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, May 18, 2019

Hissy-Fit Rant and my Three Day Time Out

It was Saturday morning and I found myself at the Breakfast only Café. I hadn’t been there in a month but I go there often enough that the waitress knows what I want: no straw with my water, cream with my coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon, English muffin with one tub of orange marmalade. She probably remembers me because I tip three bucks on the $9.95 bill. Why 30%? Because older women are notoriously stereotyped as being bad tippers and if there is anything I don’t want in life, it’s to be stereotyped based on gender. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I took the gunslingers’ table in the far corner of the room, my back to the wall, where I could see everyone because I’m a voyeur at heart. The annual 15K and 25K races took place in town earlier that morning and the restaurant was busy with people stopping on their way home from running, watching or cheering from the sidelines. I don’t get how and why people from all over the world come to run marathons. Where do they find the time and money for that? A woman at a near-by table was wearing a tee-shirt that read: “I make this shirt look good.” Really? She was coat hanger thin, probably ran to the restaurant from two counties over. I don’t wear message tee-shirts but if I did, I’d want one that said,” Bored women, please talk to me!” 

In this age of mass shootings I don’t understand why there aren’t fist fights over the gunslingers’ table. The people sitting just inside the door would be the first to die if a shooter came in and isn’t it a sad statement on our society that anyone has passing thoughts like this or that on the first day of school teachers have to talk about what to do if an active shooter comes in. How many more mass shootings has to take place before we all stand up and demand that our lawmakers get their noses out of the RNA’s underpants and do something meaningful? Kids shouldn’t have to decide between fight and flight. Heck, no one should! For starters, close the gun show background check loophole. It could be done in a day because back in February the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 but Mitch McConnell won’t let the Senate vote on it. It’s just sitting there, stonewalled like McConnell did with the Merrick Garland up or down vote on Obama’s pick for a Supreme Court Justice and we all know how that ended. Mitch needs to go so we can get someone in there who will let Congress work the way our Founding Fathers intended it to work!  Rant off, well maybe not off but it's put on the back burner.

Monday through Wednesday the body shop had my car tied up to repair the hit-and-run damage to my back bumper and adjacent parts. When I went in for the estimate the guy told me they would arrange for a rental car to meet me at the body shop but when I got there to drop off my car the young Chicky-Poo at the front desk said they hadn’t done it and claimed they never do that. She was about a minute and half older than the socks I was wearing so I stereotyped her as either being incompetent or she just got the job and ‘never’ in her book only goes back a few days. She ended up driving me to the car rental place and she turned out to be a nice kid with a baby still in diapers. But in the future I’ll be keeping notes of all my conversations with service people with names and dates because who would invent a detail like them arranging for a rental car to meet me if the guy hadn’t said it? If your answer is an elderly person on the edge of dementia, don’t say it out loud.

I left the car rental place, drove home, and parked the rental in the garage which fascinated the dog when he found a shiny brilliant blue Ford in the space where my generic gray Trax usually sits. Every time he had to go outside to pee he walked around the Ford, making sure it was still there. On the third day I drove back to the rental place, putting a grand total of 15 miles on the car in three days at the cost of $75 for the optional insurance which in hindsight was stupidest decision I've made in years. When the rental rep was explaining the option he was talking at Ferrari sports car speed and I was processing the information at horse and buggy speed. It only covered the $1,000 deductible left over from what my insurance company would have covered, should I have gotten in an accident with the rental. Yes, the one that sat in my garage for three days. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! The actual rental fee was another $81 paid for by the insurance company. Damn hit and run driver that started this whole chain of events! The body work cost $991.66 and thankfully, the insurance company covered it all but they will probably find a way to up my premiums. Isn’t that how it works?

The month of May has been and will continue to be the Money Pit Month. If I was a drinking woman, I’d drown my sorrows about now. But I’m not so I think I’ll go to Starbucks instead. I’ve been wanting a S’Mores Frappuccino, which is back for the summer by popular demand. Hooray for small blessings!  ©

The quote is attributed to Gloria but I guess she didn't say it. The author is still unknown.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Who’s the Scary Cat Now!

The month of May might be known for bringing flowers but at my house it also brings the dog’s yearly vet appointment to get caught up on his shots/vaccines and to get the ‘diet talk’ about him needing to loss a pound or two. Doctors are all the same, aren’t they. In Levi’s case the vet talk usually goes something like this: “One pound will lead to two pounds and pretty soon it will start effecting his all over health.” Ya, doc, I know it. But have you ever lived with a stubborn schnauzer who wants his treat when he wants it? Walking him more sounds easy, doesn’t it, except Levi won’t go out in the rain and I won’t go out in snowy or icy weather. I used let him run in the back yard on a long clothesline but my back lot line neighbor acquired three pit bulls two years ago and only one is chained up---presumably the one that has already killed a cat and attacked another neighbor’s dog. But Levi didn’t get the ‘diet talk’ this year because he actually lost his two pounds and now I’m mad at the little bugger for not sharing his weight loss secret with me.

This routine appointment drained $452.43 out of my check book for all his shots/vaccines including two required for licensing, a canine flu shot, CBC blood work, fecal check, ear infection treatment, three months’ worth of flea, tick and heart worm meds and apoquel pills for itchiness when he needs it for a plugged saliva gland. On the good side, this was the first time in three years his teeth didn’t need cleaning but they aren’t going to let that money get away. They want to re-check his teeth in October and I will let them because he can’t afford to lose any more teeth to gum disease. And I'm taking bets on whether or not his CBC blood work will turn something up they'll want to treat. He's a senior citizen now and those years turns us all into cha-ching machines for the medical communities.

The month of May also brings my yearly eye doctor appointment. My eyes are tired and bother me from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed but the doctor keeps telling me eyes are healthy and my sight hasn’t changed enough to bother getting a new prescription in three years. And my cataracts aren’t big enough---yet---for him to want to remove them. “Artificial tears,” he says, “use them up to 20 times a day.” I asked if they have a car service for cataract surgeries like the slick, new eye surgery ‘assembly line’ in town advertises. Not having any children who are obligated by love or guilt to help with transportation to and from cataract surgery is a huge concern for me. The eye doctor said there is a service in town that will pick you up, stay with you and bring you back home for any medical procedure. "Costs a royal fortunate," he said, "but it’s an option to file away in your back pocket." You can’t just call an Uber or Lyft for rides to medical procedures because they require that you have someone in the waiting room in case of emergencies. I guess having a total stranger you just met two hours ago qualities.

Have you warmed up to using Uber or Lyft? We spent our childhoods being warned about getting into cars with strangers and the only time I ever did it I got raped so now I’m supposed to unlearn all those warning that were drilled into us growing up? Granted, no one is going to want to do bodily harm to an pudgy old woman in sensible shoes…unless they're working as a ‘body procurer’ for a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci. Did you know he dissected bodies in the dead of night to learn human anatomy? He started out paying grave robbers to supply him but when they got caught taking a shortcut and helping a vagrant into the next world, his new 'body procurers' would get unclaimed bodies from the city until Leonardo finally worked his way up to getting a doctor at a hospital to give him access to cadavers. Anyway, back on topic. A few years ago I thought I was ready to try Uber when my arm was in a sling then an Uber driver in a town near-by killed six people and wounded two others and in between him shooting random people he was picking up Uber customers! At least with the medical patient courier service my eye doctor told me about I have to believe they go through a thorough screening. If not, don’t tell me. Let me live in blissful ignorance because the odds are good I may need their service someday.

I’ve turned into a quirky little creature, haven’t I. I’m afraid of my back yard, of dying in a car accident, of falling on the ice, of Italian Renaissance Era body snatchers and a hundred perfectly normal 21st century activities like wearing sleeveless blouses, roller coasters and people who dress up like zombies. Not that I was ever a fearless person in my prime. I never jumped off a dock head first, for example, without knowing how deep the water was. I refused to go sky diving in my 20s or to sit in the front row at the stock car races and I’m pretty sure my scary-cat persona was the reason the guy I was dating at the time broke up with me. But I’ll tell you what I’m not afraid of doing that most of my Gathering Girls pals won’t do. They won’t answer their front doors if someone rings their doorbell. Who’s the scary cat now?  ©

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Book Club and Sampling Children’s Books

I didn’t like the main character in the book club’s selection for our May discussion---Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. She was a mother of three, a powerhouse career woman who spent more time on her cell phone than talking with her kids and her cell phone caused her to get into a car accident that gave her a condition known as Left Neglect. I mostly associate left or right side neglect with strokes and TIAs but it can happen with other types of brain injuries and it causes the patient to literally not see things that happens on one side or the other of their bodies. Probably the most dramatic example of how it affects people is they will only eat food on one side of their plate. My dad had a mild case of Left Neglect after a TIA and my husband had a major case of Right Neglect after a massive stroke. My dad’s brain healed itself with a few months of therapy. My husband wasn’t so lucky. 

It’s rare when I don’t finish a book club book because I do love the discussions, but I got to the half way point in this book and thought, Why am I reading this? I was bored and the main character spent so much time feeling sorry for herself that she didn’t need my sympathy, assuming I could have whipped any up. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get my daily reading in this past month. I polished off five---count them---five books. Before you get too impressed I should explain they were easy-to-read children’s books. Why children’s books? I had mentioned in this blog that didn’t know any of the popular classic children’s stories because I didn’t have any kids and that I should ask my niece (who taught reading for years) to put a reading list together for me. She did better than that. For my birthday she gave me the following award winning children’s books:

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. The book was a 40th anniversary edition and, wow, I didn’t see the ending coming. I never realized the topic of grief could be so upfront in a book for young teens, and for the writing to hold up all those years, is a credit to Ms. Paterson’s immense talent. It’s a perfectly depicted and timeless story of friendship and loss.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White was also written in the 1970s and its target audience is ages 8 through 10. It’s a cute story about a swam who couldn’t talk. I loved how the author used that fact to bring humor into the story. “’Go?’ cried all the cygnets except Louis.” “’Why not?’ cried all the cygnets except for Louis.” Louis’s father was a long-winded talker and he reminded me of my husband. If most people can say something in 20 words, Louis’s father and my husband would stretch that out into a 200 word speech. Not sure if my niece saw that in the book but the parallel sure cracked me up.

The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Its target audience is probably 5th through 7th graders and it’s told through the eyes of a ten year old boy with an older brother and younger sister. It starts out in Flint, Michigan and ends up with the historic 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that was part of the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. Anyone who has raised boys would love this book. Hallmark liked it enough to make it into a movie.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, was my favorite book in the batch and I really didn’t want this book to end because I’m a sucker for a good dog book. The characters were quirky and funny and so well-drawn I felt like I could move into the neighborhood and fit right in. It will get a second reading.

I saved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle to read last because it’s been a favorite of my niece’s since her childhood. It’s a fantasy sci-fi about a girl who travels through time and space to help her father fight an evil force and it’s been in continuous print since 1963. But it’s a book that is not without controversy. According to the American Library Association it’s one of the 100 most frequently challenged books by groups who want to ban it from schools. It’s in good company in that regard standing alongside Harry Potter and Captain Underpants and from my era of storytelling: To Kill a Mockingbird and The Wizard of Oz. One bone of contention is a very short scene suggesting that Shakespeare, Gandhi, Einstein, Buddha and Jesus are “standing together against the forces of evil” ticking off conservative Christians. Boo hoo! While book banners are focused on its religious overtones decades worth of young girls have been captivated by a having a smart and adventurous protagonist who looks like them, flaws and all. And I’m glad I finally took the time to read it.

Did your kids have a favorite book growing up? Did you? ©