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, February 17, 2018

Another Valentine’s Day Under my Belt



After a long stretch of dreary winter days, Valentine’s Day was so bright and beautiful I had to put sunglasses on as I drove home from the grocery store and serendipity brought Travis Tritt on my radio singing “…it's a great day to be alive. I know the sun's still shining when I close my eyes.” I was feeling good. I even had one perfect red rose with baby breath in the back seat as well as a heart shaped box with three pieces of chocolate candy inside. Heck, if there’s no one else around to treat me, why not do it myself. I love me, right? No crime in that. 

While I was picking out the rose a young man was near-by and he was studying one miniature rose plant after another trying to decide which one to buy. The ex-florist in me wanted to ask him if I could help because I could see he was leaning toward plants that were nearly bloomed out and the ones with a few flowers still in bud would last longer. I laughed at myself when it crossed my mind that he might think I was trying to flirt with him if I offered my opinion. Me 70-something and him 30-something. Dream on, old lady! My second thought was that I should write a note for him to give to the recipient of his gift, telling her she’d better appreciate the thoughtfulness he put into picking it out. He was as serious as a Tibetan monk as he studied his choices. But I had my own perfection to find and that’s not easy in this day and age when supermarket cut flowers are so jacked up on preservatives that they often don’t open. I hate that. 

When I got home I went to my Facebook page. I rarely post anything there---a few animal videos just to let people on my friends list know I’m still alive. Mostly I go there to read my news feeds and look at family photos others post. But I had something I wanted to share so when Facebook asked me “What’s on your mind?” I wrote: “It was on a bright, sunny day just like today and I was selling Valentine's Day flowers in the middle of the mall when Don came strolling in after plowing snow all night. He ended up staying to help me and he was so good with the customers. If that isn't love, then I don't know what love is. Still miss you, Don!” That day at the mall is one of those days that comes floating back to the surface when I’m trying to decide exactly when and where I was when I first knew I was in love with Don. I have five-six memories like that fighting for first place on my love-smacked list.

Like all couples, I could also conjure up a short list of memories when I wanted to kick Don to the curb. But there’s something that happens to many women when we get knighted with our WIDOW titles that diminishes memories of fights and hurt feelings and changes them into regrets or comedy skits. Not long after Don died I was in the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store and a couple was arguing over what brand of toothpaste to buy. I had a hard time resisting the temptation to step in between them with my metaphorical referee’s whistle and telling the couple to buy both brands, for crying out loud! “Isn’t having a peaceful marriage worth four bucks and a little extra space in your medicine cabinet?” I’ll never understand why people argue over trivial stuff like that. We never did that. Ya, right. It’s too bad there wasn’t a newly minted widow around the day I picked a fight with Don because the night before I had dreamed he was cheating on me with a woman who looked like Jennifer Anderson. Back in the days when Friends was the hot TV show he developed a crush on her that lasted his entire life. How does a guy defend himself against a dream? See what I mean about how fight scenarios when viewed after death could easily be turned into comedy skits? The mind is an amazing place when it’s trying to justify our own illogical behavior. 

Valentine’s Day night I dreamed something with details that are fuzzy to me now but when I woke up in the morning I was happy and I knew Don had come to visit me in my sleep. Often times my sleeping life is richer and more fun than my daytime life. And if the need to pee didn’t wake me and force me out of bed, I wouldn’t mind living in that twilight zone between sleep and wakefulness. Too many mornings I throw my legs over the side of the bed and sit there for a few minutes dreading the long, lonely day ahead. I don’t know how to fix that feeling when it comes… ©

25 comments:

  1. Bravo!! For buying yourself a Valentine gift - I do too!! Well, not exactly, but I 'treat' myself when I think I deserve it. And no wasted gift, because I know EXACTLY what I want.

    I sometimes remember the not-so-good moments of my marriage, similar to the toothpaste incident you describe. I once asked another widow the question: why do women on widow blogs never mention those moments? She said it was surprising how many women private-messaged her of such incidents, with some feelings of guilt as if they were being disloyal. Plus, of course, the mind's reflexive action to protect oneself: remember the good times and forget/gloss over the bad times.

    Hope you spoilt yourself rotten on Valentines! And please remember there are your fans who love reading your biweekly posts, written with honesty and courage.
    ~ Libby

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    1. I call it the Pedestal Treatment, and I agree we do it to protect ourselves. The good times are really all that matters after someone is gone in my opinion and assuming the marriage was a normal one, not abusive in any way. Timing probably matters too as I think the pedestal gets shorter as time goes by.

      I really had a great Valentine's Day. The memories the sunshine brought that kept me in a happy mood all day and the treat I bought is still on my counter top helping to brighten my life.

      Thanks, Libby. My blog does give me purpose.

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  2. Your very last sentence hit home for me being an almost 5 year widow now. I stay busy and have a fairly full life with a few friends, but......it's still lonely and as I age, I often feel like I'm just killing time even though most of the time, it is ok...

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    1. I wish I could shake the feeling of "just killing time" but it sits in head, ready to show itself at the craziest times. I spent so much of my life in long-range planning mode but now that planning is all about negative things---downsizing, health care, estate planning, assistance living places. A widow in my Movie and Lunch Club is trying to spend all the money her husband left her on cruises because when he died he told her to go have fun. And she is, but she still has to work (at 72) and lives in a bad neighborhood and when she runs out of money she says God will provide. I couldn't make her choices bases on a deathbed promise. I guess we all have to do what we have to do as we age.

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  3. I love your biweekly posts.
    Jennifer Aniston and Jolie are my husband’s favorite. I guess that’s Brad Pitt taste too.

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    1. I used to have a crush on Brad Pitt but he hasn't age well. I haven't either but we don't talk about that. Thanks for sharing, DDD.You made me smile.

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  4. I think Treating Ourselves, for whatever reason, is important Self-Care. Whether it's flowers, sweets, or a nice restful interlude of some sort, we need to have Pampering after having taken care of Others for so long. Not always a Widow Thing, but a Woman Thing.

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    1. I agree. I have been buying myself cut flowers for a very long time, but only as a treat for when my house is clean. I get a lot of mileage out of them. I rearrange them in smaller and smaller vases as some die off ending with a tiny vase a about an inch high.

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  5. Yes to buying two toothpastes. Why do we argue over such things? I can remember having mini power struggles when we were young. It seems so silly now.
    This was the first Valentine's Day for my niece after she lost her husband in October. It was tough for her.
    I'm glad you treated yourself to flowers and candy.

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    1. That first Valentine's Day is SO tough for widows, probably widowers, too. For me Don's birthdays are worse because my own and our anniversary is in the same week.

      "Mini power struggle"---a perfect description.

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  6. Boy this hit home. Yes, two toothpastes. How silly to fight over such things.I laugh about the things that used to bother me when we first lived together that now I find endearing. Crazy right? I know being a widow can't be easy. I don't want to think about it. I fear I won't have your grace, in fact I know I won't. I will just be a puddle on the floor. I used to think, I am woman hear me roar. But my roar is far better with Rick, my cheerleader.
    As for those flowers, you made me laugh with the things you do as they die. I do the same exact thing. For some reason I just hate throwing away flowers.

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    1. You know, before Don died I never thought about it ever happening and me being alone. I was so focused on keeping him alive and moving forward after his stroke that all my energy went into the effort. I don't regret it for a minute. Don't worry about what could happen, take care of the here and now.

      I blame my flower habit on being in the floral industry for two decades. I was taught and believe that flowers are symbolic of life itself. Therefore we're trying to fight the natural order of things by holding on to the life of those floral bouquets for as long as possible. Besides, flowers just too damn pretty to say goodbye before we have to. I have even been known to harvest the seeds from cut flowers that will grow around here and in the spring I throw them out in the back field in hopes some will grow. They often do! I get my money's worth.

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  7. Jean :

    I used to think Don was perfect romantic person without any flaws, unlike my husband who is really great in some area but sucks in romance department, he will never do anything romantic, though he is always by my side when I needed him for anything. Finally after my stroke I understood his love language is different than mine, he shows his love through his actions unlike me who shows through words of appreciation. Anyway that was my light bulb moment & now I am able to appreciate & love him more

    Asha

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    1. Don had his romantic moments but not in the romance book kind of way. He'd buy cards and lots of Snoopy things that expressed his feelings but didn't often say them out loud. But like you've come to appreciate in your own husband Don's actions showed me everything I needed to know about how he felt---once you learn translate 'guy.' Taking care of and working hard to support your family translates to "I love you" in a guy's mind... in my limited experience.

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  8. Holidays and anniversaries have to be brutal but it helps that you do have that store of sweet memories and smiles to bring back. That is the purpose of hanging on to them and forgetting the irritating ones. How sweet that Don visited you in your sleep.

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    1. It's not just the memories of a spouse that a person tends to remember the best ones and lets the bad memories fade away. I'm thinking about those of a parent as well. I dream and remember my dreams often. Most are good but for the past 20 years I've limited viewing TV and movies and reading about pure evil for fear it will show up in my dream life. It happened to my dad in his last years.

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  9. Jean I am glad that you treated yourself to a rose and chocolates on Valentine's day, you deserve them and so much more. I can't begin to understand the pain you feel over Don's passing but I am happy that you are coping with it with the help of a lot of friends who understand and can help because they are going through the same thing. Remembering the good times with Don is a blessing and letting the more troubled times fade is also a blessing. Don's visit on Valentine's night is a true testament to the Love you two shared...

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    1. Thanks, Jimmy. A lot of us are on the same journey and we all lean on each other from time to tome.

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  10. I know what you mean about dream life being richer, more exciting than reality. I often have wonderful dreams. I'm glad that you bought some valentine gifts for yourself. It's the right thing to do. Nancy

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    1. I used to keep dream journeys and sometimes I wish I still did. I do keep a pad of paper on the night stand when I know I've had a dream I want to blog about. I'm glad to meet someone else who enjoys their dreams.

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  11. I'm so glad you brought home that rose and the candy. Me? Valentine's Day means chocolate-dipped strawberries. We have a grocery store that sets up a dipping station where you can watch about a dozen people turning them out: milk, dark, and white chocolate. They use wonderful, big berries, and good chocolate, too. There's no paraffin in it.

    There's never a Valentine Day that passes without me thinking about my first real boyfriend: Tim Kling, 4th grade. He brought me one of those fancy, 1950s hearts filled with candy. It was pink, with a pink rose on top, and ruffles all around. The next summer, he drowned on a vacation trip, and it was just awful. That candy box has disappeared now, and I certainly don't grieve now as I did then, but it's a good reminder to me that all kinds of losses can stir up things on a holiday.

    More flowers, that's what I say!

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  12. I would SO buy those chocolate dipped strawberries for myself!

    That's a poignant story about your first memorable Valentine's day gift. I remember those boxes well. My first Valentine's Day box of candy came from my dad.

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  13. I bought myself red tulips and a hot fudge sundae.
    I love your memory of Don; and the advice you'd give about not fighting over trivial things. My husband's sister and her husband were constantly fighting over the stupidest, most trivial stuff. They are both dead now and if there's a heaven I envision them up there bickering into eternity.
    I still have my husband, thankfully, but sometimes when he's away, I feel the silence of loneliness beneath the everyday life I carry on.
    Sending friend hugs your way.

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    1. I'd kill for a hot fudge sundae right now or even just ice cream, my favorite comfort food.

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