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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Ride Up and Down Memory Lane

When my brother was four-five years old, my mom took us downtown and during the course of our shopping trip the three of us got on a crowded elevator. My brother was never a shy or coy kid and when he had a question to ask he’d belted it out and that day, in between floors, he was curious. “Momma,” he said, honestly dismayed and pointing to another person on the elevator, “Why doesn’t that lady wash her face?” My mom was mortified but the black lady laughed. It was the 1940s and this anecdote speaks volumes about the times and the fact that a kid from the suburbs could be almost old enough for kindergarten before seeing his very first non-white person.

My second memorable elevator ride was in the Empire State Building---memorable because it was the setting for a full-blown panic attack. Not my first, but the worst one of my entire life. It was in the 1950s, a time when I was in love with art deco architecture and I had been looking forward to this trip to the public observatory at the top. Unfortunately, once I got up there I found out that I had no more love of heights than I did for being locked inside a “windowless box” grinding and groaning its way to the top of that beautiful building.

Twenty-some years later, when Don and I was in Chicago about to get on the elevator at the Sears Tower, I could feel another major panic attack coming on so I made an excuse and refused to get in. My ancestor, Elisha Otis, founder of the Otis Elevator Company, was probably rolling over in his grave over my behavior. But Don had a different reaction because as it turned out that elevator, which he got on to but I didn’t, got stuck between floors and it took a half hour to free him and the other passengers. He got off it in awe of me, thinking that I was clairvoyant and saw that event coming. I never corrected that impression. We were newly in love and I wasn’t about to start punching gems out of my princess crown.

It was shortly after Don’s stroke in 2000 when we had the next memorial ride on an elevator. Don was being transferred from one facility to another and the ambulance-cab driver in charge of transferring Don didn’t get his wheelchair far enough into an elevator and the door shut on his toes. The elevator car moved down several feet while Don’s foot was going upward before the driver realized what she’d done and pushed the emergency stop button. Then it took awhile for us to get Don’s toes uncaught from the rubber door seals because the door wouldn’t open in between floors.

My last memorable elevator experience happened at a Christian college where Don was taking speech classes. He’d spent the morning trying to teach himself how to swear; specifically to say “Jesus Christ!” to someone who’d cut me off in traffic only it kept coming out as “Jesus Crust.” He knew it sounded wrong but he couldn’t figure out how to say it correctly. Don also rolled the words ‘Jesus Cuss’ around on his tongue a few times and finally went back to ‘Jesus Crust’ all the while giving me ‘The Look’ that said, “Help me out here, woman!”

“Don’t look at me, Buddy-Boy,” I told him. “I’m not helping you learn how to swear.”

Finally, the conversation was all but forgotten until we were on the college campus. As I stood there waiting for the slowest elevator on the face of the planet, I remarked to Don, “Boy, is this elevator slow.”

“Jesse Crust!” he swore back in front of a hall full of students and a few professors.

Who’s going to make me laugh now? Who’s going to look at me like I still have a few rubies left in my princess crown? Who’s going to be my best friend, my favorite companion, my sounding board? Everything I see, everything I do takes me on a ride up and down Memory Lane. No one told me that grief takes you back before you can move forward. Or maybe it’s just me…….©


  1. Jean:

    I loved your trip down memory lane, I get to know prestroke Don with who you fell in love with, I feel his elevator getting stuck in sears tower has to be due to you angry at him for leaving you & going in without you :).


  2. I couldn't get angry over him going on the elevator without me. It was my choice. LOL