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, May 3, 2017

Sowing Seeds for Friendship


Monday was what I call the Running of the Bulls down at the senior hall---a day that happens five times a year where we have to register for the events we want to attend over the upcoming months. We get a sixteen page newsletter in the mail, have a week to look it over and make our decisions, then not a second before 9:00 AM on an appointed day we’re allowed to respond by e-mails. By the end of that first day they will register between 1,500 to 1,700 RSVPs. The running of the bulls comes from all of us wanting the earliest time stamp we can manage on our e-mails. It could mean beating someone else out for a seat on the bus for a day trip, a ticket for a play or baseball game, a seat at a lecture or luncheon, etc. Many of those RSVPs will end up on waiting lists but if your whole social life revolves around the outcome of registration day, it can give you a rush if you snagged what you wanted. This time there were twenty-one events offered but I made a decision to cut way back on my summer sign-ups. I only RSVPed to one lecture, an ice-cream social and three Gatherings (for people looking for friends). It’s a risk for me because I usually pepper my summer with twice that, including a day trip or two. If I’m moaning and groaning this summer about being bored I’ll have no one to blame but myself. I did agonize over whether or not I wanted to go to an off-Broadway production of Wicked. The $85 for a matinee and transportation was probably a good deal but still that’s a big chunk of change.

My summers since my husband died have all had a theme. The first two summers were devoted to downsizing his stuff. The third summer I was obsessed with condo shopping that, in the end, I decided I’m not ready for yet. Last summer I was on a mission to find friends and that’s starting to pay off. Now that summer is on the horizon, six of us from the Gatherings set up monthly brunch dates and we had our first one this week where I’m sad to report we didn’t find a plan for world peace but we did talk about books, movies and going to an artists' street fair later in May, which will be our forth outing. Stepping up the number of times a month we see each other should speed up the developing friendships. “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are the seeds of today.” That saying is written on a clock that hangs in my garage. The clock was supposed to go to the Salvation Army but that’s as far as it would go without a gun held at its back.

Anyway, if I was working on a grade school theme paper on how I plan to spend my summer I’d write: “This summer I want to play with the Gathering Girls and make our budding friendships stronger and play at the gym and make my body stronger. I want to be happy and healthy and smile a lot and clean out my clothes closet.” My closet is so full that even my underwear is screaming in unison, “Get me out of here before I suffocate!”

Friendship means different things to different people. Certainly, all of us Gathering Girls want someone to hang out with and I, for one, am excited about the possibility of finding summer bonding experiences. Beyond that I’m hoping to develop a close friend or two with whom I can trade favors in case of emergencies---rides to the med center or we locked our keys in the car kind of emergencies. Friends count on each other in good times and bad. Funny thing is I never worried about those sorts of things when my husband was alive. His nephews live near-by and I figured they wouldn’t refuse helping their favorite uncle, if we ever called. (We didn't.) When they were younger Don was the good time uncle who rode them around in the back of his yellow convertible, who took them to the beach, hiking in the woods and filled them up with good memories. But Don is gone now and so is his nephew’s mother, father and the family get-togethers. As time marches on the connections with my husband’s family gets weaker and weaker. The blooms of yesterday are fading and ready to spread their seeds of friendship elsewhere, to a new generation where they’ve become the favorite uncles and the grandfathers who bounce babies on their knees. 

Looking back to past summers and to my plans for the upcoming sun-washed season apparently whipped my subconscious into a tizzy. Last night, dreams woke me up five-six times but the only one I remember is one in which I was stressed out because my husband was traveling around the country in a motor home. I could track him by a satellite feed, see what he was doing but I wanted to ring his neck because he wouldn’t answer his cell phone. What a topsy-turvy dream! I’m taking the dream to mean I still miss the best friend I ever had even though the dream dictionary indicates it’s more about suppressed anger carried over from my awake life. Oh, brother, now I have to spend the afternoon figuring out what I have to be angry about. ©

18 comments:

  1. You could certainly make worse choices than spending your summer nurturing budding friendships and making your body stronger. I'm so impressed with your gym attendance. It sounds like you are reaping the benefits.

    I'm going to push myself into my closet today, and if not toss a few things out, at least organize everything. I have to put some of my winter pants at one end and all my summer pants at the other end. Same thing with the shirts. At this point I have to sort through everything to find one thing to wear. That has to be remedied .

    Looking forward to hearing about all your adventures this summer! :)

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    1. At most senior hall events you sit next to different people unless you prearrange to sit with a buddy so you don't really form friendships that way. Fun, but I hoping for something different this summer.

      The closet problem is getting out of hand here. I buy stuff (rarely) but I never get rid of anything and some stuff is really worn out or doesn't fit or I shouldn't have bought in the first place. I need a plan to tackle that job. Hope you blog about it when you do yours.

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  2. I doubt you'll find yourself bored this summer. Think a little of that might do you some good after the fast pace you put yourself through before. $85 for a ticket at a senior rate? Ye gods, I doubt I could/would go anywhere. Other stuff will come up.
    What a dream! Frustrating for you while you dreamed it, I'm sure. There is no accounting for all dreams. I can figure some of them out, but stuff like finding a bust of Lurch (Addams Family) in my freezer, cutting my mother up and stuffing her parts in a garbage can, and flying over our old house with my sister while carrying said can are kind of lost on me. Maybe you are still angry at Don for leaving you with no one to really talk to. Just an idea.
    I have started cleaning out my closet - it's stuffed with totes full of odds and ends, clothes, jewelry stuff, wrong size bedding, and old computer components. I have also stored some of my youngest son's personal items, books etc. I can't stuff any more into it. I'd really like to have a closet again.
    So many of my old 'flowers' of yesterday are gone, too. :-(

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    1. I just looked up the ticket prices at the performance hall and for Wicked they go from $110 to $723! Yes, seven hundred...that's not a typo. There are lots of prices in between the low and the high, depending on where you sit. Everyone in the Orchestra area are paying over $500. I can't believe people pay that just to see a musical! I knew our director gets good prices for bringing in 50 people but I didn't know how good.

      Your take on my dream could be right or it could come from getting frustrated that communicating with other senior has it challenges by email and cell phones. LOL
      I'm glad I never have dreams like yours! You've got to concentrate on your actions during the dream, more than the settings when trying to figure them out.

      Maybe we bloggers need a closet cleaning challenge this summer with before and after photos.

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  3. Gosh, what a cool senior center you have. Know what you mean about friend you can count on. I found one here and it is a blessing. I also have a group that loves to eat out--that is always fun. Expanding the friendships should be easy for they most likely are looking for the same thing you are.

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    1. We do and it's unique for our area, too. The director started a group of senior hall directors in the area so hopefully she'll influence the rest to step up their game. The Gatherings were a brainchild of hers and the fact that just by going we've identified ourselves as open to finding new friends makes all the difference in the world how we interact.

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  4. I absolutely loved your statement "the blooms of yesterday." Such a healthy message to think about in those words.

    I continue to be impressed by your work at the gym. I do not suffer from osteoporosis or any of those bone conditions but my poor little sister-in-law is in such a mess right now. She's always, and still does, refused to do physical therapy or any activity that might trengthen her body. She's getting an injection in her back in a few days but doesn't seem to get the message those are expensive temporary relief at best, then she'll be back to where she is now. She should have started working on this problem when she was much younger.

    I have very few clothes and try to stay on top of my closet. At least there's something I'm not guilty of.

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  5. I try to come up with a good sentence like that for near the end. Doesn't always work, but I try.

    I've gotten treatment for osteoporosis for a lot of years now but I could have done more when I was younger in the exercise department. I can't wait until June when I get a full body scan to find out if the bone doctor can see a difference. There was improvement last June. That's too bad about your sister-in-law.

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  6. It sounds to me like you have it figured out Jean, making friends and also making time for them will only grow those friendships to where they will definitely be the type of friendship you will both depend on and cherish.

    As for the dream I say you do miss the best friend you ever had, and the anger just may be because he is not there with you, I'm no expert Jean this is just my opinion.

    Nice Post Lady.

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    1. All opinions welcome and appreciated here, Jimmy. I hope you're right about making time to build friendships. I think you're right.

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  7. I'm so happy to hear that your "Gathering Girls" group is gelling. I agree that having someone you can call in an emergency is important -- and tricky. The friend I used to call on most often in those situations is now ill and housebound and no longer able to drive. When my car died on the road and had to be towed to the dealership a few years ago, it took me three phone calls to find someone home who could meet me at the dealership and give me a ride home. -Jean

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    1. That's my biggest fear, car trouble. Most of the younger people who probably would help in a pinch change cell service so often I'm betting they'd be hard to track down by phone. Things are looking up though. A local grocery store just started a delivery and shopping service, a new med center is going up within five miles and my doctor is moving his office closer to where to live. All things to make my future easier.

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  8. Hi Jean. You should see " Wicked ". My golfing friend Gerry went to New York recently and he and his wife saw " Wicked " and he told me it was just wonderful.

    You know Jean, Friendships come in all sizes & shapes if you know what I mean. You may think that someone is a friend and eventually you find out that that person isn't really a friend while later on a person that you never really that was a friend, suddenly is. I consider many of my bloggers, friends and I never met them except Bee. I did meet her three times and I consider a very good friend. I consider you my friend even though we've never met. Four people we met at dinner on one of our cruises are great friends today. Friends are friends I say.
    Well, enjoy life my friend and I call you my friend Jean. Maybe someday you can go on one of our cruises and there we can enjoy our friendship. See ya Jean.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I don't know anyone who has seen Wicked who was disappointed. Maybe I'll change my mind and get on the waiting list.

      What you're saying about friends is so true. The blog community knows me better than people I see in person and have known for years. Friends are pigeonholed in various ways and activities we enjoy with them.

      If I sign up for a cruise it's going to be off the New England and Canadian coast.

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  9. I love your analogy to the running of the bulls and agree that your senior center is really on top of it!

    Might the 'Gathering Girls' be willing to exchange phone numbers for emergency pick ups? With rules (emergency only, no taxi available, no bus close by) so nobody gets stuck being anyone else's personal taxi? Is there taxi service in your area? I live on the Oregon Coast and there's no taxi service, but there are organizations which will transport you with a call ahead appointment. I volunteer at a thrift shop and the ladies there would most all come get me in a pinch, so I don't worry much about going without a car. There may even be Uber drivers around here! I haven't checked.

    How big is your town? There's the question I couldn't think of for your 'truth or dare' post!

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    1. I live in a city of 1,038,583 which includes the bedroom communities that are blended together with no way to tell where one starts and the other ends. (2015 statics)

      Public transportation is available in areas as close as five miles from here but not where I live. Taxis are rarely seen outside the downtown area. It's been years since I've even seen one on the road! I want to learn about Uber. Transportation is a big issue for seniors here. We can get a go-bus with a day or two call ahead of time but most people I know who use it complain about the service, not good for emergencies. The Gathering Girls, except for me, have kids and grandkids living in the area so they are their emergency default people to call. It's a little to early in our relationships to broach the topic and I'd rather have it come up organically when we've become good enough friends.

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  10. Transportation always is a problem. That's one reason I keep AAA road service. If they need to pluck you off the road, they also will take you home after they've delivered your car to the dealership or garage.

    The other good thing in this area is the patient pick-up service some medical clinics offer. When I had my eye surgery, I didn't want to depend on friends all the time, since there were...eight trips when I couldn't drive (four per eye.) All I had to do was call, make an appointment to be picked up, and into Houston (or home) I went. As I recall, it was $35 per trip, or $50 round trip, which isn't bad at all for a forty-five minute trip of about twenty-five miles.
    It is something you might look into, just for future reference.

    And, quite by accident, I came across something this morning that sure would make a great exercise video!

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    1. Thank you for mentioning the patient pick up for eye surgery! I never would have thought to ask if there is a service like that here and my biggest hold back to getting cataracts removed is all those follow up trips. My are "iffy" now.

      I have road service, too with both my car insurance and OnStar. My garage is good about renting cars for you if they are going to be more than a couple of hours working on your car.

      Can't wait to check out your video.

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