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, March 7, 2018

Book Talk, Texting Dogs and Five times Married



Thursday when I got home from being away from the house all afternoon I felt like taking a nap, but I toughed it out hoping I could get through until bedtime without falling asleep during The Big Bang or Young Sheldon, the highlights of my weekly TV viewing. Plus my cleaning girl was due the next morning and I had to get ready for her. I don’t “clean” before she comes as much as I “hide” things that I call too tempting to pass up should she develop a case of sticky fingers---my purse, cell phone, Kindle Fire, prescription drugs, house keys, jewelry, and mail with sensitive information inside. I trust her but sometimes the service has last minute substitutes. Better to be safe than sorry.

That afternoon I had gone to a lecture and while I was sitting there I got a text message from Levi, my dog, saying it was time to give him his monthly meds. Levi is smart but his toes are too big to text and it took me a few minutes to remember I’d programmed that in my Kindle Fire’s calendar app and it must have gotten populated across all my devices and somehow that ended up in an auto text. The lecturer was a woman from the library with the title of ‘Adult Paraprofessional.’ I have no idea what that is but she’s an energetic and dramatic storyteller and she talked about fifteen books and their authors, with the common thread of all being books that have won prestigious awards. I hadn’t read a single one of them

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry was on the list which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone but the book that holds the all-time record for winning the most awards is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susan Clarke---seven awards in all. It’s set in the 19th century and is about dueling magicians. It sounds as boring as dish water to me, but the librarian claims it’s a fun read. Another book, one with a strange concept won the 2017 Booker Prize and it's titled, Lincoln in Bardo by George Saunders. It has 166 characters, all ghosts, and the entire book takes place in one night in a cemetery---the night President Lincoln spent the night sitting by his eleven year son’s casket. He really did do that but the rest, of course, is fiction. The book has been compared to the Our Town and the librarian claims it’s a hoot to listen to in the audio version. I will pass. But I will put News of the World by Paulette Jiles on my want list. It's about a crusty old guy after the Civil War who makes his living going from town to town reading the news from back East and who agrees to deliver a mute little girl across several states to Texas. The librarian called it "sweet, fun and heart-warming."

Other books she talked about were: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Full of allegories and mythology but it also works as a straight on thriller; The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, an oral history of the dust storms in the Great Plains during the depression. We were all shocked to hear the soil from those storms made it all the way to New York City and onto ships 350 miles out at sea; Little Fires Everywhere by Celese Ng won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award, the only award that is nominated and voted on by readers; Evicted by Matthew Desmond about poverty in America; Behind the Beautiful Forever by Katherine Boo about poverty in India; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mandel about King Henry VIII; Crossing Purgatory by Gary Schanbacher, about the American frontier in 1858; and the next four are mysteries: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny; Before the Fall by Noah Hawley; A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee; Ordinary Grace by Willian Kent Krueger.

After the lecture I met a friend for lunch where we talked about topics neither one of us can discuss with most people in our families. She asked if I remember our country ever being this divided that we risk alienating family and friends just by talking about the issues in the news and all I could come up with was during the Vietnam War when younger war protester were pitted against the older generation. But that was only one issue separating people. Now there are a half dozen or more.

We also talked about an acquaintance of mine who just got engaged. She and I were widowed within weeks of each other and this will be her fifth husband--- she divorced her first and buried the others. It boggles my mind, that anyone could get married so many times. Why do people do that? Are they hopelessly optimistic or are they trying to get it right and haven’t made it yet? She’s not marrying for money, she’s well off nor have I ever gotten the impression that’s she lonely or unhappy with her busy life. What is wrong with me that I can’t accept this woman’s happiness on face value? That’s a rhetorical question, idol curiosity because even though I believe you can love more than one person in your lifetime I can’t imagine me falling deeply enough in love to marry five different guys! But none of us likes being judged, we want others to see and believe we are capable of making good choices for ourselves. Even if we are running our choices past good friends, we don’t want them to add their disapproval or drama if, in the end, they disagree with our final decisions. So I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be walking up to this woman and say, “That’s a beautiful engagement ring but are you crazy!?” ©

29 comments:

  1. A very interesting post!

    Levin's message would have startled me! Sometimes, I don't like how systems talk to each other about me.

    The only book I'd read was 'Lonesome Dove' - read quite a few by that author. Cruel times.

    I don't understand marrying get five times too. I couldn't do it.

    I'm glad you mentioned about the divide in the country. I didn't follow US politics before so don't have anything to compare the current situation. I read of baffling polls eg 'Amongst African -Americans, 9/10 think #45 is racist'. I think: I'd like to meet that 1/10 African-Americans who disagree - bizarre!

    It's like a group of people - you copy each other unconsciously. Other countries look at what's happening in USA and some of 'that' rubs off - the in-your-face nepotism, open corruption, discrimination, etc. Frankly, all extremism is alike and I agree with a statement I read that the US in its current attitude to women rights, LGBTQ, etc is not that different to ISIS. Atm, following US politics has more twists/turns than any thriller I've read - but no way can I check out the ending. ~ Libby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess there are advantages in having our devices share every thing, but I really like having all my business on the phone I take away from the house. Young people like it that way. Industry people think desk top computers are on the way out. Wouldn't work for me not to have one...too much eye strain with little devices!

      Extremists are scary, no matter what the topic or country of origin. Democracy to survive has to have compromise and too many people have forgotten that, especially those holding government positions. But I truly believe things are coming to a turning point. I hope so! The drama #45 causes wears you out.

      Delete
    2. P.S. The lecturer had met Larry McMurtry on several occasions and said he's a surly person who complains that whenever he does book signings for new books people always bring him copies of Lonesome Dove to sign and no one asks about his new books. He's tired of talking about that book!

      Delete
  2. I think the always marrying type it fills a psychological need to simply be married.probably makes them feel "normal" , complete. For me once was enough. I had a good (mostly) marriage and enjoy my freedom now to repeat it and maybe have to become a caregiver. Perhaps I'm selfish, but it is what it is...

    I don't read books anymore, as I've lost my ability to focus on anything long...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree on all counts about marriage. About books, I couldn't read for probably three years into widowhood, still don't read as much as before.

      Delete
  3. While I find my marriage to be largely comforting and agreeable (among other positive things), I also find it to be a great deal of work. I cannot imagine ever wanting to do it again. But I am an independent and strong woman. I'm okay with myself as company, and am not often afraid. Then again, I have not had to face Widowhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's how I see it too, Nance. Marriage is work, even the best of them, and I would not be willing to do it again, especially at my age where I could end up being another caregiver. I'm too set in my ways to want to blend and bend into someone else's ways.

      Delete
  4. Book reviews, no matter how unbiased, still seem to be the opinion of the reviewer. I am learning how not to be impressed, without reading a few other reviews. I have been led down the garden path before. Same goes for movie reviews ...
    Some people have a 'need' to be married. I don't know if actual love has anything to do with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may have hit the nail on the head with your statement about needing to be married and it not actually be about love. Good way for me to understand her.

      I read a lot of reviews before I buy a book and I'll read the sample if one is available and I still can end up with books I don't like. The lecturer I saw this week I've seen lecture three and I've tried a few of her recommendations. She definitely has different tastes in books than I do. But I love hearing about plots and authors and she is funny when she talks about them.

      Delete
  5. I STILL don't read! It will be five years in May. I used to read a book a week. Could not go to sleep without reading. I hope I can get that back.

    I'm with you on marriage! I loved my hubby and my marriage but it is always a compromise, small or big. But I have the good fortune to live with four other people so I never get lonely and always have someone to talk with. I just don't want to be a caregiver for someone I haven't loved for ten years or more. Nope. Too selfish. Ladies here at the complex keep trying to fix me up with the bachelors here. Friends and fun, not no benefits and no living together!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll bet you're reading a book a week now, Grandma duty stye, just not adult books.

      After my mom died my dad dated the same woman for around 10 years, they talked about marriage but she (mostly) wanted to keep it friends and fun. They traveled together, saw each other 2-3 a week, talked on the phone but didn't live together. They both seemed happy and a lot of their decision was based on not mixing incomes and finances to keep their estates in tact for their kids. Seemed like an ideal situation to me. They only lived 3-4 miles apart.

      Delete
    2. That DOES sound perfect! I have a friend here who has the same kind of arrangement ... going on 8 years!

      Delete
  6. Jean maybe Levi has been watching you hide things from the cleaning girl and is keeping his cell phone hidden until it's time to text you, these animals now days are pretty smart...

    That list of books does sound interesting, I'm looking at News of the World myself, I had placed it on my to read list in the past, thank you for reminding me about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe Levi and Dixie are texting back and forth.☺

      That does sound like good book.

      Delete
    2. You just may be on to something there.

      Delete
  7. My stepmother, who I loved dearly, said she felt like 'half a person' when she wasn't married. Got married 4 times and buried them all. Gave my Dad the 16 best years of his life.

    I've been married twice and didn't care for it either time. Is the 'work' people talk about putting up with ridiculous behavior? Didn't like that.
    I'm so much happier single and would never marry again.

    George Saunders is highly inventive and witty as can be. The subject of 'Lincoln in the Bardo' doesn't sound like it lends itself to humor, but I bet he snuck some in there. I've used a line of his on several occasions that involved working with the public: 'Excuse me while I slip into the closet and practice my hatred-abatement breathing'. I love the guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know the half of a whole feeling but it's not a driving need.

      By 'work' I think most people mean the compromises and sharing and constantly growing together. not "putting up". LOL

      The librarian gave the Saunder's book really high praises. I just don't like ghosts or books with that many characters. Let me know if you ever read it.

      Delete
  8. "If at first, you don't succeed........" or some such drivel. Even when Fred and I were together, I really did not want to get married. It gets more complicated, financially, the older you get. I so enjoy my aloneness--no one to cook for, clean up after, or take care of. Yes-I am selfish enough to finally have my life just as I like it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I couldn't go back to cooking and cleaning and caregiving again. Wish I had more people to talk to but you can't have everything.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Both Before the Fall and Ordinary Grace were mainly hits with our book group. I especially like Before the Fall. Some people NEED to be in a relationship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a sucker for any book with the word 'grace' in the title. LOL

      I think you're right about some people NEEDING to be in a relationship. And there is a difference between needing and wanting.

      Delete
  11. I've become such a lazy reader...my eyes give out and I give up. Kindle adjustment for size of text helps, but my eye still quit when they've had enough. I read Lonesome Dove years ago and loved it. Never read any of the others -- actually never heard of most of them. I used to be such an avid reader...oh well.

    I know a woman who is bright, funny, engaged in life, has lots of friends -- vivacious. And seems to absolutely NEED to have a man in her life, not all of them of the highest caliber; she's found herself in some dreadful situations. I do not get it either. I think it's some deep-seated void that some try to fill. I'd rather get a text from my dog. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read a lot more magazine and news articles than books these days, but I still enjoy hearing about books. How authors find topics to build a book on still fascinates me. Like the book with all the ghost characters was inspired but the fact that Lincoln spent the overnight in a cemetery.

      The woman in my blog is also engaged in life with lots of friends, doesn't seem needy but I'm guessing there must be a need that isn't apparent. I will never get it but I'm glad I don't have that itch. lOL

      Delete
  12. I'm a big reader, but most of these are new to me. I've read The Underground Railroad (compelling, but also disturbing), and I'm a big fan of the Louise Penny mysteries. Some of the others will have to go on my list. Unfortunately, I seem to add books to my to-read list much more quickly than I can read. So many good books; so little time. -Jean P.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Underground Railroad is coming up as a discussion read down at the senior hall in May, lead by the librarian who gave the lecture. It will be followed by a movie about the topic and bus trip to some stops on the underground railroad. I can't decide if I want to buy the book. Books that come with a study guide intimidate me. LOL

      Delete
  13. I had this marrying-again discussion again recently with friends. A high school friend is considering marrying someone who is in the beginning stages of a progressive disease...after many years of caregiving for her first husband. Two of us, who have been long-time caregivers, cannot imagine doing it again...especially with a new husband. The friend in question is a nurse, but still...I just could not do it again. I also now like living alone, planning my own day, meals, etc. I really miss a close friendship though...one you can really discuss anything with, but maybe that time is past. This political climate is terrible for friendships. I am trying to look past what I don't agree with and find what I really like about each friend. Works okay, but not perfect. Glad you have a friend open to discussing topics that are off-limits with others. That is very nice. Ann

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if your friend who is thinking of marrying someone with a progressive disease misses being needed. After being a caregiver for so many years I had that hole in my life to deal with, BUT I recognized it for what it was. No way could I do it again. A close friend to talk with is something I've been actively seeking with some success. Time will tell if it continues to grow.

      As for the political climate being hard on friends I have two relatives that I'm trying to overlook their positions but it's hard to do when they post vile stuff day after day on Facebook against people who hold my views, it's hard to not to reply back and defend my liberalism. But I don't do it in the name of family piece. I doubt I'll ever feel the same warmth I used to toward them though.

      Delete
  14. LOL about Levi's text. I'm sure he's smart enough to do that if he had thumbs.

    I've only read Lonesome Dove on that list, but I saw Little "Fires Everywhere" on audible.com. I might get that.

    I can't imagine getting married five times, and it's hard to imagine getting married again if something happened to H. Not that there's a thing wrong with it. I've known people whose marriages worked out well. I do imagine wanting a friend to go to the movies or dinner with. Friendship is a mighty fine thing, but I don't want them living with me. If I want to stay in my robe until noon, I don't want anyone judging me. :) My sister has been married - wait, let me count - four times. Some divorces and some deaths. It always amazes me how fast she gets another man. I bet I'd go decades without a man even being interested in me. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just got caught in my bathrobe at 11:00 by a neighbor who'd never been here before. She ended up staying an hour and a half and we had a wonderful conversation even though it was embarrassing.

      The speed in which people find new husbands is something I don't understand either. Guess they know where to look. LOL

      Delete