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, September 22, 2021

He's in the Dog House Now!

I'm write something current for Saturday. In the meantime this post is one of my favorites  From the Planet Aphasia, my caregiver blog. You don't have to be a caregiver to understand the humor or the stress of the day I wrote about below....

The atmosphere here on the Planet Aphasia is warping my waffles. Don't ask me what that means. If your waffles are warped too, you'll understand. If not, trust me when I say that it's not a good thing here in the city of Caregiverville.

Every year there are eighty thousand new cases of the language disorder, aphasia, and I get a singer. Headline: Giddy Husband Tools Around In his Wheelchair Greeting his Day Like he's Been Over-Dosing On his Celexia Again.

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you," my husband, Don, belted out like he was determined to be heard on the moon.

The problem is no one was having a birthday. The song is one of two that Don's aphasic brain can sing using actual lyrics. Well, sort of---the words often come out like they went through a blender first.

I should be happy for lyrics. Any lyrics. After all, Don has so few words in his vocabulary since his stroke. But these two songs are different. They're ones my husband learned when he was still using a highchair and they're stored in a relatively undamaged part of his brain. Even so, hearing "happy birthday" was a pleasure this morning---for the first hour. In the second hour, sweet little wifey poo that I am, I politely requested that he switch to his other song.

"Jesus likes me. Yo, you know," he complied. Okay, so he's got work to do on that childhood favorite before he's ready for American Idol.

"Yo," I interrupted Don, "Jesus likes me? I think he loved you when you were a kid."

This afternoon we were coming back from running errands and no one had yet found the switch on the back of Don's head to turn him off and he was getting annoying. Back up here---I'll admit that I was more than annoyed. I'd reached my quota of being a Nice Nancy about the never ending, loop of songs.

I pulled over to the side of the road and told him to get out if he couldn't behave himself. Hey, it worked on my brother and me when we were kids so I figured why not give it a try. And for a split second I thought that I really could do that, shove Don and his songs out the door and drive off. How much trouble could a person get into for leaving a wheelchair bound guy sitting at the side of a country road, singing "Yo, Jesus?"

When I shifted the car into park, Don looked at me as if---well, as if I'd warped my waffles for good this time, permanently indenting brain matter that isn't suppose to be marked with such a precise pattern of man-made deformities.

"I mean it," I practically shouted, trying to sound mean and bitchy. "Get out or get quiet!" If I were inclined to be honest here I'd admit that it wasn't much of a stretch for me to be the perfect bitch. Four hours of "Jesus has a birthday" or whatever it was that Don was singing at the top of his happy little lungs was doing a number on my head.

My husband took in my angry words and gave me an angelic smile, his blue eyes smoldering with mischievousness and after a very---and I do mean very---long pregnant, aphasia driven pause he said, "Change lanes."

I stared at Don for a full minute. I couldn't have been more astonished if he'd just used ruby red fingernail polish for eye liner and I wanted to bang my head on the steering wheel. (Now you know how waffles get warped in Caregiverville.) It's been five years, ten months and seven days that I've been trying to teach Don to say "change lanes" and "turn here" when we're in the car and he's frantically trying to get me to do one or the other. And the gods of Aphasia, bless their wicked asses, picked that time to let the words come down the pike and out his mouth.

"Okay, buddy-boy," I said with recessing gruffness as my bitch persona made her exit and I shifted the Blazer back in gear. "I'll change lanes and we'll go home. Together. But don't you forget that you're in the dog house now!" ©

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Highs and Lows of one Crazy Week

Let's get the low out of the way because it wasn’t so earth shakingly awful that it could harm body or soul. It was just stressful to the control freaking side of my personality. Raise your hand if you knew I was like that. You also know that I’m moving, right? That’s a joke for anyone who’s been reading my blog more than a year. It seems like I’ve been writing about aspects of the process since the turn of the century. 

This week I had two women who work for my cleaning service scheduled to pack the kitchen and originally the master closet. When they got here they said they only had an hour and a half before they had to be at their next job. “But we can get it all done in that length of time.” They didn’t. The kitchen is barely a third done, and with the time restrain I scratched them doing the closet and I had one of them take the art off the walls instead, then start shrink wrapping all the stuff with drawers while the other lady worked in the kitchen. After seeing how careless she was at packing my glasses, cups and stemware I was grateful the universe saw fit to do me a favor when they got doubled booked and couldn't stay all afternoon.

If the dish barrel box gets to its destination with no breakage I’ll be surprised. the woman had the box half full when I stopped her from putting heavy stoneware cups on top of fragile antique cups with just a foam pad in between and to make it even worse she had the antique cups resting in the pockets on their sides, not their bottoms or tops. She also only had one strip of tape on the bottom of the box and it didn't even wrap up the sides. Those dish barrel are huge and heavy. I don’t know what she was thinking to only put one piece of tape up the center to join the two flaps. I made her tip the box up while I added more tape. She was snarky when I first asked about it. “I’ve packed many houses up and never had a box come apart.” And I got snarky back at her, “I’m a worry-wart and have lots of tape, so humor me.”

This week I had to make my final payment on the continuum care campus apartment where I’m moving. The first one was in June of 2019 when all there was were huge drawings and blueprints on the walls of a newly built sales office next to the building site. The first time I drove down the wooded driveway and saw the lake off to the side, I knew I wanted to live there. The setting reminded me of our family cottage where I spent all my summers growing up.

Even if Covid hadn’t shut down the building process down for one whole winter it still would have been a long time windup. And yet with all that time to plan I still don’t think I downsized enough. Like I told the son-I-wish-I-had this week, “No one needs four boxes of sea shells.” Oh yes, I got a carried away with pushing the western theme decor out of my life and embracing the beach cottage theme that previously only occupied my guest bath and sun porch. But never fear, before coming home from making my last payment I scouted out the closest Goodwill and found it an easy three minutes away. That's Plan C but it's still a plan for all the stuff I don't have room for once I start unpacking. Plan B is to rotate decor with the season. Some people swap throw pillows at holidays, I could swap out whaling lamps for 1940s sand toys.

Oh, and do your remember that landline phone number I've had for 35 years and am trying to port to my upgraded cell phone? I started the port process August 20th and they still can't work it out between Great Calls/Lively and Spectrum. I just got off the phone with Great Calls and they are giving me a $100 credit on my account to make up for the frustration I'm going through but they still don't have a for sure answer for if I'll be able to keep my old number. My new best friend at Great Calls says their entire port team has never seen anything like my case. Spectrum is now claiming they don't own the number they've been charging me monthly to use for the past 20 years. On another day they said the number was deactivated and out of service for a long time. Yet here we are.

If you’re reading this on the date it’s published (Saturday the 18th) the count down to my move is 17 days. Today when I made my final payment I also made the appointment to pick up my keys, parking pass, WiFi passwords and ID badge after which Tim and I are going to move stuff into my underground storage space and generally show him around for moving logistics. I’ll also be dropping off water, toilet paper, box cutters and other necessities we'll need the following day for the actual move. Sleeping there that first night will be kind of creepy. They'll only be four of us moved in by then. After that four people a day will be moving in all through October.

Four days before my move-in date they’re having a dinner in the new restaurant to welcome all the residents and five days after my move they’re having a Grand Opening party/media event. Look for me on the five o'clock news. Who am I kidding? I'll be so worn out by the Grand Opening I'll probably fall asleep before they serve the champagne. ©

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Life is Perfect, Even When it's Not

Today's post reaches back nearly twenty years to a time when I first started blogging and my husband was still alive. It's always been one of my favorite posts from my caregiver days and I'm hoping you'll enjoy the break from my caterwauling about moving which is the only thing going on in my life right now. With only twenty days left to go before the big move I plan to recycled an older post for the next two Wednesday and (hopefully) real-time posts on the next three Saturdays, then get back into my regular writing routine. In the meantime here's Life is Perfect, Even When it's Not.

At the dentist office today, I took my wheelchair bound, right-side paralyzed husband, Don, to the restroom. It’s a good one with grab bars situated so that he---with my help---can stand up to pee. But first we had to get him out of his coat. Its nylon and is so slippery it would be like holding on to slime, should I have to catch him in a fall. That task accomplished, I got Don’s pants down and held his shirt out of the way while both of us stood side by side waiting for the flow to start. It didn’t. So, I’m humming game show tunes in my head---the kind they play while a contestant is trying to come up with an answer while the clock ticks away. For some reason the wait seemed longer than usual which made me think of our friend who has a ‘shy bladder.’ He can’t pee if someone else is in the room.

“Ron better hope,” I said to Don, “that he never needs help peeing.” Don got the humor in that statement which gave us both the giggles. We were giggling and laughing so hard by the time the pee stream hit the bowl it’s a wonder it found its mark and didn’t cover our shoes instead. The restroom is just a few feet from the receptionist’s desk and heaven knows what she was thought we were doing in there. The look on her face when we came out was priceless. She wanted to ask. Oh boy, did she want to ask but her phoo-phoo manners wouldn’t let her.

As I sat in the waiting room while Don got his teeth cleaned, I picked up an old copy of Real Simple magazine. On the first page I turned to was a Ralph Lauren double-page layout for Polo Black, a men’s fragrance that featured a hot model. And I do mean sexy as in take-off-your-clothes-and-let-me-see-the-rest-of-you sexy! I looked at him, and then around the room trying to figure out if the Thought Police was present. I decided that a dentist’s waiting room was not a good place to have a virtual orgasm, so I quick turned the page. Thanks goodness, the next page was a double-page layout for a Chevy. Cool. Keep those cars selling, we need their pension money. I flipped through a few more pages and came to an ad for Starbucks coffee liqueur which was exactly what I needed after lusting after the Ralph Lauren guy. I’ve never smoked but that guy had me reaching into my purse for a pack of cigarettes and I came out with a stick of gum.

By now I was beginning to think that the Real Simple magazine was nothing but advertisements. Duh, aren’t most of them? And sure enough, the next page was a double-page layout for American Express featuring Ellen DeGeneres. She says in the ad that her life is perfect, even when it’s not. Wow, what a nice thing to be able to say about your life! I think I actually know what she means.

Finally, I came across a few articles in the magazine. ‘What’s the Craziest Thing you ever did for Love?’ was the title of one article, and there were some notable answers like: “take skydiving lesson,” “move into a log cabin built in the 1800,” and “eloped 36 days after meeting someone.” Another article was titled, ‘Portrait of a Family.’ There is humor in this, I thought about reading these two articles back-to-back because my family portrait and the craziest thing I ever did for love could be one and the same. Yup, I’m getting out the oils and easel and painting a portrait of Don and myself. We’ll be standing side by side, leaning over a toilet bowl, expectantly looking down and hoping that neither one of us ends up with pee our shoes. Love doesn’t get much crazier than that, does it?