. I don't think you ever need to apologize for bringing up something like that to a widow. Most/many widows, I think, like (or need) for others to give us an opportunity to acknowledge and talk about the elephant in the room so to speak. I personally like that my husband meant something to and is remembered by others as well as me, like he wasn't an illusion all those years.

      I don't know if it's common knowledge that the senior hall events are mostly attended by women. At one time it was about 10% men but it's been going up and now it might be closer to 15%. I'm hoping Guy is hard of hearing and didn't really hear what I said. It just came out without any forethought and I felt bad about saying it after his facial expression didn't seem to register it in any way. Many of us tried to make him feel welcome after the meeting.

      Tim Horton's is a very relaxed place...like a MacDonald's only they specialize donuts, bagels and coffee with just a few blended coffee drinks plus Cold Stone ice cream and simple bagel sandwiches. Starbucks specialized in coffee and tea blended drinks and has a wide assortment of them. They added a few sandwiches and sweet treats in the last year or two. It's always busy and although I've seen older people inside, it's mostly a younger customer base who sits around inside with their computers.

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  3. I was thinking about Starbucks just this morning. Living in the PNW where there's a coffee shop on every corner I wondered if that might be a place I could steal away to watch people, take a break, and perhaps read a newspaper or magazine. It might be a problem that I don't like their coffee.

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    1. No one goes to Starbucks to get a straight up cup of coffee. They make it strong because 99% of their customers get their coffee as a blended drink and they have 41 of those to choose from and 32 different blended tea drinks. If I was going to try it for the first or second time I'd go online ahead of time and look at their menu of coffee and tea drinks. You'll see photos and if you click on the photos it will tell you what's in it plus nutrition information. Pick out a couple in case what looks good is out of season. Starbucks is a great place to kill an hour because they are used to people staying around to use their wifi or read. If you tried their ground coffee to make at home, you may have tried only one of the different world beans they carry. Coffee is like wine, you have to do a little experimenting to find the one you like but it's worth if you like coffee (or tea).

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  4. That song IS my motto. I've been belting it out for the last 30+ years. Mr. Guy sounds a lot like John. Within 15 minutes of meeting John because I petted his dog, I new his life story. BORING! At least John got to keep his dog. LOL

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    1. Good for you, Judy. You couldn't have a better song to to inspire a motto.

      In my opinion, everyone's life sounds boring if they have to sum it up in twenty-five words or less...unless you were a Cold War era spy. LOL

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  5. I like going to coffee shops, for the people-gazing, and newspaper/magazine browsing, as much as the coffee. I have no favourite shop. I scout around in the mall's food hall for a place that looks appealing, and that has fresh cake slices or muffins. If I've made a good choice, its bliss!

    You can't keep a good woman down. You're an inspiration, Jean R. I look forward to your blogs, and admire that you've kept them up, regularly as clockwork all these years. May you continue to be invincible. ~ Libby

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    1. Thank you! I'm happy to have you as a reader and frequent commentator. I have my ups and downs but by nature I'm an optimist.

      I think coffee shops are a good place to start going if a widow is timid about going out to restaurants alone, and most are at first. The time commitment can be as little or long as we want---if you get antsy, pick up the cup and go. Then we can work our way up to going out to lunches by ourselves after we've mastered coffee shops.

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  6. I loved that Helen Reddy song! Your Gathering group sounds both interesting and promising. -Jean

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    1. I really love The Gatherings and it's all in the facilitator's ability to spur on conversations, making sure no one person dominates and that the shy ones are encouraged with questions.

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  7. What a great post to read. you sound so positive.

    “nasty divorce that took all his money, his house and his dog.”
    Oh, my. It's unusual for people to divorce at our age. They usually do it within the first decade, but there's another upturn when the kids graduate from high school, but not at our stage of life. Maybe it was his sense of humor... or lack thereof. :)

    Love me some Starbucks. Yumm-o! And I like their style.

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    1. I don't like hearing only one side of a divorce, especially when it seems to have had a bitter ending. Well, most of them do, don't they.

      Can't believe we're both up so early...must be something in the air.

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  8. As a PNW resident, I'm a Starbucks snob. I LOVE it. Even here (especially here?) there are those who scream "corporate giant" and push the "drink local" call to action. I do have a couple of local places I go to, but Starbucks is still the best. Not all corporations are evil.

    I'd love to hear you belt out that song! You are an inspiration.

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    1. Trust me. one chorus and you'd be sticking your fingers in your ears. I sing like a crackly-voiced old woman that I am.

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