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, March 3, 2012

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

If you ever plan to motor west,
travel my way, take the highway that's the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66.
It winds from Chicago to LA,
more than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route 66....

In the mid 1940’s I was still a toddler when Nat King Cole first sang the song above. It was written by Bobby Troupe, a former piano player in the Tommy Dorsey Band, and one of my earliest memories of my mom is of her dancing in the kitchen as this song was playing on the record player. She loved her music. She would hand-copy the lyrics off from records, playing them over and over again until she got all the words down on paper. I still have her black notebook filled with lyrics. When my brother and I were old enough to do dishes, that notebook was propped up in the window sill for us to sing from as we worked. Later in life, Mom told me she had us singing because if we were singing we weren’t fighting.

Lots of people in my age bracket have romanticized Route 66 in one way or another. As kids some of us saw the movie inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath novel about the Dust Bowl immigration and we got our first introduction to the Mother Road. Some of us might have taken vacations along Route 66 back when it was in its heyday of motor courts, camp grounds, cottages, restaurants, souvenir shops and tourist traps. Even as late as the ‘60s, a TV show tried to immortalize the Route 66 highway.

Don and I got caught up in Route 66 history via way of map and gas station memorabilia collecting. Route 66 and the evolution of the gas station go hand-in-hand; you can’t be a serious collector without having acquired a couple of books devoted to the architecture along Route 66. One year in the late '70s or early '80s---before the historical societies along the Mother Road started working to preserve what they could---Don and I tried to follow as much of the old Route 66 highway as humanly possible. Even though parts of it were gone or deserted, it was still a memorable trip. We’d always gotten a kick out of interacting with people along the back roads of heartland America. We’d planned on taking the Corvette back to Route 66 to one of the Vette rallies the historical societies sponsor. That was a pre-stroke dream that in our “wheelchair era” never came to pass. Big sigh here.

Up until a few years ago we had a Route 66 shower curtain in the bathroom. I made it myself and I still have that curtain. It’s a back drop to some of Don’s collectibles now and it’s going to be hard to see it go to make room for the next chapter in my life. I’m too sentimental for my own good. But I’ll probably keep our Route 66 books. You can never have too many books.

It’s funny how our pasts and presents connect. I’d sung hundreds of songs as a kid. I’d taken a dozen vacations with my folks and even more with Don. I’d see thousands of TV shows including those in the sixties when Martin Milner and George Meharis rode the Mother Road. Yet with all those choices out in the world---all those paths to walk---I still find the re-occurring themes in my life to be the best. And when you get a chance to share some of those re-occurring themes with your soul mate you know you've had a little piece of heaven right here on earth. ©

Now you go through Saint Louis
Joplin, Missouri,
and Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip;
when you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66.

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