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, December 23, 2017

Widow Running out of Words



‘Flash Back Thursdays’ and ‘Wordless Wednesdays’ are bloggers’ tricks for taking a break from writing a post. Since my box of ideas was as empty as holes in Swiss cheese I thought, why not try that! So this morning I got lost in my old Planet Aphasia blog and in my first few years of this blog looking for something I could repost to save some time and effort. It took me so long to read and discard one post after another that I could have written Moby Dick….at least its syllabus. Not finding anything that fit my current frame of mind but a few puff pieces about how well “this little widow” is doing trying to make omelets out of the broken eggs in her Basket of Life Events, I turned to Facebook to distract me from my widow-ran-out-words problem and maybe find something to solve my gotta-write-something dilemma. 

The first thing I saw was a meme quoting J. Iron Word that was posted by a great-niece. It said, “The problem is you see yourself every day. So you don’t realize just how amazing you are.” I had no idea who J. Iron Word is so I googled him and along the way I landed on a photo of Jeremy Irons instead. He was all polished up looking like the successful English actor he is and I thought, if I had that face to look at in the mirror I’d be in love with myself. It didn’t take long to discover that poet J. Iron Word and Jeremy Irons are not one and the same, so back to Facebook I went. This time what caught my attention was a meme posted by another great-niece: “They don’t serve champagne at pity parties,” a quote by Cara Alwell Leyba. I’m sorry, life-coach Cara, but that simply isn’t true. I’ve read enough pity party posts written by widows to know that drinking too much sometimes come with the territory. Champagne doesn’t care if it’s invited to a celebration or a wake. Sparkling wine is sparkling wine if you’re grabbing what’s in the house to drown your sorrows. (If you're doing that, stop it! It doesn't help.)

It occurred to me that when I was the age of my two great-nieces I was getting my philosophical thoughts from reading Dr. Seuss to children. “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” But after fact checking myself I discovered that’s not exactly true. When I was their age I was studying the late, greats Socrates---“An unexamined life is not worth living.”----and Aristotle, “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” Crap! Of all the quotes by Aristotle, why did I have to run into that one right out of the gate? Pass the champagne, in case a pity party breaks out as I digest those words. 

It’s no secret that I love Country Western music, more precisely I love how the artists who write in that genre are able to tell stories using so few words. This afternoon I took myself out to lunch and on the way home I heard Lee Brice singing I Drive Your Truck. It’s about grieving someone and how driving that person’s truck makes the narrator feel closer to the deceased. I don’t remember ever hearing the song before and at first I wasn’t really listening to the lyrics and by the time I tuned into them I mistakenly thought they were about a man missing his wife. I’ve had pickup trucks on the brain recently---missing the one I used to drive---and it never occurred to me that a man would be singing about another man, his brother as it turned out:

“I leave that radio playing that same ole country station where ya left it. Yeah, man I crank it up. And you’d probably punch my arm right now, if you saw this tear rollin’ down on my face. Hey, man I’m tryin’ to be tough. And momma asked me this morning if I’d been by your grave but that flag and stone ain’t where I feel you anyway…..I find a field, I tear it up, ‘til all the pain’s a cloud of dust. Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck.”

The minute I got home I googled the song and I learned that it was co-written by three people and it was inspired by an interview of a Gold Star father who mentioned he drove his son’s truck to feel closer to him. From that one simple sentence a whole, award winning song immersed, a song that touches people where we live. And it’s easy to understand how driving a vehicle that belonged to another can make you feel closer. Many things that my husband loved make me feel that way…like his fleece-lined, rubber rain coat that I wear from time to time. It’s several sizes too big but when I’m folded inside it, protected from the elements, it doesn’t matter if others might mistake me for a bag lady. I feel his presence inside that coat. And I felt his presence inside his beloved 1978 Silver Anniversary Corvette before I sold it, a heart-breaking transaction of epic proportions. “Of epic proportions”---I can’t believe I’m going to end two blogs in a row with that phrase. I guess I really am running out of words.  ©

"These days when I'm missing you so much, I drive your truck."


Jeremy Irons

22 comments:

  1. Wonderful writing here, Jean, as you pulled so many seemingly disparate threads together to perfectly encapsulate your feelings.

    Have you ever read David Sedaris? He does it with alarming (and enviable) skill.

    While there really is No one alive who is youer than you, there is, as you adeptly counter, another soul who shares your body once you have found true love. And that soul stays behind, which can be comforting and painful by turns.

    How lucky you are, Jean, to have had something that made saying goodbye so hard...right?

    (See? You really did sort of repost something after all!) ;-)

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    1. I kind of felt guilty that I filled so much of my word count for this entry with quoted material. No, I've never even heard of David Sedaris. I just added him to my list of books to explore. Thanks!

      Ohmygod, you are right. I did repeat a theme here, didn't I. But I often feel that I'm just writing the same story over and over again which I suppose is normal for a person without multiple personalities. LOL

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    2. I hope you enjoy David Sedaris. He's a hoot -- although a bit raunchy at times. The first time I heard of him was when NPR broadcast him reading excerpts of his "Santaland Diaries" twenty-five years ago at Christmastime. I remember stopping in amazement in the middle of getting dressed for work and thinking "Am I really hearing this on public radio??" It was such a big hit that NPR has been replaying it every year since -- and that broadcast really launched David Sedaris's career. -Jean P.

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    3. I just started his "Theft by Finding Diaries." Too early to tell if I'll like it but raunchy probably won't bother me if I like his style.

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  2. Extremely well done and I think J Iron Word nailed you.

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    1. Don't you think that is true of most people? We all do some pretty awesome things every day but like J Iron Word said, we don't see our own awesomeness. When people post stuff like that on Facebook, I get lost is trying to figure out who that message is meant for---herself or someone in particular who is down on themselves. Drives me crazy not knowing the backstories on why memes are posted. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

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  3. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook as well. Leaning more towards the UGH and may just give it a way lower priority in my life.

    I've started a few of Sedaris' books but they just never grabbed me. Maybe it was the wrong stage of my life and I should give them another try?

    At least you WRITE on your specific days. When I can't settle on a topic ... I just don't write!

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    1. I lean towards the hate, too, on Facebook and I spend very little time there.

      I write on specific days even if I don't feel like writing or don't know what to write about because that's the only way to really learn how to write, by doing it. All the how-to advice books say you can't wait for inspiration.

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  4. Very well written blog Jean, I can feel the emotions flowing from your words, you are an excellent writer and the art of writing a post about having no words with such grace and style is something few can pull off so well.

    That is an excellent song by Lee Brice...

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    1. Awww...I am to please. LOL

      That song is amazing. It won two major awards for song writing and I can't believe this week was the first time I've heard it. (It's been around for a couple of years, now.) I REALLY, REALLY admire song writers.

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  5. Your mention of Moby Dick reminded me of a hilarious quote from Annie Dillard: "It is no less difficult to write a sentence in a recipe than sentences in Moby Dick. So you might as well write Moby Dick."

    I have a reader who's talked about her unwillingness to move from her present city because she senses her departed family members still hovering around her protectively. It's another version of your experience with the coat, and I think both make perfect sense.

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    1. I love that quote! I'm surprised I haven't run into it since I'm a sucker for collections of author advice books about how to write. Thanks for sharing.

      I suspect if we believe a departed love one is hovering around, they are. Our minds are very powerful.

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  6. I find it difficult to post at this time of year, because I AM in a mild pity party and just want to say Humbug to it all. This evening, I found myself thinking, "This time tomorrow, you will be done with the Christmas Eve party and home relaxing." What a Scroogie kind of thought to have!!!!!!!

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    1. I have trouble this time of year posting too. I don't want to put it out in the universe, in case it isn't true for other widows, BUT not having someone really close in my life makes other people's holiday joy harder to hear. Plus you and I both have our sadiversaries on the horizon so that is in the back of my mind, too.

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  7. I like reading your blog because its about your own, individual life experience and written without pretence. It brings home to me, time and again, how similar we human beings are.

    I admire your commitment to write and post on your nominated days, and doing it consistently. Merry Xmas! ~ Libby (PS I like country music and that song/voice both great - thank you!)

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    1. You hit on what I like about reading other poeple's blogs and blog commenters like you---to see the inner workings of each other's minds does show how much a like we are world wide.

      Merry Christmas, Libby!

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  8. How you can start with "nothing" and end up with me in tears is a true gift, by writing friend! My mother is so on my mind today....as she is every Christmas season. I got out the old wooden bowl she used to hold a collection of nuts, along with her old nutcracker and picks and plan to introduce my grandchildren to the wonders of cracking shells and discovering the nut inside. It's such a simple, silly thing..but brings my mom so close to my heart. Thanks for this post. Thanks for you. (Also, I see in a comment you've never heard of David Seders -- get thee to Amazon; you must read his hilarious, insightful essays!)

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    1. Are you sure we didn't have the same mother? Mine also always had the wooden bowl full of nuts at Christmas time. I still have her nutcracker but I don't know where the bowl went. I can still see it because the outside of the bowl still had tree bark on it. I have many good memories that revolved around cracking nuts between the holidays. Thanks for bringing that back for me. My dad loved the nuts and my brother and I often got them in our stockings.

      Merry Christmas, Donna!

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  9. I understand about the coat. I have one I wear, too, but it is a down jacket from the early 1970s when down jackets were very puffy. We each had down jackets so colorful that my husband's brother called us the "Easter eggs." That still makes me smile remembering us warm in our down jackets in Chicago's February weather while he tried to look casually trendy with a light jacket and scarf. Anyway, I dragged my jacket all over when we traveled and even slept in it when we were somewhere freezing. Mine has been washed so many times that it has lost feathers, although it is still warm and I use it when I shovel snow. My husband's bright-baby-blue puffy jacket is still full of down and my default piece of clothing when I am cold and tired and don't want to turn the heat up for the whole house. I put it on and feel the soft warmth of the down and can feel my whole body relax. The jacket comes with a lifetime of memories too and must be part of why I find it so comforting. Thanks again for putting your thoughts on this blog. I enjoy hearing what people are really thinking about their lives. It seems like a lot of conversations, even enjoyable ones, end up being guarded or superficial. Superficial is okay, but it is nice to hear some real thoughts too. Hope you have had a nice Christmas. Ann

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    1. Ann, that's a wonder widow story and I'm guess most of us have one involving an article of clothing. The image of 'Easter Eggs coats' walking around in a Chicago winter makes even me smile. Thanks for sharing.

      I'm having a very boring Christmas and can't wait things to return to normal on TV, on the internet especially in the blog community and in the stores.

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  10. I like 'new age' country music, as I call it; short on the twang and long on the heart. Thanks for sharing this one. :)

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    1. Hadn't heard that term before but I can think of many songs that fit your description.

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