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, April 1, 2017

Families, Travel and Good Advice



April has finally arrived and I saw my first robin of 2017. Spring is supposed to be here but I heard “snow” and “get out your ice scrapers” on the weather forecast and I quickly turned off the television. With April comes a fifteen day stretch tinged with sadness and melancholy thoughts---Don’s and my anniversary, our birthdays, my mom’s sadiversary and my parents’ anniversary. Will I ever get to a point where they aren’t Red Letter days on my calendar? Maybe. Maybe they’re starting to fade into Pink Letter days? This year my great-great niece’s birthday party has been added into the mix. She’ll be two and that will help in the Department of Things to Look Forward to. And my youngest niece invited me to go see the butterfly exhibit with her and her 2 1/2 year old grandson. Life goes on. Out with the old, in with the new little lives filled with hope and promise.

The son-I-wish-I-had stopped by this week to fix my roof that I thought had lost shingles during a recent wind storm but we got lucky and they didn’t blow away entirely. They just came loose at the bottom and flipped over backward. All he had to do was flip them back and tar them into place. My roof is fourteen years old and it’s not going to last more than a year or two before I’ll need a new one. So it begins, the process of educating myself about shingles and roofing contractors. Two of my neighbors got new roofs since the wind storm. One crew took a whole week to do the job and the other company had a huge crew of non-English speaking guys who got the job done in one day. It’s scary to shop for a job that expensive! And poor Levi---I’ll probably have to put him in a kennel to save his sanity when all that hammering starts. It was bad enough when the noise was coming from the neighbors.

I got a call last night from my nephew’s wife who started out by saying, “I’m putting you on speaker phone.” That’s the first time that’s happened so I asked, “What’s going on?” To make a long story short my great-nephew and his wife are having a baby boy this summer and I was the first person they called with the conformation of the sex, I’m guessing that’s because I was probably the only person in the family expressing out loud how much I wanted them to have a boy to carry on the family name. Otherwise, our family name would die out with my great-nephew. I’m not supposed to tell anyone about the sex until the mother-to-be announces it on Facebook, but since no one reading this knows me off-line I can trust you all not to rent a skywriter to announce my news. Correction: my oldest niece does occasionally read my blog but on the off chance she stops by before the big reveal, she’s a good secret keeper. Judging by this paragraph, apparently, I’m not. 

Yesterday I went to a travelogue about Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. It was presented by a guy who worked as a singer on a cruise ship by night and while in ports he was free to see all the same things on land that the tourists on board got to see. The guy did a presentation last year about Italy and I fell in love with his “travel style” of working his way around the globe but I knew very little about the part of the world he covered this time. He said those three countries are the second fastest growing tourist designation in the world, with China being in the first place slot. Montenegro (which is the size of Connecticut) he claims is the most beautiful place he’s ever seen with its mountains, crystal clear glacial lakes and medieval villages. It resides across the Adriatic Sea almost in line with "the heel of Italy’s boot” in case you’re trying to place the country. All his photos were great but the walled coastal city of Kotor was totally enchanting in a storybook kind of way. The entire town is listed as a World Heritage Site, which is a big deal and puts it on a par with our Mesa Verde National Park in terms of cultural significance. It, too, has earned that WHS United Nations designation. I doubt I’ll travel again, but these travelogues are interesting, free and I get to see friendly, upbeat people. What’s not to like about that? 

I just finished reading The Light Between Oceans which centered on an Australian lighthouse keeper and his wife who desperately wanted a baby and who was recovering from her third miscarriage when an infant and a dead man washes up on shore in a rowboat. The husband wants to report it but the wife talks him into burying the body and passing the baby off as their own. Four years later it all unravels into a storyline that was turned into a major motion picture. Near the end of her life she’s still plagued with the guilt over what they did and she asks her husband how he was able move past the guilt after the baby was returned to its rightful family. “To have any kind of a future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past,” he replied. My past is not filled with guilt but as a widow those words struck a chord. Why can’t sage and quotable advice like that rolled off my tongue? ©

PHOTO: Kotor, Montenegro at night.

24 comments:

  1. I wish I could tell you when the remembering days get better or fade. I suppose some memories take longer to pale than others. It's been that way in my life, anyway.
    Good to hear your roof has been repaired, at least temporarily anyway. A new roof is a major expenditure. Have you considered a metal roof? Sure, they cost more, but add value to the house - a good selling point.
    A new someone to carry on the family name. That's a heavy burden on one so small. They need to have more than one!
    The travelogue sounds interesting. I watched a Blu-ray on Wild China - awesome places.
    That book sounds extremely sad. I imagine that wonderful line you like so well took six or more rewrites until they got it perfect. You're wise, don't worry ...

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    1. I know, I have to remember the number of times authors rewrite those wise and memorable lines. Heck, even this blog goes through two drafts before it's ready to publish through on the third.

      A metal roof would be awesome. Love the sound in the rain.

      My great-nephew already has a baby girl and I don't think they plan on anymore. :( I need to talk one of my great-nieces into name a girl with our surname for a first name. Don't think it's going to happen, though there are many women who do have that for first name.

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  2. Yesterday wa MaryLou's birthday and she was 69 years of age. You know, she may be 69 but she looks 50. My wife has taaken great care of herself. Me, my granddaughter says grandpa, you look 80. Not really but Marylou looks great. Even her voice, if she's on the phone, people say can I speak to your mother or father. LOL
    I'm glad that the wind didn't really destroy your roof. My fence, well there are areas that will have to fixed and the man will have to make a new gate. It's not that bad. Total cost will be $800. I'm satisfied. I think that I'm going to have get back to reading my books now that the Spring and summer is here.
    Sorry about having a bad April. Keep strong my lovely friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. The windstorm that got the roofs on my street is the same one that came your way and destroyed your fence. I was lucky on my roof but the clock is ticking on its life.

      I've been on a reading kick here. Hope you find some good reads.

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  3. While living in Texas we went trough getting a new roof two times. Hail damage both times. Both paid for by insurance. Our entire neighborhood got roofs. From that experience I'd say go with the crew of immigrants. They worked much harder in our neighborhood than the 'American' crews.

    Bob is one of 12 children fathered by his father. Would you believe the name will run out with our grandson if he doesn't have a son. Out of all the many grandchildren our son was the only one to have a son. Lots and lots of girls though.

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    1. The crew that took a week, I swear sat around on top of the roof doing nothing half the time. I like the idea of getting it done in one or two days because of the dog and chance of rain, so you can be sure that's a question I'll ask.

      That's amazing about your husband's family and only one grandson to maybe carry on the name. Mine I can understand because each generation had so few kids to begin with.

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  4. The first robin always was a huge deal for us. Sometimes, they got there a little early, and had some uncomfortable days before things improved.

    I feel for Levi. For the past two weeks, they've been pounding in new metal pilings in the marina. It's quite an operation, with a crane on a barge, a tug, and the biggest danged pile driver you've ever seen. Every time they would start up, under the bed she'd go. It wasn't so terribly noisy, but there was enough vibration that my computer monitor would shiver and shake here on the desk, so I'm sure that was distressing her as much as anything.

    We're in line for some real weather tonight and tomorrow, or so they say. I'm hoping they're wrong, since hail, tornadoes, straight line winds, etc. are all in the mix right now. I do not need the power to go off. I have things to do!

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    1. I love it when you write about the marina. You live such an interesting life there and in your travels.

      Stay safe!!!!!!

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  5. We got a metal roof that looks like tile! 50 year transferable warranty and even the realtors thought it was real. It's put over your existing roof so we didn't hear the rain pinging. Also is fire resistant ... good to have if your neighborhood has lots of trees.

    CONGRATS on the new little guy!!! Little people are our future.

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    1. I need to look into that because I do worry about my roof catching on fire around the 4th with all the fireworks this neighborhood likes.

      It's fun to watch my nieces and nephew in their grandparent roles.

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  6. H found a leak in our roof yesterday. :( I hope you can find someone reliable. I'm always cautious about things like that.
    My MIL was so happy when we had a son. H's brother had three girls, so there was no one to carry on the family name until we had a son. I'll have to tell my son that story. He has two girls and one son. So the name goes on.
    So sorry that April is difficult to navigate for you. I hope this year is a bit easier.
    I enjoy hearing about your travelogues.
    Huge congrats on the new baby boy! Nothin's better than a new baby.


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    1. We actually are expecting three babies this summer. Sometimes I can't believe the population explosion we're having in the family after decades of no babies at all.

      When people trace family history most people concentrate on the male side of the family and the other side of the family history gets lost over time. With modern women keeping their names or joining hers with her husband's maybe having a boy to carry on a name will be come less important in the future.

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  7. Such an interesting post! I don't think the pain of loss ever goes away entirely, although it may be less at times.

    Re the roof shingles, I am puzzled. Here (where weather not as extreme as yours) we have terracotta (the best), and concrete (cheaper) roof tiles, some have been there for 60+ years. Metal roofs have taken off in recent years. The idea of replacing a roof every 15+ years is for me, incomprehensible.

    I just read a summary of the novel. I hear enough sad tales to not want to seek such books out. A few months ago, an old colleague related to me about a woman who, with her children, left her domineering husband, fearing that he was cowing the chlildren's spirit with his tyranny. The children are now adults, busy in their lives. Their father died, alone, some years ago. The mother now grieves the loss of her marriage, and being alone in her old age. For the first time, she realised that her dead husband was not all to blame for the family breakdown and this looking at the past is killing her into the future. Then I reading of cold cases, children lost/abducted and the parents died grief-stricken, never finding the truth (I can't even begin to imagine the grief). In some cases, the perpetrator has now been found and charged some 60+ years after the event, with only the siblings left to see justice meted out. Its enough to make you cry your heart out.

    My own 'project' which I've been putting off is my garage, now resident to what sounds like, at night, a family of possums. Last night, they ran across the tiled roof and it was like galloping horses, or distant thunder. Its a catch-22, do I get possums removed, and then garage fixed or vice versa?! And do I want them evicted from the garage, to invade the roof innards?! So Life goes on. ~ Libby

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    1. Terracotta roofs are not common in snow climates. I don't think I've ever seen one in Michigan except as decorations on a Mexican restaurants or turn of the century estates. I've never even heard of a concrete roof on a house here, probably be too heavy with a snow pack on top. Tin roofs used to be popular on farm houses decades ago here but now you'd have to see a lot of roofs before you'd find a tin one up here. In the south, all three are probably more common. Replacing roofs every 15-20 years in the norm here where we use mostly asphalt shingles. The guy who repaired mine said there is a new material just coming on the market I need to look at.

      I don't know why I picked that book to read. I usually don't go for things that center on babies and motherhood. It was well written though.

      I remember your possums from last year. I'm glad I don't have that problem. Levi probably helps with that.

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  8. The book you read brought to mind the plot line of 'A Place to Call Home' on public television. Well written anything keeps us engaged.

    The thought of replacing a roof is stressful for anyone who has never done it alone. Your roof may have more life in it than you think, but it's wise to prepare yourself.

    The photo of Kotor makes me want to go there. I was painting my hall ceiling several years ago listening to Rick Steves talk about Estonia and I wanted to go there too. The 'little' countries are often the most beautiful.
    I love hearing about your life!

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    1. My life is so ordinary that it still boggles my mind that people keep reading my blog. But more than anything else, it's my blog that keeps me active...so I find things to do to have something to write about.

      A Place to Call Home looks like an interesting series. I've seen it advertised but can't get it the channel it's on. Anything set in Australia has a built-in charm, trying to figure out the language/slang/phrases that are unique down under.

      My husband and dad both replaced their own roofs many times over. Dad on a house and cottage and my husband on rental property and out houses. So this will be a brand new experience all the way around for me. They both could do anything.

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    2. You are a natural story teller, and that makes all the difference. We have a sense of being there and feeling what you feel. I'd read about a routine trip to the grocery store if you wrote it!

      Out houses? More than one?!

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    3. Thank you!

      That should have been our houses, not outhouses and yes, we had four at one time. We sold two rental places before my husband's stroke and then I sold both our other houses afterward to build another wheelchair accessible place that I still live in.

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  9. I love that quote!!!! I'm glad for pink-letter days because they don't hurt as much, just good memories, however some of them seem to stay red-letter for a very long time! I had to have a new roof, and some new boards, 3 months after Fred died. It almost did me in, but was completed in 2 days--also by non-English speaking men. They did a great job and tidied up everything before they left.

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    1. It's that a great quote, it fits so many past regrets, hurts and painful situations.

      I can't imagine having to do a roof so soon after losing a spouse. It would have done me in!

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  10. I laughed about you publishing the big secret in your blog. People tell me their secrets all the time,and I don't know why because I'm what one of my former teaching colleagues calls a "high discloser" -- not secretive at all about my own life. Since the "big secrets" people are telling me are usually not things I would keep secret in my own life, I either have to will myself to forget them as soon as the person tells me it's a secret (usually after they've disclosed the information to me, grr) or very likely I'll forget it's supposed to be a secret and spill the beans. -Jean

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    1. I'm a lot the same way. My life is an open book. I had a sister-in-law who'd tell me stuff then tell me not to say anything to anyone, but it didn't take long to figure out that she'd tell everyone herself. LOL

      As for why people tell you their secrets, it's probably because you're an easy person to talk with who gives good advice.

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  11. I'm a terrific Secret Keeper. If I ever feel the need to blab, I just tell my two cats.

    Whether or not your Red Letter Days ever fade is a personal thing, I think. For my own Sadnesses (and I am not a widow, so they are not comparable, of course), I was sure I would always be actively In Grief. That I would never be able to see those RLDs go by without reliving them.

    I was wrong.

    In time, my Grief was replaced by fonder memories, and the sadness by mostly wistfulness. Again, my griefs are not for a husband, but I hope, perhaps, in time, your Grief will fade into Fond Wistfulness.

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    1. Grief is grief, no matter the relationship we miss. I saw a great video that says it's not a desirable thing think we can "get over grief"---that we have to acknowledge our grief in order to bring forth the good memories. I'm mostly at the fond wistfulness stage except for a few dates on the calendar.

      Thanks for the comment!

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