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, October 29, 2016

Around the World and Back to Old People Land



This month’s presentation at the travel club was titled, “The Best of the Hawaiian Islands.” I always thought if I ever take a trip with this group it would be to Hawaii or Alaska, their only U.S. destinations to date but I just found out they’re adding a Western National Parks trip by train and an Eastern Seaboard trip in 2018, the latter appealing to me if it goes to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Those places have been on my Bucket List since before the moon landing. The two sisters who run this travel escort service markets mostly to seniors and I know many widows who have traveled with them. I trust them to take care of their clients. Unfortunately, the sisters prefer two week trips to places like Peru, China, Russia, Scotland, Iceland and other interesting places but in this age of international terrorism and long, security checks at airports they would over-tax my physical endurance. But going to travel club presentations is a great way to “see the world” and I should thank an old boyfriend from the early ‘70s for introducing me to the concept, even though as a dating destination back in my early twenties travelogues were a bit odd. He, as it turned out, was a deep-in-the-closet gay back in those days but, gosh, I loved that guy. To this day, he still goes on a yearly adventure aboard while I’ve only been to Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. Boohoo. It’s too bad we can’t take the best qualities from our past relationships and build ourselves a new playmate.

The Hawaiian Trip cost $5,375 for ten days and nine nights, all-inclusive if you don’t mind only eating ten breakfasts and five dinners while you’re gone and having three days---one in Honolulu, Kona and Maui---to plan your own adventures on your own dime. (The other days are group excursions.) The bottom line: If you’re widow yearning to travel there are clubs and escort services around for us. It just takes a little time going to travelogues to build up your confidence in a service by meeting their repeat clients. Who knows, maybe one day I'll lose my head, plunk down a down payment and joint the cool people with colorful stickers on their luggage.

Have I mentioned balance class lately? No? This week we got a demonstration on how to get off the floor if we fall. Not sure if I can do it with my fake knees and I’m not going to try it until someone visits that can help me up off the floor if I can’t. We also had a dorky role playing session where one person had to read positive responses to negative statements read by another person in the group. The facilitator wanted me to go first but I shocked myself when I replied, “No! I’m dyslexia and I don’t read out loud.” I’ve thought it many times and but this is the first time in my entire life that I've ever said that. Usually I just stumble through, feeling embarrassed if my reading doesn’t come out fluidly. The facilitator went to the next person without missing a beat and I thought, Wow, that felt good! But it does worry me that over the summer I’ve been hearing myself say things that my younger self wouldn’t have said. That filter in the brain that keeps me from blurting out the first thought that comes to mind is starting to deteriorate which seems to be fairly common as we age, but I don’t have to like it.

Aging is not a spectator sport. Old people issues take up a lot of time and energy, don’t they. This week I had to see the audiologist for the yearly check up on my hearing aids---cleaning and adjusting the volume. I’ve been wearing them for three years, now, which means at the end of the month the warranty no longer covers them if they get broken, damaged or lost. Insurance costs $350 a year, but if you don’t get the insurance it costs $350 to send one back to the factory, if needed. I opted to take my chances and not to buy a policy from the I-Don’t-Give-a-Rat’s-Ass Insurance Company. I don’t have an ear wax problem and I don’t lose things or leave the aids down where the dog can turn them to chewing gum like my husband used to do. The biggest problem I have is my ears itch inside with the aids in. The audiologist told me I have very dry skin inside my canals and to get some hydro-cortisone anti-itch cream, put some on a Q-Tip and put a thin layer inside my ears at bedtime for a week. One more cream, one more potion or old people powder and I’m going to need a bigger medicine cabinet.

On the way home I took myself out to lunch and my turned-up hearing aids allowed me to eavesdrop on a conversation going on two tables away. One woman was telling another how she fell for the scam where someone calls and tells you your computer is being attacked by a virus. She ended up giving them her credit card number and access to remotely control her computer. Long story short she was lucky she told her son about it immediately afterward who knew it was a scam. He helped her close her credit card, file a police report and clean up her computer. It’s a scared world out there and you don’t even have to leave your house or the country to be in harm’s way. ©

23 comments:

  1. My traveling days are over. I took some nice trips when I was younger but somewhere along the way I lost that interest. Interesting how that happens. God forbid I ever fall where I can't find something to pull up on to get up. I have a real fear of falling. I don't do business by phone like what that lady got into. There are so many scams out there and a lot of them are related to computers. One the other day warned me about a problem with windows on my computer. I don't own a computer that uses Windows. Ours are all Macs. I think all of us lose some of our filters as we age. I don't have a lot to lose.

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    1. As we age, we should all have a healthy fear of falling because it's the number one reason why so many old people end up in nursing homes.

      I have had all the scammer calls including the current one about the IRA going to arrest you but (knock on wood) I don't fall for their line of bull. I'm generally not trusting of people who call unsolicited about anything, and I hope I keep that. It pays every once in a while to read about the common scams at the FBI site, keep up so you're recognize them.

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  2. I don't think you fell prey to a filterless response. I think you realized it's time to state your truth and set a boundary! Way to go, woman! That, to me, is one of the perks of getting older; I find I have very little patience for living small anymore. This is my one wild and precious life; only I get to decide how to live it.

    Hawaii. We go to Kauai very year. I see the tour buses and wonder if that is fun...being herded here and there. But I do like the appeal of someone else figuring out all the logistics. I've always thought if I ever went to Europe I'd do a Rick Steves tour. He's local here -- about 15 miles from me -- but you may have heard of him -- quite the travel guru. He emphasizes small tours, out of the way lodging and restaurants, etc, to mimic as closely as possible a "local" experience. Don't know if I'll ever really go. It would still involve air travel and I have a hard enough time with my annual Hawaii trip.

    Scams and phone calls: I have caller ID and will NOT pick up any number I don't absolutely recognize. If it's legit and important, they will leave a message. And I never respond to any stupid "this is he IRS and you will be arrested" threats. If anyone is truly trying to find you, they will send a letter and even then, I'd head to the IRS office to confirm it's legitimacy. I am sad at how many people are duped.

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    1. Oh, I hope you're right about the "filterless" responses. I do like your way of reframing and defining them. I'm going to work on that.

      For someone who doesn't travel often or who has no one to travel with, I think being herded here and there with a club works. This escort service never takes more than 25 people so it's easy to get to know others before you even leave if you go to their events and pre-travel mixers. All their trips contain 'free days' and they will help you facilitate the logistics to places you might like to go that others wouldn't like street fairs, art galleries, hiking, shopping or whatever. It kind of the best of both worlds.

      I'm a sucker for picking up the phone whenever it rings just to hear a human voice. But I have a good radar for scams. Sometimes I make up a language when I respond and they hang up. If they call back I'll answer, "Agent Cross speaking." Around 5:00 almost every day I'll get one from a known call center near-by and they have those interactive computers so if you ask a question they will reply. They are really fun to play with if you're in the right mood.

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  3. I do not like to travel any more either. It takes so much more time and stress ... just getting onto the plane. And sometimes back off while they get another plane. Since I still have one bad knee and a cane, it's not much fun to walk very far either.

    Like Donnajurene, I never answer a number I do not recognize. Oh especially during Aug/Sept when the political people were building up steam. Sometimes if Kate calls from a number I don't know ... she'll send me a text first asking me to answer!

    One of my condo neighbors fell for the face email saying another neighbor was stuck in Turkey and their passports had been stolen, could you please send $3,000. Without checking to see if his neighbors were even away (they were HOME) he wired the money. About a week later he went to their house to ask for his repayment. He was MAD.

    Thanks for the itchy ear relief program! Soon it will take me three hours to get ready to leave the house ... for an hour ....

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  4. I honestly don't understand why so many people fall for those "wire money" scams. The warnings are all over the place.

    If you do the itchy ear treatment be sure to do it at bedtime, not before putting your hearing aids in your ears. The stuff has to absorb into your skin.

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  5. I'm quite happy staying put at home but realise I have to challenge myself to get out and about, be it try new things or visit new places. The effort gets my brain cells active and that is good. It is stressful to travel but I keep telling myself that as long as I have my passport and credit card, and travel insurance, all ok.

    Scams - well, first time I got a call about tax arrears I was taken aback/puzzled, rang the number given and became even more so. Then rang the listed Tax Office number and learn about the scam. Now better informed, and check the scams online if I get an unusual call.

    I laughed when I read about the insurance/replacement $ amount for the hearing aids - I'd not have taken out the insurance either!

    Brain filter? - never an issue to be forthright, and stupidly, proud about it. When I read of Trump's aversion to 'political correctness" I thought that - the sensitivity to others - is the lubricant that makes the world run easier. Now, I try to hold my tongue, but the vanity of being forthright / straightforward persists.

    I had blood tests done - all good, and consistent with that done 3. years ago. Then why the constant fatigue and lack of energy? Also discovered from the Dr's records that I had osteoporosis (thought I had osteopenia), going for a DEXA scan next week to discover what's happened over the last 3 years. With 6 monthly visits to dentist to keep gum disease under control, life not much fun. ~ Libby

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    1. With my husband the insurance was worth it. His hearing aids were going back 3-4 times a year. But if you read the link under "Rat's Ass" you'll know I have no love for the company.

      Don't get me started on Trump's aversion to political correctness. I think a person can be straight forward and forthright without being rude and insensitive.

      Good luck with your DEXA scan. Wow, that is a lot of dentist appointments but I'm sure they'll be worth it to save your gums.

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  6. Every time I hear a story like that, I get more paranoid. As they say, "even if you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." Ha! I never give out information on the phone. Never.

    You are a good advertisement for hearing aids. I'm such a voyeur. It's my character flaw. I'd love to be able to eavesdrop on strangers. Ha!


    I'm not much for traveling either. Your time about travelogues is a good one. I've never thought of that.

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    1. I seriously doubt I'll go on a big trip either... they're a lot of money plus it would be too hard on Levi. But travelogues have the best photos and the speakers are people how have been to the countries many times. They're a good,free event and you always learn something interesting.

      I'm a good voyeur in restaurants, too. When Don was alive lots of people would eavesdrop on us talking so I don't feel the least bit guilty. LOL

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  7. I agree with Donnajurene. It's not that I say the first thing that comes to mind and therefore, don't have a filter. It's more that I say what I am thinking and I am not concerned about what other people think of me like I was when I was younger. I am who I am. But, just to be clear, I do maintain a degree of civility, unlike the candidate referred to!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. When we are young we do care more about what others think of us, don't we. I guess Oprah would call it being our authentic selves to drop the pretenses.

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  8. Ha! We both have Hawaii on our mind. Your post reminds me I better get my traveling in while I'm still feeling frisky. $500 a day for all the coddling we'd get on one of those luxury trips is tempting, if we can swing it. For me, it's always "save for a rainy day first", but if I can manage it, I find that a good trip abroad is the gift that keeps giving, with lessons and memories and even new friendships. I hope a trip to Martha's Vineyard opens up for you.

    These days the only calls I get on my landline are doctor appointment reminders, advertising or scams. If it rings, I don't even get off the couch to answer; I let the answering machine take it. Everything social is done by e-mail, texting or messaging on Facebook, short and sweet. It's always funny when I learn that someone has texted my landline.

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    1. Isn't it interesting how much the importance of landlines has diminished in our lifetimes. If someone had told us that would happen 20 years ago no one would have believed it. I personally don't like the quality of sound from cell phones. I have a friend who calls on one and every time he turns his head, his voice fades. But you're right about texting, Facebook and emails being the way people make plans these days.

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  9. Your travel club sounds like fun. I spent a month in Alaska 20 years ago, and it was worth every penny (and I tacked on an extra two weeks to the trip by taking the train across the U.S., through some gorgeous scenery). If you get to New England, we should try to meet up.
    This week at my chorale rehearsal, the music director, who is in his 60s, explained why he was sitting on a stool to direct instead of standing and then quoted Joan Crawford: "Aging is not for sissies." -Jean

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    1. The way the two sisters leave a few free days in their trips, getting together for a meet ups is possible.

      I did not know that Joan Crawford coined that phrase about "aging is not for sissies." Bette Davis was famous for saying something similar, "Old age is not for sissies." When I was a caregiver my blog byline was, "caregiving is not for sissies." I guess everyone copies great phrases from everyone.

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  10. So, if you might enjoy a trip with a companion, what about with the gay guy?

    Peggy

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    1. He's had the same traveling companion for a half century.

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  11. I used to go to Travelogues a lot with my parents. Trips to Alaska and the Canadian Rockies--always hoped to get there. Not much for long trips like that now. I'm glad I got to make an 8 week trip all over the NorthWest of this country a decade ago--when I could still walk and sit comfortably.

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    1. Oh, my gosh! Sitting for long periods is almost as bad as walking a lot, isn't it. We are getting old. LOL

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  12. Most of my travels came from major moves and never out of the states. It would be a lovely dream.

    Filter? There is supposed to be a filter? I seem to have forgotten about that.

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    1. Nothing wrong with that. We have some fascinating places right here in the states.

      LOL I guess filters are over-rated.

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