Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sense of Purpose

Well I did it. I signed the paperwork to rent some space in an antique mall….just three shelves in a locked showcase, but with the tourist season coming I’m hopeful I can find new homes for some of Don’s smalls. ‘Smalls’ in collector circles are anything from dime-sized whatnots to items 5-6 inches in size. Smalls are the little items that fill in around the bigger, high ticket items that you see in antique shops. My collection of Cracker Jack premiums and Don’s collection of advertising ink pens are examples of smalls. We have a gazillion ‘smalls’ in the house. So between here and May 1st I’ll be in price marking hell. But three shelves is not a major commitment, and my little venture won’t be time intense once I get the shelves stocked for the first time.

I hope I’m doing the right thing at the right time. It felt good up at the antique mall today, to be in the presence of others who understand the obsession of collecting. But handling Don’s collectibles and remembering the where, when and how he got this or that might be hard. There was always a story attached to each new acquisition.

Some people are clueless about why some of us amass a quantity of anything you can’t use. I have a relative who collects advertising yard sticks because he likes the history behind the obsolete businesses they came from. A friend of ours collects post cards because it’s a way of learning geography. Another friend doesn’t collect anything older than dust bunnies and very few of them because she’s a bit of a cleaning Nazi which is why she doesn’t like having useless objects around. We are all so different. And just as our collections are different, people collect for a variety of reasons:

1) To bring back good childhood memories
2) To invest (hopefully) in something you enjoy looking at
3) To be an obsessed fan of all things related to a certain topic
4) To have bragging right to having found something unique
5) To have fun---the thrill of the hunt

Don fell into the latter two categories of collectors. He was an obsessed hunter who loved to story tell after the hunt was long over and done. He could go into a flea market that covered acres and come out with the tiniest things, like looking for a needle in a haystack. If he’d been a caveman hunting for survival his family would not have starved to death. He was a good hunter of things. Too good.

I feel over whelmed a lot since Don died. There’s so much to do if I’m going to put myself in a position where I can downsize next year to a smaller place. But any deadlines I have are all self imposed so they really don’t count, do they. At least that’s what I keep telling myself in an attempt to quell my sense of panic. What does count is that I’ve lost my sense of purpose in life now that I’m no longer a wife and caregiver and I don’t think I can get that back until I can move on to a life without all of Don’s stuff weighting me down. As small as this mall project is going to be, I hope it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t want this transitional period in my life to become my sole purpose in life. I’m old and I have other things I want to do. ©


  1. "I've lost my sense of purpose in life now that I'm no longer a wife and caregiver..." I'm still caring for my husband, but I relate to that so well. I hate the fact that caring seems to have become my purpose in life - and though I do it with love and devotion, part of me is also doing it grudgingly, I'm afraid. Perhaps because I'm 17 years younger than my husband and feel the end of my busier life has come too soon. Someone asked me what I'd do if or when my husband died. I said I'd sell up, buy a caravan (or trailer, in US parlance) and take off. I probably wouldn't do that, but it did seem an apt metaphor for the feeling of being trapped in a life I hadn't bargained for. But only another long-time carer could understand that feeling without thinking me cruel or loveless. I say: Get out there and chase some dreams.

  2. I sure do know exactly what you mean. Family caregivers get trapped into a life not of their choosing. Even though it's done out of love it still stifles all our dreams. Hugs to you and thanks for the comment.