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

Friday, April 13, 2012


In 2004, according to Wikepedia, the word ‘serendipity’ was voted one the ten hardest English words to translate. It’s been around since 1754 when it was coined by an Englishman, Horace Walpole, after he had read an ancient Persian fairy tale set in a country called Serendip or Serendippo depending on the translation. The heroes in the Three Princes of Serendip were always making discoveries by accident in their quest to track a lost ‘camel’ they’d never seen. Thus the word ‘serendipity’ was born to describe happy accidents or good luck finding things we’re not actually looking for in our travels through life. I love the word ‘serendipity.’ I like saying it. I like the way it sounds and its meaning. I like thinking about the different ways serendipity enriches our lives. If I win the lotto and could buy the cottage of my dreams I’d name it Serendipity. I also like houses that have names.

Serendipity was going to the Butterflies in Bloom exhibit yesterday---to start an annual pilgrimage during the week of Don’s and my birthdays and anniversary---and finding out the botanical gardens and sculpture park hold art classes and workshops. Last winter I spent a couple of hours online trying to find myself a leisure time art class in the area with no success. And yesterday they just fell in my lap at a point in my life when I will have the time (and hopefully the money) to get back to one of my first passions in life---drawing and painting. But I need to do it in baby steps; I have to know, first, that I can actually spend several hours with strangers without breaking out crying. I’ll start by becoming a member of the gardens and learn my way around the place---it’s huge, 132 acres---and maybe wait until fall to actually sign up for a workshop.

Yesterday’s pilgrimage turned out to be the life affirming experience I had hoped it would. It was a bright, sunny day and the minute I sat down to watch the butterflies in flight overhead and all around me I felt at peace. One particular 3-4 inch blue butterfly kept trying to land of people and I was envious of others wearing brightly colored, floral blouses. I don’t own one, or picture myself ever buying one, but I did wish I had purchased the floral patterned summer purse I rode around in my shopping cart recently before returning it back to the rack. It’s going to take baby steps to updating my wardrobe as well. But one way or another, I’ll have a butterfly attracting flower with me when I return to this exhibit next year. After an hour with the butterflies I took an hour tram ride around to see the outdoor sculptures. On the ride I learned that this park ranks in the top 30 Must-See Museums in the world. And it only takes me 20 minutes to get there! 

It wasn’t the first time I’d been there. A few years back I took Don to see the butterflies but it was too hard to get him and his wheelchair around with my old lady lack of energy for pushing. We’d also been there four months after his stroke. It was a graduation-from-rehab field trip and his physical and occupational therapists were there to get him standing up just long enough for a photo-op underneath the park’s signature bronze piece---a 24 foot bronze horse. It was supposed to symbolize what can happen when you never give up on your dreams, because this colossal horse was 500 years in the making. I wonder how often I’ll have to see that sculpture before I can look at it without tearing up. We were all so proud of Don that day. 

And since this essay is about serendipity, I’d be remiss for not pointing out that the inspiration for this huge bronze sculpture came from the drawing board of Leonardo deVinci, a commissioned piece that fell through due to war breaking out and the bronze being needed for other purposes. It was pure serendipity the day the founder of our local botanical garden and sculpture park happened to see those deVinci drawings while visiting a bronze foundry where he was checking on a little piece he had commissioned. He was intrigued by the detailed deVinci plans, and the story behind them, and he was able to help put things into motion to bring this massive sculpture to fruition. That was serendipity power at its finest! ©

“Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy.
Without risk, nothing new ever happens. Without trust, fear creeps in.
Without serendipity, there are no surprises.”
Rita Golden Gelman

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