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 28, 2018

Guy Jobs, Widows and Young Neighbors



I’ve had nothing on my day planner for six straight days and guess what, the end of this week I have three things scheduled back-to-back. In a perfect world my social life would alternate with days spent at home doing things like catching up with laundry, cleaning forgotten cubbyholes and other boring necessities of living on my own. 

One of the necessities I had to do this week was remove the license plate off the car and put a new one on. Here in Michigan they only let you go ten years just using the renewal tabs on old plates before you’re required to buy a whole new plate. And when that happened this year it occurred to me that in my entire life I’ve never had to swap a license plate. Either my dad or Don took on that once-labeled guy job and even with my last few vehicles, when Don was still alive but could no longer do anything that required two hands, we bought new vehicles often enough that the dealership changed the plates. How hard could it be? I am woman. I can do anything! 

Except I couldn’t get the screws off. Oil helps I remembered from the good old days but I couldn’t find any Lock-Ease or machine oil in the garage so I found an eye dropper and put some baby oil on the screws. After letting them soak awhile I tried turning them again. I was using a flat head screw driver because I couldn’t find a Phillips head large enough to do the job. I thought about asking a neighbor to turn the screws out because it was a struggle for my old hands with their thumbs that get stuck in positions they don’t belong. I am woman, captain of my own ship. I can do anything. Ya, Sure. 

Finally, I got them off but I ended up cracking the license plate holder that I didn’t like anyway. So I put the whole kitten caboodle back on and drove to the auto supply store to get another, one that won’t have me struggling to put the license tabs on in their proper place like I’ve been doing in past years with the old plate holder. I also bought new screws and at home I finished the job. The whole process took me two and a half hours including lunch at Taco Bell. I am woman. I can do anything! Right…but I wish I had thought to play the Aging-Old Woman Card when I was at the auto supply store and sweet-talked one of the guys there into swapping my plates. 

But the job wasn’t completely finished because now I had to get rid of the old plate in a manner that someone couldn’t find it in the trash and put it on another vehicle. With my luck the plate thief would kidnap a kid and a witness would report my license number resulting with the swat team storming my front door. My husband had nine vehicles and this was a common worry in April. He’d cut those plates up into a half dozen pieces. I doubt I still have the giant cutters he used and even if I did, I doubt I’d have the hand strength to use them. I thought about asking a neighbor guy if he could cut the plate but I’m sure my neighbors aren’t as paranoia as I am about what could happen if I just threw the plate in the trash. To save my reputation as a mildly sane person I spray painted the front of the plate, folded it in half and wrapped it in Duct tape. I am woman. I can do anything. Yeah!

Speaking of neighbors, a young couple moved in about two years ago. She's a physical therapist---very sweet and friendly. A few weeks ago we talked over our property line about the salsa garden she’s going to put in this summer. Last year was her first attempt at gardening and she said her whole family came over in the fall to help her can her garden’s bounty. I told she that brought back good memories of me and my mom making chili sauce. Long story short I must have said something that made her think I’m the classic, lonely widow on the block. On her next day off she appeared at my front door. I invited her in, gave her the grand tour and during our conversation she said she came over to give me her phone number in case I ever need help with anything, “Yard work. Walk your dog. Anything. I just want to start doing some charity work.” Did you catch that ‘charity work’?

The next week on her day off she called and said, “I wanted to check in on you and see if you'd like to go for a walk with me.” If you remember the first time someone called you Mam in a store instead of Miss you’ll know how I felt. Shocked. Amused. Sad. A half dozen emotions came with that phone call before I settled on thinking it might be nice to have a young woman on a mission living near-by who could be enlisted to help with jobs involving screws that don’t want to come off. I am woman but I’m not invincible. ©

36 comments:

  1. I didn't even go there, where you went to old woman land. I saw it as someone to let you know she's around if you need it. I do that for the new neighbors and they are far younger than me. I work from home too so I offer to help with dog or letting in the cable guy. So maybe she was just being midwestern nice. Let's go with that :-)

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    1. You are so kind. I'd want you for a neighbor. She grew up in the country with no neighbors and really didn't know what city living would be like. She's really easy to talk with, went to a Bible College and ya, she could just being mid-western nice...which doesn't stamp out the possibility that she also could sees me as an old woman. After all, I am!

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  2. License plates: another odd job that Rick does and I don't think a thing about. Just like he assumes the bathrooms clean themselves and toilet paper magically appears. ;-)

    As clunky as your neighbor's kindness might have been, it is still Kindness. Once she gets to know you, she'll figure out how much of a Wonder Woman you truly are, and her Charity Work will turn into Admiring Friendship, I'll bet.

    OR...you could pretend to be feeble and needy, and milk this gig for all it's worth.

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    1. My blogger friend, Jimmy's Opinion, wrote a blog titled, "Because it's my Job" that I really liked. It talked about the division of "labor" at his house. We all have them and I love that the division no longer falls along the line of women's work or guy-jobs but rather who has the time, skill and/or desire to take on certain kinds of chores.

      I am looking forward to getting to know my neighbor better. She and her husband are both very open and friendly. As long as I can 'teach her' not to come over in the mornings when I enjoy not getting dressed. The day she was here, I was in my bathrobe and I overcame my first instinct not to invite her in because of it. I was glad I did.

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  3. I'm surprised she used the word "charity." I know she may view it that way, but she could have passed on saying it out loud. Still, it's nice that you have a concerned young woman next door. You could do worse, and your chances of dying on a Monday and going unnoticed until the following Monday are cut in half. LOL

    When you wrote about the dilemma of how to dispose of your plates, I was thinking that I'd spray paint them. Great minds think alike, but I wasn't smart enough to think of duct taping them.

    You are woman, and damned near invincible. That's the way I see you anyway.

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    1. Her face got bright red while saying that. She realized quickly that she didn't phrase that right. And I went on like I didn't see/hear it. And believe me, the idea that I could be dead a month or two with no one finding me is something I worry about, so I do like the thought of having a friendly neighbor.

      I like that, "I am woman and damned near invincible." Leaving room to accept help is age appropriate. LOL

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    2. I know what you mean. I think a lot of people our age who live alone give more than a passing thought to who will find us if we die at home.

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  4. I've had to enlist the help of my male tenants and friends when I needed stronger hands (and bodies) to do something. I've also played the widow card, when necessary during negotiations...not so much now anymore, but definitely in the early days of my widowhood - while navigating my way through the morass of financial and actual crap left behind by my late spouse. "Whatever it takes to get the job done" was my motto then and now. Nothing wrong with relying on the kindness of strangers and others. I am sure you give as good as you get, Jean.

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    1. When my husband first had his stroke I would have gone down with him if I hadn't had some great people step up to help. Widow Card, Caregiver Card, Old Woman Card, Stressed Mother Care---using them is survival 101. By the time he died 12 1/2 years later, I'd learn how to be pretty much self-reliant. And you're right most of us pitch in where we can to help others so it all works out...it takes a village, doesn't it.

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  5. I want to believe I can do almost anything if I am willing to spend the time and energy to complete the task. Sometimes, it is just not worth it and I ask for help. I also don’t want to admit that I am getting”older” and may not be able to complete some tasks. That’s another problem. Either way, a neighbor who is kind and looking out for you is only good.

    I love your problem solving skills and if you are not invincible, you are d*mn close.

    Ruth

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    1. "Sometimes it's just not worth it" is the way I was feeling at one point when I thought about how quickly my husband found do that job. ☺

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  6. Hum, I never thought about reasons for disposing of the old plate. Now you have me thinking. I was thinking for sure you would play the age card at the auto supply. I ALWAYS do and enjoy every minute of it. Recently did it with a lawnmower battery that was a bit heavy for me. I feel I am making their day and they are saving my skin and muscles.
    Oh, do enjoy that sweet young neighbor and allow her to help out now and then. I'd love to have one just like her on speed dial.

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    1. I honestly do believe when young guys help old woman it often makes them feel good, like we remind them of their grandmothers. True or not it makes one feel less guilty.

      My neighbor paints in watercolor and said she was looking for a class. I've already helped her by finding information on an Olli class that meets on her day off. So it might be a two way street in time. She says she's no where near the artist I am but I haven't seen her work yet to know if that's true or false modesty.

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  7. Jean, I know today that ANY woman can do everything they want to do. There are things that I can't do even though I wish I could do but my wife can do it. My daughter if I need to put together new phones and put every person and their numbers in my phone, AmyLynn can do it she's suppose have problems. I think it's me that has the problems. I really believe that if we had a Prime Minister & President our countries would better with women in control. You go girl. See ya my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. One day we will have a woman Prime Minister and President. I do think women bring a different viewpoint into governing...less ego, more attempting to come to a consensus. I the meantime, I absolutely adore your Justine Trudeau.

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    2. I think that there are many women just think he's so cute. I don't think he's so good looking. I think I'm better looking. Ha,ha,ha. Now you can laugh at that Jean. I won't be upset. See ya.

      Cruisin Paul

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    3. LO We all have our illusions, Paul. It's not just that he's cute...he's also so well mannered and upbeat and seems like a loving family man.

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  8. I really enjoyed (and smiled) reading this entry. I can relate to all of your feelings. Liked the responses too.

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    1. Thanks! It was a fun one to write.

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  9. Without a second thought, I would have driven someplace where I thought a man could help me remove the plates! I have never had to do it. We have never kept a car for longer than 10 years (close but not as long) and the dealer always does everything! Yes please I would appreciate if you do it...and that too!
    I do think the law must be different in NY. We have had our plates a long time..several cars have had the same plates and even though they have been gradually changing the color, some of us are still driving with the old color. We also never have to change to picture on our license if we don’t want to. At this point, I have had the same picture on mine for a very long time,,,my hair was not grey!!
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. You don't have to own a car 10 years to have a ten year old license plate. They are transferable to your new car, if you want. My Trax is three years old. Most people don't want an old, less than perfect plate on a brand new car so they buy new even though they don't need to. We've always gotten the plain-Jane plates because they are cheaper than buying the ones with pictures. I'm not even sure how many different plates we have available but it's a LOT---fundraiser plates, Military, historical, collector, organizations, personalized and the standard available.

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  10. Ten years? Seems like I've had mine FOREVER! I'm probably due for a new one in August then. The tabs are so easy -- the screws are not. I applaud you! I love Auto Zone. They always offer to help put it on for me and they've helped with wipers and when I've lost gas and oil caps. (Don't ask.)

    I think your new neighbor sounds great. The charity expression is a little weird but we all have our quirks! If she's new to your city, it will be nice for her to have a resource (we all need a dentist and know the best places to shop for this and that). And it's nice to know someone close at hand is watching out for you.

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    1. Ten years IS a long time. I ignored the notice last year that I was required to get a new license. This year they built the price of a new one into my expiration notice and told me I have no choice.

      Funny you should mention finding a dentist. I've lived in this neighborhood since 2002 and I'm the one who will be looking for a new one. My neighbor has being working in town for four years. She can probably give me more resources than the other way around, given her profession. LOL

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  11. I no longer mess with anything to do with cars, but if I did, I'd probably play the old lady card. Some people get a good feeling from helping out the grandmother type.

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    1. I think you're right. My husband sure did.

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  12. WD-40. Spray on the screws or any metal that needs to be loosened.
    I think your neighbor sounds real nice. I would keep her friendship going. Yes, I hate the idea that some thinks I can't do all I used too, but it is true. I can't do all that I used too.

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    1. I know about WD-40. I just didn't have any in the house, but I should probably put it on my grocery list.

      I will try to keep something going with my neighbors. They both work a lot of hours, though---get home late---I suspect they meet for dinner before coming home and she says they are in bed by nine. I'm switching my dog walking time to 7:00 which will help.

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  13. Just choice of wrong word methinks. Had she said 'I feel like being more charitable' or 'I'm feeling like upping my altruism' your eyebrows wouldn't have hit your hairline. That's probably what made her blush.

    You're an interesting person, so she's undoubtedly attracted for that reason, and it IS nice to know there's an extra pair of hands if needed.
    My closest neighbor is the Chief of Police in my little town and I know he would help in a pinch, but I'd hate to ask him. He has a teenage son, who might be help in a pinch too. Fortunately I've not had the need, and when I did, they didn't have the know how, for which I can't fault them. At any rate, a friendly, helpful neighbor is a treasure whether she becomes a chum or not.

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    1. I know she didn't mean anything by it. It just surprised and amused me more than anything.

      Living near the Chief of Police would have some advantages. All of the neighbors on my cul-de-sac are nice and in a true emergency there are 3-4 I could ask for help. Fortunately, so far I've never needed to ask. But I'm a decade older than when I moved in so who knows how long my luck will hold out.

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  14. Charity?!?! That's funny! Sort of an old-fashioned word. And yes, it was well-meaning, I suppose. I've often thought I'd love to have someone younger around the 'hood who really cared enough to check in and notice what's going on here. There is a young family on the corner who keeps an eye on the house when we are away and they are great, so that's a start.

    The license plate thing cracked me up. I always tell myself I can do anything, then find out, nope, I can't and I call for help from whoever can rescue me from my dilemma. Ha

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    1. Was got me the most about the license plate saga is how little time it took my husband to do that job compared to me! I doubt it took him five minutes! Of course he had a well stock garage and lots of male muscle.

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  15. That "charitable" neighbor would have been nice to have the winter your arm was in a cast and you couldn't find anyone to help shovel snow. The "charity work" line would have gotten my back up for sure, but maybe you could make it your "charity work" to befriend this young woman and help educate her out of her ageism. -JeanP

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    1. I know! That winter I would have been very grateful to have her offer. I am even now...but it did give me one of those iconic, ageism moments.

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  16. Heck. Down here, we just hang up the old license plates in the garage, or a bar. I can't even remember what I did with my last set. I had to dispose of them somehow, but I don't have a clue what I did. I probably just threw them in the trash. You can take old ones down to the County offices and give them to the same people who hand out the new ones. If you're really efficient, you can take the old ones off just before you pick up the new, but that's more efficient than I'm ever going to be.

    As for your neighbor -- don't forget that the word "charity" is rooted in caritas -- love of humanity. It means more than the haves handing out goodies to the have-nots. It's a way of describing an open and loving disposition toward others. Sounds like your neighbor has that in abundance -- lucky you!

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    1. I forgot that you can your old plates down to the sec. of state's office. In ten years when I have the problem again I wouldn't remember that. LOL

      I didn't know that about the world 'charity.' I like that. Thanks for sharing!

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