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, September 30, 2017

The Dog, Dying, Hillary, Laurel, Eleanor, and Victoria---Oh My!



I will never understand why the dog always wants to take one of his stuffie toys outside on his first trip in the morning to pee. Does he think his frog, duck or squirrel needs to pee too? Does he not trust me with his toys? I’ve never played with them without him being present, but Levi might not know that fact of his furry little life. It took a long time to train him to leave his playmates on top of the deck when he goes down to his duty yard and often times when he comes back up the steps Levi will sun bath lying next to his stuffie. It’s his ten o’clock ritual here on Widowhood Lane while type on the other side of the kitchen window. 

I heard a story the other day about woman who died and when her daughter got in town to plan the funeral she had the woman’s dog put down. Just like that. Didn’t ask around to see if anyone would take him. Didn’t give him a chance to find another home. I tell everyone who will listen that Levi has a little stippling that follows him for his care, should I die before he does. The idea of putting down such a sweet and likeable dog like Levi for no reason other than my death inconvenienced someone makes me sick. I don’t know. Maybe she thought the dog was unadoptable and she was doing the lesser of two evils. But I doubt that. The person who told me this story said the daughter “isn’t a dog person.” I hate thinking about this topic. 

I also hate thinking about dying. I’m not ready yet and I carry around too much guilt because I waste so much time. I’ve always been a self-absorbed time waster but now that the hour glass is running out of sand, I wish I had more to show for my time on earth. Yadda, yadda, yadda. You’ve heard me sing this song before: Poor me! I’m in one of those moods again. I’m beating myself black and blue because no one but the dog will miss me when I’m gone. This time, it might be Hillary Clinton’s fault. I’m three quarters of the way through her latest book. Now, there is a woman who didn’t let any grass grow under her feet. I know she’s a polarizing figure---I get that---but I also get the truth in the phrase Laurel Thatcher Ulrich coined: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Ulrich is a professor at Harvard and a historian of women’s history and she was referring to ladies like Elizabeth Cady Stanton who had a chance encounter with a runaway slave that caused her to break with conventional behavior to become an important figure in the Woman’s Suffrage Movement. Yup, I understand why Hillary identifies with that “well-behaved” line. I wish I could. 

I admire Hillary. With her pragmatism and geekiness she would have been a good president. To the haters who don't trust her I say, "If she did a tenth of what the conspiracy sites and rumor mills claim she’s guilty of doing she’d have superpowers." No one living in a fish bowl, like she’s done since college, could get away with that much "junk" without superpowers. I’m glad this woman I admire admired Eleanor Roosevelt and followed her words of advice, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right---for you'll be criticized anyway. ‘You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.’” Interestingly enough, Eleanor was quoting an evangelist’s sermon delivered back in 1836. He was preaching about how the Bible contradicts itself. “You can and you can't-You shall and you shan't-You will and you won't-And you will be damned if you do-And you will be damned if you don't." The things Google can teach you. I wish it could teach me how to be young again. Google has many tricks up its sleeves but so far, it doesn’t have superpowers either. 

I saw an interview of Judi Dench and Ali Fazal about a new movie coming out titled, Victoria & Abdul. It’s based on the true story of elderly Queen Victoria’s unlikely friendship with a young servant from India, an 1887 story brought to light by a journalist who studied their journals and diaries. In the official synopsis of the movie it says the pair “humorously explores questions of race, religion, power, and the farce of Empire through the prism of a highly unusual and deeply moving friendship.” In the interview these two leading actors shared that at first Victoria was joyless, even though she was the richest and most powerful person in the world at the time, but she was able to find a new zest for life after meeting the servant. That’s the kind of movie I need to get me out of my funk! I thought. We’ve got four multiplex theaters in town with a zillion screens between them but guess what! The only play time I could find for the movie is at 8:30 at night. What is wrong with people? They make a movie that appeals to people in my age bracket but they don’t consider the fact that many of us don’t drive after dark! Jeez! When it’s a box office failure someone will say, “Told you, senior citizens don’t go to the movies.” ©


38 comments:

  1. If only we could read a dog's mind or they talked and they could reveal what it is they are thinking. Jill leaves her hedgehog by my bed while I'm sleeping. Does she think I need a comfort toy? She takes Jack's teddy to bed at night, has since he went to the bridge. No telling what is going on in her mind.

    I don't know what they will do about Jill. DH is not as 'in love' with her as he was with Jack. If I die before she does, I cannot predict her fate. If she dies first, I don't think I'll be able to handle it. I most certainly wouldn't have her put to sleep and would have to haunt anyone who did that. That woman had to be off by half a bubble!

    I am not afraid of dying except for the Jill problem. I used to think I had to leave some kind of 'mark', something that said, 'I was here.' I have failed miserably. In less than years unless you are Marie Curie or the like, you are forgotten anyway. Sigh ... Nobody will want to google me.

    I want to see that movie. I'll have to wait, of course, until it's for rent or sale.

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    1. Jill taking Jack's teddy bear to bed and leaving you the hedgehog is hauntingly sweet. She still thinks about him!

      There are so many no-kill shelters around that woman could have taken her mother's dog, it makes me mad that she didn't take that option.

      I guess if we're adding to the pool of goodness in the world we're leaving something behind worth being proud of. Can't wait for that movie to show up on a DVD.

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  2. I usually enjoy Judi Dench films, but my bedtime is 9:00. LOL

    Hillary has tough skin. If your in politics, you better have the hide of an alligator. I don't think there is a nastier business. I haven't read her new book, but it was good to see her interviews while promoting it.

    I will take Levi. I love him already. :)

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    1. Her interviews are really the best parts of the book. Although I'm just getting into the part about the part the Russians played in the election. Every American should be outraged by that.

      Levi is a low maintenance dog except for his days at the doggie spa. Unless that changes he'd find a home if given a chance.

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  3. Hard to understand how or why someone would treat a pet dog that way. Wonder how old the dog was....if it was unadoptable....if it had some terminal disease -- or there was something no one knew about....or at least I'd like to think there was some reason.

    I hope we learn more of the truth about our election disruption and how it might have impacted Hilliary.

    Too bad there isn't some inexpensive car service for early evening movies available, especially when movies like Judy Dench is usually in, so you and others could go. That would be a good activity for groups that volunteer to help "seniors". Heard an interview with Dench and movie sounds good. We get daytime showings, matinees, and also one day a week is reduced rate for seniors -- some are groups bused in from their facility of which there are several around here.

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    1. We have Uber in town but I haven't tried it yet and wouldn't do my first trip at night when finding a back up if it didn't show up would be harder.

      I belong to a movie and lunch club and we never have trouble finding afternoon movies. I'd call one of the theaters to see if they'll be adding more showing but you can't get a live person anymore.

      According to my friend the woman's dog was about the same age as Levi who is nine. He's got another good five years left.

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  4. I relate to this post. I searched for this movie and it is playing nowhere near me. And I live in Fla....land of the retired.lol. I'm a widow too and like you, try to keep busy and social and join groups, eat out a lot etc. but I've been thinking about death lately more than usual. Probably because I'm reading "Being Mortal." A good book but depressing. I fear the dying process (pain, loneliness, inability to make my own choice of when it's time) more than actually being dead....although even though I'm a non believer, there's always that "what if." I actually don't want more in an afterlife situation. When it's over, I want it to be over...or do I? Confusing times for sure.
    I admire strong women who had a full life too, because mine has certainly been not like that...just very ordinary. But then I guess most people's are..ordinary that is.
    And the lady who had the dog put down! How selfish and terrible. What would her poor Mother think! Just disgusts me how selfish people are. No wonder the world is such a mess!

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    1. I just lost a LONG comment---almost as long as an entire blog post---when I went to publish it to reply to your comment! I’m not sure I have the heart to reconstruct it but I do remember sharing Ulrich’s link explaining the phrase she coined. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2007/09/ulrich-explains-that-well-behaved-women-should-make-history/ and a quote of hers from her book by the same name: “Some history-making is intentional; much of it is accidental. People make history when they scale a mountain, ignite a bomb, or refuse to move to the back of the bus. But they also make history by keeping diaries, writing letters, or embroidering initials on linen sheets. History is a conversation and sometimes a shouting match between present and past, though often the voices we most want to hear are barely audible. People make history by passing on gossip, saving old records, and by naming rivers, mountains, and children. Some people leave only their bones, though bones too make a history when someone notices.”
      Part of my discontent with life now is because from the time I was young I’ve wanted to make history although I didn’t put it in those words. I have two very famous Revolutionary War era women in my family tree plus Amelia Earhart to make me feel like a failure. But Ulrich is helping me see the first two in a different light than I grew up with. These women were just living their lives in extraordinary times, doing what they could to advance the country. It was only because of their letters and diaries and passion for change that they became known centuries later. Laura Engalls Wilder, when she wrote the Little House on the Prairie series, I’ll bet never would have predicted how much she influenced a whole generation of kids and she was just writing about her then ordinary life growing up. I’m not sure where I’m going with this but I did have a point when I started out.
      Want to end saying that I, too, fear the dying process.

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    2. Mary--Famous documentary filmmaker Ken Burns says, "There are no ordinary lives." Undoubtedly you have done extraordinary things in your life, merely by living it. I'm certain of it. Every single person has had a defining moment in his or her life; he or she has had a moment of time when asked to be brave, selfless, or merely present in order to witness something in our incredible world so that it did not go unnoticed and unappreciated with human connection or understanding. I'm sure you have many stories to tell.

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    3. That's fits in along with what Ulrich wrote about.

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  5. I do want to see that movie too. I might have to wait until it comes out on Comcast and watch. I have sometimes wondered if those kinds of women are so driven because they aren't quite sure of themselves or have the self confidence they show to the public. Both Hillary and Eleanor's husbands had affairs, which must have made them feel some lack of self esteem. Pursuring careers gave them something of their own, that they were good at, in some ways, better than their husband's careers. Of course, they probably wouldn't have had such careers without the "name" behind them.

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    1. Isn't that a sad statement about women's value that "they wouldn't have had such careers without the 'name' behind them." Unfortunately, we'll never really know how much truth or fiction there is in the statement about these two women. I just hope the daughters of today have an easier time getting the credit they deserve.

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    2. Actually, HRC had self confidence in spades, especially in college, where she was already making a name for herself not only academically, but also in legal and advocacy arenas. This was well before she even met WJC, whose name, by the way, she only decided to use because her using her maiden name was polling as a huge negative in his early political races, and she didn't want to stand in his way.

      I won't go on and on here about how her work in Washington, DC, stands on its own merit. You can do your own homework if you so choose. And Eleanor Roosevelt's enormous contributions are a part of America's history as well. To say that all of their incredibly important work is merely the result of male infidelity is insulting, I think. And astonishingly demeaning.

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    3. I wish I had written your reply. You are spot on.

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  6. I all ready have a volunteer to take Callie and have put her in my will to help cover expenses. Still looking for a volunteer for Minnie. Old cats aren't so easy.
    Love Hillary and will get her book soon.
    Judi Dench is my favorite female actor and that movie is on my list. May have to wait till it hits Netflix though for the nearest theater around here is a 3 hour round trip.

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    1. Three hours round trip to a theater! Wow! I can get to three in under 15 minutes. Thank goodness for Netflix in your case.

      It's got to be comforting to know that Callie has a place to go. When my husband's mother had to go into a nursing home she made him promise to take her cat. The cat was the meanest, nastiness cat on the face of the earth but he kept his promise and the cat was 10 and lived to 17 or 18. So work on extracting a deathbed promise out of someone. LOL

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  7. I understand your worry about Levi. I share your lament about not having done enough in this life; I often feel I'm such a slacker. I love Hillary; she still inspires me as a listen to all her book tour interviews -- she would have been great President, but would have been hounded by partisanship and misogyny; really looking forward to that movie too!

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    1. You are by no means a slacker. You're my citizen activist inspiration.

      Regarding Hillary, I often wonder if her husband had kept his zipper up how much different it might have been for her regarding the misogyny and partisanship that haunts her. Right wingers like to throw it around that she should have left him but how many women who's husband have cheating in less public ways stuck with their husbands and made their marriages better through counseling like they did? It's what churches and the marriage vows say couples SHOULD do---forgive and learn from our mistakes. And they do have a true marriage, not the "for show" kin that the haters think.

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  8. Our Dixie has three stuffed toys she takes to bed with her, actually us because she sleeps at the foot of our bed, one she actually uses as a pillow.

    I can't imagine having a dog put down because the owner passed away, that is just wrong

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    1. Dixie is creating her wolf pack at bed time, I'll bet. Isn't it funny how dogs can bond with one toy over another. I let Levi pick out his own in the pet store and he passes over a lot to find THE ONE.

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  9. Poor pup ... I am going to believe the dog had something unadoptable about him. Have you asked anyone to adopt Levi should something happen?

    Judi Dench. LOVE her acting. Although I don't go to the movie theater any more. I need the convenience of taking a potty break and turning the volume down or up to suit my ears and the not driving part!

    So far, I don't think about the dying part. But I remember Mr. Ralph's last months and he sure was happy to have me around, and to be lucky enough to be in Maui. You just get what you get. Lucky enough to live in Oregon so if there is more pain/suffering than I can handle, I can stop my life. Mr. Ralph had that option all lined up (two Drs need to sign documents predicting six months or less to live AND a terminal painful condition) but he didn't want to die in the rain!

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    1. My friend didn't think the dog was unadoptable.

      I have an lined up an animal behaviorist in the area who Levi has boarded with and who has taught dog obedience classes we've taken to place him a home if my
      nieces can't. The boarder works with all kinds of rescue groups. It's spelled out in my will but you can't MAKE relatives follow it.

      I really hate the Oregon law but we've already discussed in in nauseam. I am glad, though, that it gives you comfort.

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  10. I hope there was more to that dog story; that it was sick and not eating due to grief, or it was elderly and suffering and should have been eased out of its misery long ago or something. It's sad, no matter what.

    Zydrunas, my granddog, always brings a toy to the door when he is getting leashed to go out. Then he drops it on his way out the door.

    I love the idea that Levi, as your heir, comes with a little stipend for his continued care. You're a good pet parent.

    As far as Thinking About Dying--I try not to. Especially since I do not yet have a fancy chaise longue upon which to do it beautifully and properly.

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    1. Unfortunately, I don't think the dog was sick or adoptable.

      My mom always called our dogs her granddogs, too. I loved the reminder of her.

      Some movie star actually did that with a chaise lounge. LOL

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  11. I'm scared of lonely old age, and a long drawn out death, but not the end itself. No wish to leave any mark on the world, its all dust to dust. The only ones who'd really mourn my death are my husband and parents, and I die after them. I'm grateful for that.

    Not everyone is an dog person. Perhaps she did the dog a kindness, in that he did not pine for his mistress. I'd rather an animal be put to sleep, rather than be left hungry and uncared for.

    I strongly support euthanasia, and want to go at a time of my choosing, to avoid prolonged dying. My feeling is that if you put an animal to sleep to put an end to pain/suffering, why can't the same kindness be extended to humans?

    Judi Dench has had a remarkably long career - and going strong, even now! Ditto Maggie Smith. Personally, I find the storyline a bit far fetched and cannot imagine Victoria Regina deigning to even talk with an inferior, and that too a black person! Nothing unusual, she was a person of that time. I'll wait to see the movie on TV. ~ Libby

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    1. According to an article I read there is a great deal of physical evidence that Victoria and Abdul became close friends---detailed writings by them and others over the course of a couple of years, plus he was included into painting/official portraits. She was a person of her times but she was a very lonely person until he dared to show her warmth. I'd kind of like to read the book the movie is based on.

      Here, we have lots of societies and rescue groups that take in dogs and cats. Strays don't roam the streets....maybe in inner cities, but not in most neighborhoods. I've heard of a few situations where it was the dying person's wish to have their pets put down when they go. I hate the selfishness of that, too.

      Euthanasia for people is such a personal and hot button topic. To me, it's a slippery slope like the movement for mandatory organ donations for accident victims. But we've had this discussion before and it's one I don't enjoy and I always hate it when it comes up. LOL




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    2. I'm with you Libby...the long drawn out death is something I obsess over at times...my biggest fear. I'm very much in favor of being able to control our own lives.
      On another note, I watched on Netflix, the new movie with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford...."Old Souls At Night. Very touching and well done...about widowhood and loneliness

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    3. I wish I could see that movie, if only to see them together again.

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  12. That's just horrid about that dog!!!

    That movie doesn't really interest me but I give Dench much kudos for continuing to act with macular degeneration!!!

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    1. Acting is one of the few occupations where you can work in your golden years and have fun doing it. I didn't know Dench had macular degeneration.

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  13. I don't understand the concept of "wasted" time. I don't consider my time wasted if I am enjoying the sensory pleasures of life or resting or just letting my mind wander. Recently, I read the book Rest by Alex Pang, which argues for the importance of just this kind of time-wasting in the functioning of our brains. If he is right, we would all be smarter, more creative and more productive if we "wasted" time a bit more often. -Jean

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    1. I should be very smart then, if Pang is right. LOL I think my guilt comes from placing more value on what you can see has been accomplished than on what other kinds of things like readings, thinking, relaxing, etc. As long as there is work that needs doing, I feel guilty if I do something else.

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  14. Okay Jean that is just horrific about that woman's dog. My goodness how heartless on so many levels.
    I don't particularly care for Hillary but I did vote for her. I think she would have made a great president. Smart, knowledgeable and experienced. I have been most upset by her interviews of late. I hate when people play the victim and she seems to be on a pity poor me tour and it's not becoming. She is better than that.

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    1. Her book doesn't come off like she's playing the victim. But I can see why some people would think that just hearing snippets of what she says about the election. I think it's one of those damned if does and damned if she doesn't situation. People want her to just go away with her tail between her legs like a beaten dog but she was writing for history more than anything else, her side. And only she can tell that story.

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  15. Jam-packed post!

    The dog story isn't a one off - it happens a lot, as do older dogs being dumped into rescues because the owner's don't want to make the extra effort to care for them. Old dogs are generally very little extra trouble and so, so sweet I can't imagine parting with one before it's necessary.

    I have worked with a Cairn terrier rescue for many years and many the stories are very sad indeed. As a result, I only adopt dogs 8 years or older because it's very hard to find homes for them. Us oldsters owe each other!

    If the dog was healthy there's a distinct possibility the vet didn't put the dog down, and placed it with a rescue. I've heard of that happening too.

    Hillary. I admire her accomplishments too, and because they are substantial, I don't understand why she would subject herself to the ugliness she must have known was ahead. I also don't understand why the electoral college system is still in place.

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    1. I've heard of vets doing that, too. There are so many rescue and no kill shelters now it seems so senseless to not give a pet a chance.

      We've got to find a way to get the ugliness out of policies or no one of quality will want to subject themselves to it in the future. Getting rid of Citizen's United (and the electoral college) would be a great first step. It's all about money.

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  16. I've already made arrangements with my cat's vet in case of my sudden demise. I am hoping to outlive her, actually (she's fifteen now) but the way things are going, she may hit twenty, or even twenty-five. Good grief. Anyway, I'm leaving a sum for the vet to care for her and try to find a family whom she'll accept. That's the problem. She's such a one person cat that all she does when she has a kitty sitter is hide under the bed. I wouldn't want her to have years of that ahead of her. If she simply refused to have anything to do with others, and stopped eating (as she has in the past) it might be best for her to be gently eased into the next world. I'd never do it to her, no matter what -- but it makes me feel awful to think about how awful it could be for her.

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    1. Cats, I think, do have a harder time finding homes especially older ones. I have to believe that leaving behind some money for vet care sweetens the decision for someone. But don't forget to add that any left over money goes to a charity of your choice so someone doesn't hurry up putting her down just for the money.

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