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, 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?

Saturday, September 11, 2021

My Super-Doper Weight Loss Discovery

Remember back before my house sold when I was eating my way through my stress and I topped off the 5-6 pounds I gained during the pandemic last winter with a few more? Guess what! They’re all gone now plus a couple of extras and I hit a low I haven’t been at since before the pandemic. How did I accomplish this blissful feat? It wasn’t a planned diet nor did I lose any limbs but since I started the packing process I’ve been so busy that my step counter says I’ve been reaching my daily goal of 6,000 step in the middle of the afternoon---instead of closer to bedtime, if at all---plus for some odd reason I started buying BelVita Breakfast cookies. I don’t know what’s in those suckers but I can eat a serving size package at 7:30-8 o’clock and they keep the hunger away until noon-ish. Not bad for a 230 calorie, flavorful cardboard-like breakfast.

At noon I’ve been drinking an Atkin’s meal replacement shake which is nothing new for me to do when I'm busy and they keep me from thinking about food until 5-6:00 when I’ve been having a Stoufer’s or Atkin’s frozen dinner or take out. It’s been several weeks since I used up all real food in my freezer---chicken, beef, salmon, pork, homemade chili, etc.---and I haven’t wanted to buy more. Same with my pantry, I’ve used up as much stuff as I can. Most of the snack foods are gone from the house and evn if it wasn't by evening when I’d normally be tempted by them, I’ve been too tired to walk out to the kitchen to scout out what's left in the cupboards.

I’m glad I decided not to upgrade my wardrobe before the move. If I can keep this up through the fall and winter I’ll be in a smaller size by spring when I'll have fun wearing out the pages of the L.L. Bean catalog. With a gym roughly a 100 feet from my new apartment door and two on-campus restaurants that will be serving far better and healthier food than I’ll been eating since before the pandemic, there is no reason why I can’t keep this ball rolling to a new me.

And guess what else is new! I got my long, pandemic driven hair cut off. Gone are the sexy locks and in its place is an easy-breezy style. It still isn't as short as I’ve worn it most of my life but I told my stylist I wanted to get rid of four inches and leave two-three to possibly get cut off at my next and last haircut with her. I'm going to miss that girl! She’s helped me grow my hair out to the longest it's been since I was a child. It's been a fun distraction when I had the time to mess with it. Growing it out and getting haircuts every four weeks doesn’t compute for some people but my hair grows fast and needs to be trimmed and thinned like clock work or it goes Afro. Not that there’s anything wrong with having an Afro but that style on white-bread me gives me nightmares of what my high school senior photos looked like when all the cool girls in my class had straight-as-a-pin pageboys.

The son-I-wish-I-had came over this week and we make a game plan for the week of the move which settled my nerves down considerably. His sons are helping Tim load and unload the truck---he's licensed to drive large vehicles and has been doing so for decades. They are all work horses and great people to be around if you don’t talk politics. Tim owns a business that includes moving stuff out of houses and cleaning them up after people move out. He gets a lot of business from banks that have done foreclosures and realtors who sell estate houses. In both cases families tend to walk away from a lot of the contents. Tim will do a good job for me---he moved me into this house---and I’ll be saving several thousand dollars. Not that I’m using him to save money. I was to be his Guinea Pig to see if he wanted to expand his business to offer a service of helping seniors downsize and move. 

We both did some research into the idea, including having him sit in on a couple of free estimates I got from companies who do that sort of thing. In the end, he decided the senior moving service business is not for him. The two businesses we sucked information up from both have retail shops to sell the downsizing stuff they get paid too well to pack up and haul away. They charge $75 an hour per person. Tim's going rate is a two hour minimum for $75 then $35 per hour after that for his wages and $25 for his extra workers. One of the downsizing specialists had actual dollar signs lighting up her greedy eyes when she walked through my house like I was too stupid to know I had some valuable stuff she could charge me to haul away, then sell to line her purse.

I've got to get back to work. I have a small chair cushion to cover and an oil lamp to clean---both sentimental pieces from the cottage where I spent all my summers growing up. I need to get that lamp oil up to hazardous waste and return the shoot stapler that I borrowed for the cushion project. It's a wicker chair I used as a toddler and I was planning to used that chair as a toy box for Levi...but we all know how that's turning out. I don't know how to say this without sounding "???" but thoughts of leaving my life with Levi behind in this house is hitting me harder than leaving the memory triggers of husband behind. I saw someone walking a schnauzer yesterday and out of no where I burst into tears. I guess six months of mourning the fact that I'll probably never had another fur baby is not long enough...  ©