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, June 3, 2020

Air Hugs and other Pandemic Adjustments

The post below was written before the protests and riots took place in recent days, but before you get to that piece of fluff I want to say that I am without words to express the sadness and shame I feel over what is going on in our nation, as if the pandemic and crashing economy wasn't enough to keep me up at night. Yet I understand the outrage over the racial disparages in our justice system that are fueling the protests that led to the riots. Perhaps if our "very fine president" has listened---really listened---back when sports figures were trying to shine a light on this issue by taking a knee in silence protest we might not be where we’re at today. Instead, he scorned and belittled them and their method of protesting. Are we listening now? Is the president? In my heart I know that's too much to ask of a man who is incapable of showing empathy and compassion unless the protesters are holding Confederate flags and guns at the Michigan State capital or chanting Nazi slogans in North Caroline. He's incapable of bringing two groups of people together---blacks and whites, Democrats and Republics, radicals and pacifists and I question if he'd even want to because he feeds off chaos and divisiveness. I am by no means saying he started the riots, but his tone-deafness to social injustice issues has helped set the table for them coming to our cities nationwide. We will survive this dark period in our history but the fastest track to making the systemic changes needed to make the darkness pass is to vote Mr. Trump out of office. End of Rant.

Beginning of my Fluffy Post: New Flash: I saw three people this week and it got as personal as staying six feet apart can get during a pandemic lock-down. Air hugs all around and I was excited to finally be able to use my words on someone other than the dog. The most fun was a visit from the son-I-wish-I-had and his wife. He called to say he had picked up his and my checks from the auction house and wanted to drop mine off while he was passing through my neighborhood. But holy crap, he was only ten minutes away! Ten minutes isn’t enough time to get dressed AND pick up nine weeks’ worth stuff around the house that never found its way back to where it belongs---that pile of shoes by the door, dead dog toys all over the floor, unread mail piled in an isolation box waiting for the cooties and Covil-19 germs to die, dust a mile thick on all the furniture. And did I mentioned the shipping supplies and boxes of e-bay stuff that has taken over my dining room table as well as my library? If he’d called two days later the place would have looked great. My cleaning girl was coming the next day and I had planned to do my pre-cleaning for her real cleaning that afternoon.

It was early and I was still in my nightgown and robe which quickly got peeled off my lazy body and exchanged for real clothes and I was thankful I had my new turban from Amazon to put over my shaggy hair. It was such a beautiful day outside that when Tim and his wife came to the door I suggested we visit outside so that Levi and I could get some time in the sun while we talked over the hood of his truck. What? You think it was rude not to invite them in just because you know my hidden agenda was to save myself from being embarrassed by my messy house? No, it wasn’t rude, given the fact that pandemic rules of engagement are still in effect in my state. They both have elderly parents and they don’t go inside their houses, now, either. They give their parents air hugs from the other side of sliding glass doors---I've seen the videos on Facebook---and do other responsible things to keep their germs to their selves. Tim’s wife works in health care so it’s a real possibility she could bring something home besides her over-worked body. 

Before they got here I had put three vintage pocket watches that I couldn’t open in a basket along with a hand sanitizer packet and a gripper clothe to see if Tim could get their backs off. He couldn’t do it either which made me feel better knowing it wasn’t just my old hands that wasn't up to the task. Not being able to open and photograph the guts and serial numbers of those watches meant I couldn’t get as much money for them on e-Bay. There's a great data base of serial numbers online that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about any brand of vintage pocket watches. Opening pocket watches is tricky. Some open by pushing or pulling on the stem, others twist off on the front, others twist off on the backs. Still others have backs or fronts that you have to pry off with a special tool. The watches in the basket were the last of the eighteen pocket watches I had to send off to new homes.

Make that seventeen watches, not eighteen, because I did find one gold case that was empty in my husband’s box of treasures. It was tagged with a message that it fit his mother’s pocket watch---interchangeable with the silver-plate case it had when it got passed down to one of his brothers. I’ve decided to keep the case and put a photo inside. I seriously doubt the gold case was actually owned by Don’s mom. He probably bought it, intending to swap it out for her before she died, or he was hoping one day that he’d inherit her pocket watch instead of his brother. Kind of hard to pick a dead guy’s brain and since I’ve found very few why-did-he-do-that mysteries as I’ve gone through my husband’s things, I consider myself one lucky widow. That didn’t come out right. I meant I’ve heard about other widows finding proof of secret children, secret affairs, secret bank accounts, secret porn collections and other mysteries that turned their grief into angry resentment and a sense of betrayal that makes it harder to get closure. But Don still gets to wear his shining knight’s armor even though my princess crown got sent to Goodwill with all my other Red Hat Society stuff. 

The other person I saw this week was my cleaning girl. I was happy to have a clean house again and happy that she could channel her OCD in a healthy direction. I've missed this girl and our conversations. When her boss called to set up the appointment for Purity she said she’d be wearing a mask and gloves and wanted to know if there was anything else I’d want her to do to make me feel safe. I said, “As long as Purity doesn’t bring cleaning clothes into my house that she’s used in other places I’m good.” By the way, ‘Purity’ is her real name and I asked her once if she liked her name. She grew up in a darkly abusive home that left her far from pure and has an alphabet full of syndromes that she still occasionally see a mental health professional for, so I was surprised that she answered in the affirmative. I was thinking her name hung a target on her back for the bullies of the world to use against her. So much for my arm chair psychology degree. Turns out it’s not worth any more than Lucy's in a plastic Peanuts village.  ©

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mr. Rogers, Sex, Racism and Aliens from Outer Space

Here I am again staring at a blank computer screen and wondering what I’m going to write about. At times like this do I call on Stephen King or Fred Rogers for inspiration? Mr. King, when people ask him how to write, he answers, “One word at a time” which seems like he blowing them off but, really, he’s not. You can’t write if all you do is think about writing. He goes on to explain that the Great Wall of China was built one brick at a time and you can see it from space. So what’s a little blog post between friends? I can do this! The trick is to figure out the right words to use in the right order and Mr. King keeps that secret close to his vest. 

I mentioned Fred Rogers  as inspiration for blog fodder because too often since the pandemic started I’ve been thinking about of one of his songs, hoping it would conjure up a magical spell or fantasy that will set my world right again.

“What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong...
And nothing you do seems very right?

“What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?”

I’m obviously too old to bite or punch although some old people have been known to revert back to those childhood habits but I’m not going there if I can help it. “Pound some dough” though is thought-provoking considering that so many people have taken up baking during the pandemic that it’s caused a shortage of flour nation-wide. Did we learn that trick for coping with stress in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood so long ago that we’d forgotten why kneeing dough helps calm our minds? Or is it something more primal inside us? I always found baking bread to be meditative and it didn’t hurt that making artisan breads was one of the few things I was actually good at doing in a kitchen.

Speaking of kitchens I’ll tell you a secret; I kind of wish now that my husband and I tried sex in the kitchen. (It’s all those stupid romance books I’ve been reading that’s making me type this confession.) I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing that we never did it the kitchen or we just didn’t think of it but whatever the reason that ship has sailed without me. Even if I was still interested, there aren’t men in my peer age group who could lift me up to sit on the edge of countertop so we could---shall we say---line up our ‘baking equipment’ and that might be the least of an old dude’s problems. Egads, I need a Clorox Disinfecting Wipe to get that image out of my head! Funny thing about fantasies, though, I’m always young, fun and sassy in mine. And just in case you're wondering---and who doesn't---"wham-bam thank you ma’am" is literally defined as a sexual encounter conducted quickly. It's been around since the 1950s and it was made popular by Dean Martin.

Tip for the day: We can’t play tag with our friends during social distancing because being tagged “it” could cause us to get us sick and die, and if you’re black you also can’t run as fast as you can without chancing getting killed for #runningwhileblack. There’s a list of 100 Things Not to do While Black online with links back to stories of everyday things people of color have done that caused a white person to call the police---too many of which resulted in unjustified killings. Black kids as young as seven have been shot by the police for doing normal kid stuff. And it doesn’t matter what kind of neighborhood you’re in. A former White House aid under Obama was moving into an Upper West Side Manhattan apartment and someone called 911 to report he was burglarizing the place. Some people say that racism has gotten worse since Obama became president, that he somehow caused a wider divide and I used say, "No" his getting elected just brought the racism out in the open. Then I heard Will Smith squash both those ideas on the Stephen Colbert show when he said, “Racism Is Not Getting Worse. It's Getting Filmed." Yup, the popularly of cell phones is just documenting what’s been there all along.

I've gotta end this blog post someplace and if I was writing fiction I’d have a mass invasion of purple aliens coming to earth in peace with a Covid-19 vaccinate and a way to mindwipe bigotry out of existence. And while we wait for that to happen, let's all pledge to stay safe from the virus and to not rush to judgement regarding those who are protesting in the streets (before the White Supremacists and anarchists entered the fray and turn the protests into riots). Sure, it's bad, it's shocking, it's tragic, it's terrifying and the lawlessness needs to end, but try to remember that when activists like Colin Kaepernick took a silence knee at sporting events to draw attention to the types of things that sparked this recent violence, few people listened. Let's hope something or someone can find a middle ground in between these two extreme ways of reacting to the same social injustices so that more people will demand systemic changes. God help us if we can't.  #blacklivesmatter! ©

Wham Bam...one of the things I didn't know when I was a teenager