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, November 12, 2016

Past, Present and---What Comes Next?



Sometimes things dovetail so perfectly in my life that it’s spooky. Weeks ago I signed up for a lecture billed as, “Honoring Michigan’s First Veterans” and two days after our election I sat down to this fascinating presentation about the Civil War. An author and former history teacher, our dynamic speaker started out by repeated what both Clinton and Obama said this week about our peaceful transfer of power. One hundred and fifty-five years of peaceful transfers is something to truly be proud of, isn’t it. That’s democracy at its finest and hopefully, we'll continue the tradition.

Then our lecturer talked about how while Abraham Lincoln was being inaugurated (1861), eight lawmakers from south of the Mason Dixie Line went over to the White House, took down the American flag and they literally cut the stars out that represented their states---talk about symbolism---and they sewed them in a circle on another flag known now as the Stars and Bars. Thus the Confederacy was born. Lincoln, as we all know, told these guys that secession from the Union would not be allowed and if they tried he’d have no other choice than to bring them back in by force. It took four years to break the Confederacy and by then more 620,000 men and boys had been killed. Compare that to the 644,000 who died in all our other wars put together from the Revolutionary War through to the Gulf Wars and it drives home the reason why the Civil War is still known as our bloodiest war. I won’t repeat all the interesting things I wrote down in my notebook during the lecture but the aspiring wordsmith in me liked learning that the phrase, “Bite the bullet” came from the Civil War. Wounded soldiers in the field were told to bite down on an actual bullet while medics tended their wounds. Among the many artifacts on display at the lecture was a bullet full of teeth marks. 

This week I also went to my book club where we discussed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. It was written from the point of view of a fifteen year old autistic savant who’d cover his ears and do numbers in his head when he got sensory overloaded. I finished up reading the book while I was in sensory overload just before the election and I count that book as part of the spooky dovetailing the universe brought into my life. It wasn’t the type of book I would have ever read on my own but our discussion was interesting and insightful. Four women in the group were teachers before retirement and had stories of their own to tell about children they’d taught. We got a new book club member this month, a man that I’ve never met and didn’t like from the minute he walked in the door. I’ve got a bad habit of making snap judgements about people, I’m ashamed to admit, so it will be interesting to see if I warm up to him in the coming months. I usually don’t change my snap judgements but I’m always hopeful I’ll learn to be a better person and stop judging a "book" by the cover---lame, over used analogy here but I couldn’t help it.

New Topic: Last summer a woman and her two teen-aged sons moved in across the street. She has Parkinson’s disease and up until this week I thought she spent all her time in a wheelchair because I’d never seen her any other way. A few weeks ago she was sitting outside waiting for the Go-Bus that takes her to adult daycare/socialization once a week so I went over, introduced myself and I learned she can barely speak above a soft whisper. To my surprise, a few days ago I opened my front door to find her leaning on a walker and she had a paper in her hand explaining why she was there. I invited her in and quickly skimmed the message. She was inviting me over to her house for a "girl’s night" with some friends from her old neighborhood. I accepted and after she left I read the paper more thoroughly. It will to be a movie and fellowship night featuring a Christian movie “we might like all like to see.” 

Actually, a Christian movie is the last thing I’d like to see but it wouldn’t have made a difference had I known that before accepting the invitation. It was an opportunity to get to know one of my neighbors. I’ve been feeling sorry for her for months---another snap judgement---knowing she didn’t know anyone on our street and she spends so much time alone. When it was time for her to leave, I asked her if she’d like me to walk her back across the street. It’s a long way and she’s none to steady with that walker. She did and I got to meet her sons. Nice boys with good manners. Getting the back story on what happened to her husband is going to be hard but I’m guessing she’s in that statistical pool of woman whose husband’s leave them when they are severely disabled. I’m planning to give her my email address on movie night in the hopes we can communicate that way---someone had to type out the invitation. Wouldn’t that be a spooky twist of irony if I developed a penpal that lives across the street after a lifetime of having penpals from all over the world? ©

22 comments:

  1. I'm impressed at the men sewing their cut out stars!

    My first look and snap judgement of DT? hate the man (this was from Apprentice days when kids would watch - I was never a fan). I should add that I was never a fan of the Simpsons either - stupid me! the information the kids picked up from that show was great.

    The book sounds interesting.

    It'll be interesting to read of your Christian film night, and perhaps developing a pen pal across the street.

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    1. The sewing didn't occur to me but I was struck by the fact that they thought about doing something so symbolic. I'd never heard that story before.

      I'll write about movie night in my next blog. Another adventure in otherwise boring life.

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  2. Your life doesn't sound boring to me at all. Maybe it is because you describe everything so well.
    Genie

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    1. Thank you! One of the fascinating things about the blog community is we get to peak inside other people's lives and learn how much we all have in common on the inside.

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  3. I imagine we aren't the only ones interested in how 'things' are going to turn out. Could be that the President Elect has been having a few unsteady thoughts of that, himself.

    Interesting about the Stars and Bars. To hear of so many discontented people, a split or two wouldn't surprise me. I don't think it would ever get serious though. The world is watching us with a microscope now, sigh ...

    Snap judgements, I occasionally make them myself. I'm too trusting and it often ends up making me miserable. I hope your neighbor lady can be a friend. Christian movie though ...

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    1. It was easier to split back during the Civil War because it was geographical but I don't see how that could even be possible today. I'm hoping the protesters will start putting their energy and time into more productive ways to hold our new president to the fire when he needs it. I plan to join the ACLU again and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both watch dog groups. As Americans I feel we need to give the man a chance, first. But so many people are fearful given the way DT talked about so many segments of our society, So I do understand why they are in the streets.

      Where you're too trusting, I'm the oppose. LOL

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  4. Great post! Since I are one I guess I can talk about the South. I can vouch that the Civil War is alive and well today in that part of the country. They hold a grudge very well. That's neat about meeting your neighbor. Sounds like that holds real potential. Being me I would probably elect to go over and socialize with the group a little and then exit before the film. Do you know if this is a monthly event, perhaps a 'Bible Study?'

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    1. Gosh, it never occurred to me that the event could be a monthly Bible study! Thanks for putting that fear into my head. LOL I'll find out tonight. I do know this isn't the first time she's hosted a 'girl's night'.

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  5. Your comment about snap judgments made me laugh. I don't usually do that, but when I got the Eureka Springs on my trip, I instantly disliked the place. It wasn't the people -- I hadn't met any. It wasn't the scenery -- it was gorgeous. I think it was the way so much kitsch seemed to be crammed together on the hillsides. It is a tourist mecca, which I didn't realize before I got there. I picked it as a stop simply because I wanted to see some sights in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I only had two nights there: not enough to get over my initial dislike.

    But, I did get some photos of white squirrels, and my B&B host was very nice, so it wasn't a total loss.

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    1. White squirrels? I didn't know they existed! I hope they pop up in your blog one day. We have brown, red and black around here.

      I make snap judgments about places too---mostly restaurants and stores that are too "upper class" for my tastes.

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  6. I think I know more about my blogger friends' lives than my here and now friends! I admire that you stretch your boundaries ... reading a book you wouldn't normally choose, for instance.

    Neighbors from our old home invited us over and once we said yes, we learned it was Bible based. But we went any way. It was so much fun, about 10 couples, once a week and we did it for a year!!! They chose a small verse and then we applied it to our lives today. Met some friends from that group!

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    1. Me too. Bloggers open up and share details our lives in a way we wouldn't with our "real-time" friends.

      I'll let you know how my "Christian night" goes. I've only been in one prayer circle in my entire life.

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  7. Sounds like you're doing a good job of being involved and active with others. Having worked with many Parkinson's patients and had a significant one in the family years ago I think you may find your neighbor most interesting -- mostly thinking, talking, moving in slow motion. Wonder if she has been a candidate for the implant they've done in recent years which has benefited some with Parkinson's?

    FWIW I highly recommend reading this commentary I became aware of just today. She's a prominent highly respected 49 year old Russian and American Journalist Masha Gessen who has had first hand experience living as a citizen in both countries:
    http://www2.nybooks.com/daily/s3/nov/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival.html

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    1. Thanks on both the article link and the insight on a person with Parkinson's. I've never known anyone with it. Movie night was tonight---I'll write it about it in my next blog but I do like the woman and want to be friendly with her.

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  8. I would have loved the Civil War lecture. Such an interesting if bloody time in our history.

    I usually make quick judgements, too, and I'm usually right. I guess it's instinct. I will be interested to know if you change your mind later.

    I know I left a comment about B.L. on the previous post, but I'm still thinking about how it's been a couple of years since you first wrote about finding a new friend. You put yourself out there and kept doing it. You've done so many interesting things along the way, and I hope this new friendship develops over time. It sounds like you have a lot in common.

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  9. B.L. and do have a lot in common including our sense of humors which is a biggie. I just hope the winter doesn't slow down the friendship building too much.

    My quick judgements usually are right, too. Some would say "instinct" but New-Age people would say we'd known one another in another life. LOL I tend to think our snap decisions closes us down from bothering to get to know that person---sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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  10. When I was working in Harrisburg,PA this past summer I visited the National Civil War Museum and what struck me the most was an actual fence post from the Gettysburg battlefield with many holes in it and embedded bullets. Next week I'm going to the Jim Crow museum in Big Rapids, Ferris State, open every other Saturday. Just a possible suggestion for one of your field trips.

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    1. Wow, the bullets in the fence posts is a sobering and interesting detail. Thanks for sharing that.

      I've already been to the Jim Crow Museum with my Red Hat group and suggested it to the senior. They are doing a trip there next summer. That's another museum that will mark you although there were a few in my group who didn't "get it." I wrote a blog about it here: http://misadventuresofwidowhood.blogspot.com/search?q=Jim+Crow

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  11. Good for your neighbor to organize an event at her house. I would have trouble doing that if I were new to the neighborhood. It will be great if she has email. I have a sister who has severe speech problems as a result of a stroke (you know how that is), and email is my favorite way to communicate with her. -Jean

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    1. I thought it was pretty clever of her.

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