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. Jean

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wife and Caregiver to Widowhood Transformation

Back in 2008 one of my attempts at article writing got published in a website’s humor section. They’ve since been bought out by Yahoo Contributors and somewhere along the line my article got moved to the beauty section. I can't imagine what people think when they start reading it, believing what I wrote was meant to be serious make-up advice for older women. Beauty treatments that involve cloths pins? No Way!

Little did I know back then that I’d be in hot pursuit of real beauty advice now that I’m no longer a caregiver and have the time to treat my face, nails, hair and wardrobe like the serious fixer-uppers that they are. But aren’t I worth it now that I have the time I used to spend helping my disabled husband, filling pills bottles and being a taxi service to an endless list of specialists? “Hell, yes!” the left side of my brain says while the other side laughs and claims it’s a lost cause.

My second venture into the world of spoiling myself consisted of an express pedicure and manicure. (The first was a deluxe pedicure and foot spa treatment.) The manicure didn’t even make it home before it was a mess and I had to remove all the polish. I won’t be doing that again, but I did manage to give myself a French manicure for the first time since the 1960s and I got two complements on my nails from complete strangers. So I’m thinking this old lady did good on nail pampering but, darn it all, the stupid things grew out. Who knew you’d have to get manicures all over again?

My third venture into the realm of self improvement involved getting low lights put in my hair. My hair stylist---I guess they don’t like the label ‘beauticians’ anymore---has repeated the low lights a few times, now, and I’m still not sure if I like them. No one has mentioned the new look so I’m thinking the color is either too fake to bring it up or it’s so completely natural looking that no one can tell I did anything. Either way, I keep scaring myself when I walk past mirrors. Who is that person?

“Who is that person?” Exterior changes not withstanding, I suppose that’s the question all widows are trying to sort through. Who are we without our other half? The titles of wife, caregiver and best friend (to Don) no longer apply. What is my title now? Don’t we all need titles to define how we spend our time and energy? Widow? Elderly Woman? Noted and discarded. Those are states of being, not of doing. Seeker of Truth and Beauty---that has a nice ring but how would that look on my calling card? Pompous, that’s how. That’s something that belongs on the Dali Lama XIV’s business card. He has the credentials to back up a byline like that, not me. But he probably has something selfless like: “God loves Tibet” or something low key like: “Bringing balance into a hectic world.”

I wish I could find the balance in my world. Instead, I have a kind of restless anticipation not unlike getting ready for a blind date set up by someone you don’t entirely trust. I am falling into a routine, though, but that’s not balance. Not the kind of balance that leaves you falling into bed each night as happy as a cat in an Amish milking barn. If a social opportunity comes along, I go whether I really want to or not. I talk to the dog every day and I welcome Robocalls just so I can hear a human voice. I feed my woodpeckers and finches and try to discourage the chipmunks from sitting two feet from the window where the dog takes up sentry duty. And I’ve taken up knitting again. I am progressing well compared to other widows I see at the widow’s support website. Still, I want more out of life than routine and busy work. The real me that got lost in my caregiver years, is she still out there waiting for me to find her? The Dala Lama once said: “When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways--either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” I’m challenged and I am working on that inner strength…and on finding the right coffee blend in k-cups for my Keurig.  Did I mention that widowhood makes you buy new things? ©

 My humor article....   Money Saving Tips for Old Ladies

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunday Dog Talk

Parked on the living room chair, the dog looked at me with incrimination in his soulful, dark eyes. When are you going to leave that computer keyboard? they seemed to say. Levi was bored. Heck, I was bored! So I put my coat on, grabbed the leash and shouted: “Let’s go get the mail.” It was Sunday but what does he know. A trip to the mailbox always tricks him into thinking I’m not such a bad old person after all.

At the mailbox Levi discovered he’d gotten some pee-mail from the dust-mop looking dog that lives down the street. He lifted his leg to leave a reply then checked his spelling and lifted his leg again to add a P.S. I hope he told him to get a haircut. That dog is a walking paradise for dust mites…unlike Levi with his sleek $45.00 haircut and perfectly trimmed, regulation schnauzer beard. I wonder if he appreciates how frigging much money that is! Probably not. He’s a dog with trashy tastes. He’d rather play with paper towel that accidentally gets too close to the edge of the counter top than to play with his veterinary recommended Kong toy. He hated his designer coat last winter and when Levi goes shopping at Chow Hound he always picks up those disgusting pig’s feet no matter how many times I put them back and show him something else.

After going to the mailbox the dog did what he always does afterward. He took up sentry duty in the library chair where he has a full view of where he leaves his pee-mail. Sure enough, it didn’t take long before a set of Golden Retrievers came by and intercepted his mail to the dust-mop. From the noise he was making you’d think an axe murder was outside the window trying to get inside. Lord, no wonder I couldn’t find the concentration to write my way out of my boredom!

Over Thanksgiving Levi and I watched the 2012 National Kennel Club Dog Show---both of us lying on our stomachs kitty-corner across the bed, giving the screen our full attention. I felt like a teenager again watching the Miss America Pageant only without the popcorn. The show was hosted by John O’Hurley, the guy who played Elaine’s boss on the old Seinfeld show. He strikes just the right tone of pompousness to go along with all those Barbara Doll show dogs. Every once in a while Levi would let out a woof-woof as he watched and he seemed pleased that the Wire Fox Terrier won. He probably knows they both come from common ancestry, the terrier group of "feisty dogs once trained to hunt and kill vermin."

Levi would hunt vermin if I’d let him. We argue about that all the time. Late every afternoon he sees a cat walk through the back yard and he goes nuts trying to get at it. Please, Mom! Just once let me chase that flea bitten, black vermin! Thank God he finally quit barking at birds that come in the yard. It only took him six months to learn a very important house rule: Birds are good and cats are bad.

So this is what my life has reduced to…talking to the dog. Talking about the dog. Talking to myself. Talking to the ghost in the house and wishing I got as much mail as the dog does. He even gets Sunday deliveries! How cool is that! ©

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Candle in a Widow's Window

There’s a dollar store close by and sometimes when I’m out running errands I’ll stop there because I don’t want to go home just yet. A few days ago as I wandered the aisles I came across a box of battery operated Christmas candles, the kind people put in their windows through the holidays. It’s an ancient tradition borrowed from many cultures. In Ireland, for example, during a time when Catholics were persecuted, a candle in the window signified that it was a safe house for priests to visit. In Christianity one candle in the window symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem---three candles, the Holy Family. But it was a tradition of Colonial Williamsburg that triggered a tear to roll down my cheek as I stood in the dollar store. They would place a candle in the window when a family member was off traveling, to welcome them home. Don is never coming home, but for whatever crazy reason my subconscious mind was dreaming up I had an overwhelming compulsion to buy one of those candles…for him.

I stood there for the longest time fighting the compulsion. I had decided not to do any decorating for the holidays this year. What’s the point? My first Christmas without Don is not a time to celebrate, not a time to walk through the motions of hanging ornaments and tinsel. My dad died on Christmas, my mother died on Easter. I know all about grieving through the holidays. I’m a veteran and if you look hard enough you can still see the Band-Aids on my soul. But this time is different. I don’t have Don to help me through it like I did with Dad and Mom’s passing. Call it crazy but it occurred to me that a candle in the window could be a signal to Don’s ghost that he needs to come haunt my thoughts and tell me everything will be okay. Yup. Crazy old widow lady thinks she’s living in Colonial Williamsburg and that a candle in the window will bring back her deader-than-a-doornail husband.

In the end, I bought the candle and if people going by the house think it symbolized the Star of Bethlehem or it’s an ancient sign that travelers are welcome, so be it. But to the saner side of my brain each day when dusk comes I will focus on one special memory as I go through the ritual of turning the candle on. I have no idea if my new tradition will make me feel more or less alone over the holidays. What I do know is that turning that candle on and off through the holidays seems like a good way to face my grief head on---akin to fingering prayer beads, the repetition bringing the message home: life changes and avoiding those changes only makes them hurt more.

Last night’s candle lighting memory was of the first Christmas after Mom died when no one in the family wanted to get together. (She was Christmas. It was her house everyone went dashing through the snow to find on Christmas day.) So that year instead of heading for the countryside, Don and I packed up thermos of chili and coffee, a little wine and cheese, and we headed to the ice formations along the shore of Lake Michigan where we picnicked in the snow. It was a short-lived new tradition of going to the beach on Christmas. By the third year out from mom’s passing the family started getting together again. “To everything there is a season….a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ironic isn’t it. My non-Christian ghost-in-the-house was whispering that Bible verse in my ear to comfort me through my first widow’s candle lighting ceremony.  ©

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dance Montage: Let's Dance

circa 1950, I'm 2nd in line

We all get chain emails---some annoying, some enjoyable. The enjoyable ones often include video clips featuring cute animals, beautiful scenery or photos with humorous captions. But rarely do I get one that brings joy to my heart as much as the one I’m going to write about today and is linked below. It’s a dance montage called Let’s Dance and its set to the music of All These Things That I’ve Done by the Killers. The montage was put together by Barbara Collins and includes clips ranging from Charlie Chaplin to the present day Dancing with the Star’s Maxim and Mel. Of the twenty-six clips there was only one that didn’t evoke a strong memory for me. I guess you’d call that an advantage of growing old. We old people know stuff. We’ve been there, done that and came home with tons of t-shirts that we think about making into quilts.

A lot of women in my advanced age bracket got put into dance classes at a very early age. Shirley Temple movies, no double, being the prime motivator of many parents including mine. Plus the Arthur Murray Dance Studio franchises made it so easy; if you didn’t have a studio in your town they sold dancing lessons by mail. Send in your money and you’d get a set of “footprints” on paper that would teach you the steps. In my town, the local Arthur Murray Studio was also selling poise and self-confidence for any child who’d take their golden trio of tap, ballet and acrobat. I don’t remember how many years I took lessons but judging by the recital photos in my album I’m guessing around five. I washed out of ballet and acrobat early on but I passionately adored tap dancing and I worshiped the greats of my era---Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. The little no talent kid that I was wanted to grow up and marry Gene Kelly. Jean and Gene Kelly has a nice ring don’t you think. (A few years later I had a five alarm crush on Gene Autry, but I digress.) Fast forward many decades later and I have trouble just walking to the bathroom without tripping over my own feet. I guess that Arthur Murray acquired poise and self-confidence didn’t stick.

I’m writing this blog entry for my nieces in hopes that some day if I'm too old to remember how to use the computer that they’ll show me this YouTube montage from time to time. And if it puts a twinkle in my eyes or brings a smile to lips while I’m watching it they’ll know I’m thinking about how these great performances wove in and out of my life. For example, when the Elvis Jailhouse Rock clip appears I remember the little movie theater in a town near-by our summer cottage where I first saw that film back in 1957. When I see the ballerinas performing Swan Lake I remember the college semester I took music appreciation and studied Tchaikovsky (1963). When I see the Michael Jackson clip it reminds me of the day I made Don go see This Is It and he slept through the whole thing. That was 2009. If I had to name a favorite memory this dance montage brings me it would Gene Kelly’s Singing in the Rain (1952). For some hazy reason beyond my grasp that song, that dance, always reminds me of my dad. Patrick Swayze, The Three Stooges, the cast of the Wizard of Oz---I can’t image anyone not finding a few memories while watching this montage. 

After you view Let’s Dance you’re going to want to see the lineup of performers in the video, so I’ve posted it below. You might even want to know which dance number I had never seen before. That would be Jimmy Cagney dancing down the staircase in the 1942 film, Yankee Doodle Dandy.  I think seeing that movie should go on my Bucket List, don’t you? ©

1) Svetlana Zakharova - Swan Lake  
2) Riverdance - Reel of the Sun
3) Michael Flatley - Lord of the Dance
4) Michael Jackson - Beat It
5) Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse - Singing in the Rain 
6) Elvis - Jailhouse Rock
7) Charlie Chaplin - Modern Times
8) John Travolta/Olivia Newton John - Grease
9) Jimmy Cagney - Yankee Doodle Dandy
10) Debbie Reynolds - Singing in the Rain
11) A Chorus Line
12) Patrick Swayze - Dirty Dancing
13) Natalie Wood/Richard Beymar - West Side Story
14) Al Nims & Leon James doing the Charleston
15) Maxim & Mel B - Dancing with the Stars
16) Elvis and Ann Margret - Viva Las Vegas
17) Michael Jackson from TV Special
18) Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - Swing Time
19) Gene Kelly - Singing in the Rain
20) All That Jazz
21) Three Stooges get a dance lesson
22) Flashdance
23) Shirley Temple & Bill "Bojangles" Robinson - Just Around the Corner
24) Anne Reinking - All That Jazz
25) Nicholas Brothers - Stormy Weather
26) Wizard of Oz

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lincoln the Movie: a Widow's Impression

Watching the new movie, Lincoln, I fell in love with James Spader’s character W.N.Bilbo, a real-life figure from history. One reviewer called him a “rapscallion” who “worked under the table to sway delegates in the House of Representatives.” I’m not sure what that obscure word means in this century but he was a colorful character with a kind of cockiness that only comes from a healthy dose of self-confidence and he kept me guessing about his moral character and values. Another reviewer called W.N. Bilbo a “charismatic political operative” who worked for Lincoln and by today’s standards would be akin to a lobbyist. Regardless of how you describe the man, he was part of the “Gang of Three” that put pressure on lame-duck Representatives to get them to change their vote on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to end slavery and without the Gang of Three, the course of history would have been vastly different. It wasn’t a huge role in the film compared to some of the other parts but I was fascinated enough to come home and google the guy and read book reviews at Amazon, trying to decide if I have the concentration to tackle the 944 page paperback the movie is based on: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I saw the film with the movie-and-lunch club from the senior hall but I had to skip the lunch in order to be at home for some scheduled warranty work on the house. That was a big mistake. It made me feel so alone not to have anyone to discuss the movie with. The dog didn’t care that I enjoyed the politics of how Lincoln pushed the amendment through and ended the Civil War, the arm twisting that went on and the unexpected warmth of Lincoln’s personality. The dog didn’t care that I was shocked to see the theater was filled almost to capacity at 11:30 on a Friday morning. The dog didn’t care that when Lincoln was pronounced dead at the end of the movie I had a flash-back to Don’s last day on earth and I had to fight back the tears. And the darn dog didn’t care that I will never look at another penny again without thinking of Lincoln’s passion for and skill at ending slavery.

It’s been a busy week----several appointments, shopping, the movie and lunch with my in-laws. At lunch I was telling my sister-in-law that trying to find and build new friendships is now my biggest challenge in widowhood. In truth I’m very lucky in that regard. I don’t have any of the more common widowhood challenges: financial hardship, being helpless about maintenance issues, dealing with the grief of children, or clinical depression. And I haven’t dealt with feelings of guilt since the first few months---the ‘shoulda, coulda, and woulda’ syndrome that applies to so many life-altering events. In the Lincoln movie they brought out the fact that Mary Lincoln suffered a great deal from feelings of guilt over the death of one of their four sons. Throw in her migraines, chronic depression and possible bi-polar disorder you have a woman whose life was not all it shoulda, coulda, woulda been had fate dealt her a fairer hand. Even so, she lived an extraordinary life during extraordinary times.

Mary Lincoln became a widow in 1865 and it took five years of her lobbying Congress before they granted her (by a narrow margin) a life pension---the same as the widows of Civil War soldiers had been getting since 1861 which she felt she deserved, her husband being the “fallen commander”---in her view. I find it mind-boggling that it took so long for Congress to agree. She was preceded in death by her husband and three sons and in widowhood she even spent time in an asylum for her erratic behavior. All this wasn’t brought out in the movie, of course, but if you’re history or political science buff and you go see the movie keep it in mind. Lincoln won’t disappoint you, but then I say that about all of Steven Spielberg’s movies. I don’t think he knows how to make a mediocre film. ©

Interview with James Spader on Lobbying for the 13th Amendment can be found here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Imperfect in Life, Perfect in Death

We widows tend to put our spouses on pedestals. And why not. There’s nothing to be gained by cataloging the things that used to annoy us when our husbands were alive. It would only make us feel petty or ashamed to remember the hissy-fits we had over things like a forgotten anniversary, tracking snow in the house and toothpaste caps that didn’t get put back on. When our husbands were alive, most of us never would have acknowledged there could come a day when we’d give anything to have one of those little annoyances back in our lives. Not us! Widowhood happens to other people. We were going to live happily ever after. We had our heads in the sand.

But it didn’t happen to someone else. It happened to me. I had no special immunity that protected me from the widowhood word. My imperfect spouse died and my memory of our time together on earth became like a watercolor painting that blurs the details and brings the focal point to the foreground to stay frozen in place for all eternity. But I remember the details. I touch them on my watercolor painting like I’m reading Braille. Those quiet conversations in the night, the smiles that could light my soul on fire, the scent of his after shave, and the shoulder I leaned on when times were hard. I remember in a water color hazy way our whole lives together and I mourn what was and what still could have been.

It’s hard to be alone when you’re used to being half of a whole. It’s hard to think of the future when your arms ache from hugging emptiness and you have so many unspoken words bottled up inside. It’s hard to face the long days and nights. And yet there are many times when I feel his presence still around me, telling me I can do this, telling me I will never be truly alone or have thoughts he doesn’t hear. Maybe it’s because I knew my husband so well that I’m imaging I can hear his voice in my ear. Or maybe I’m just turning into a crazy old lady who wants to believe a ghost is living in the house. A ghost who, in my head, is highly amused that I now picture him not old like he was when he died but young and healthy and ready to slay any dragons that cross my path. A crazy old lady and a knight in shinning armor in love. What’s so funny about that? I tell him. It’s my watercolor memory. I’ll paint it anyway I want.

In the quiet of the night, if I’m totally honest with myself, I know I will eventually come to terms with widowhood and moving forward. I can’t dwell forever in the land of dark and ugly grief. Well, I could but what would that prove? Prolonging grief beyond its nature expiration date won’t honor what my husband and I had together. And the love we shared demands that I must honor him. If I were from another time and place I’d have to throw myself on a knife and die to honor him. But my husband would laugh at that antiquated, drama queen idea and tell me to carve out a new life for myself. “Live, love, laugh and be happy,” he’d sing in my ear. Did I ever tell you my husband had a rich, deep voice like a country western legend?

He’d also tell me I have one year---one year from the day he died before he’d come back and start kicking ass if I haven’t taken enough steps toward finding a future of peace and acceptance. Death wouldn’t have changed my perfect, imperfect spouse’s values and that’s how I know that his ghost wants to see joy and happiness back in my life---sooner rather than later. He was my biggest fan, was always proud of me, and that is the focal point in my watercolor painting that will be frozen in place for all eternity. So I will do the mental work it takes to get me through to the other side of grief. The bottom line is we widows should accept no less for ourselves than what our spouses would want for us, if they still had a voice in our futures. ©

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Holiday Blues in Widowhood Land

It had been four days since I’ve talked to another human being so today I decided to go to the gas station and while I was pumping gas I saw my first 18 wheeler full of Christmas trees, going through town on their way to some southern state. It happens every year about this time, of course, but seeing them today sent me instantly to a place of pain. For the past twelve years we had a tradition of counting all the Christmas trees we’d see on the top of cars during November and December. On the weekends after Thanksgiving we’d even grab a coffee at Starbucks and sit at an intersection where there are Christmas tree farms in three directions. It started out to be a speech class exercise, for Don to get out numbers, but it evolved into a wheelchair friendly activity that we could do to get us in the mood for the holidays. Most years we chalked up on our little chart, over 125 trees. Seeing the 18 wheeler today made me realize I need to avoid the “tree farms” corner until after Christmas. I don’t need 125 reminders that Don is gone and I’ll need to build new traditions.

The last day of October I sent an e-mail reservation in for a Christmas luncheon at the senior center next month and I got a message back saying, “Sorry, we’ve filled our quota of 115 reservations already.” I didn’t think going to that party meant all that much to me until I got the rejection. Damn, it’s going to be a lonely season! At least the pet store won’t let me down. I can still put ‘reindeer horns’ on Levi and take him in for their humane society fund raiser and photo shoot with Santa. He will snack up and down the aisle of bulk treats that I’ll end up buying, pick out a new toy for his Christmas present and greet the other dogs all doing the same things.

I was looking at a photo album a week or two ago and found an old black and white of a Christmas tree with presents underneath. It was taken back when I was six or seven years old. At the side of the tree was a child’s table and chairs my parents got at the Salvation Army store, plus a doll with her array of homemade clothing. Can you believe it; I still have all that stuff! I’ve been planning to put a new coat of paint on the table and chairs so I can use the set as a coffee table combo and to frame a few of the doll’s clothing for my dream condo when I downsize next year.

Fast forward to one of the first Christmas’ after Don and I met. His idea of decorating back then was taking a full string of Christmas tree lights and making a ‘crown’ for the deer head hanging on his front porch. This was at a time in my life when I was spending 14 hour days decorating rich people’s houses and clubs for their holiday parties. I guess the point I’m trying to make to myself is this: time marches on and holiday traditions change---sometimes by happy choice, other times out of necessity. Traditions this year will be non-existence in my widowhood world so I’ll need to ‘cowboy up’ to get through the season. Can I do it without spilling a few tears? Heck yes! Whenever I feel those pangs of regret and missing Don coming on I’m going to pretend I’m Daron Norwood and start singing at the top of my lungs: “I can make it on my own. These can't be tears in my eyes 'cause cowboys don't cry. Cowboys don’t cry.” ©

Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home.
Carol Nelson

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Christmas Craft Show Tour in Widowhoodville

I must be a glutton for punishment with no more sense than an amoeba living in a back yard pond. Today I decided to do the annual craft show tour, hop scotching around town to see what the various fairs had to offer to the early Christmas shoppers. It was a tradition Don and I acquitted to support the union retirees at one place and the senior citizens hall at another and it grew from there, adding three more stops on our tour. Don loved the crowds and the homemade baked goods for sale and we’d always ran into people we knew.

As I backed out of the driveway the radio was set on the Prime Country [cry-your-eyes-out] station and as the Chief Glutton for Punishment in the car I didn't switch the channel. When will I ever learn? It wasn't long after that Dolly Parton was singing:

“Why'd you come in here lookin' like that
In your cowboy boots and your painted-on jeans
All decked out like a cowgirl's dream
Why'd you come in here looking like that?”

Damn it! Those words reminded me of Don all dressed up in his favorite attire and that was enough to put his ghost riding shotgun in my passenger seat. By the time I got to my first stop, the senior hall, I wasn’t even sure I could go in. But I did because I’m a super-duper trooper, don’t you know, and who cares if you're misty-eyed at a craft show? Inside, I collected a hug from the center’s director---she cared---and I bought an item from their garage sale room for fifteen cents. It was a wire wreath to hold Christmas cards. I came close to buying one just like it, only new, a few weeks ago but I didn’t like the $25.00 price tag. Okay, that didn’t turn out so bad, I thought. Things were looking up.

The next stop was to the retiree’s hall where I knew quite a few people and several mentioned missing Don. One vendor who had sold Don a handmade item last year that I hated on sight couldn’t say enough nice things about him and that made me feel guilty about giving the piece to Salvation Army a few months ago. Another vendor who is old enough to be my mother talked to me about finding someone else, “It doesn’t have to be the same kind of romance or love,” she said. “It’s just nice to have someone to be with.” “I know,” I replied, “but I’m not ready for that.” Darn those damn tears! They started in again and I had to leave her booth. Whose stupid idea was it for me to go there today? Oh, ya, that would be my own stupid idea.

Back in the car the cry-your-eyes out radio station was blasting out Mickey Gilley singing Stand by Me. I sighed deeply. Instead of bringing tears, though, that song brought a wave of peace over me as I listened. It's always had that effect on my emotions.

“When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me”

For months on end I played that song every night at bedtime and Levi knew that was his clue to do our version of dog-dancing. It served several purposes one being human-to-canine bonding, another being human and canine exercise, but the most important reason---at least now in hindsight---was that our antics never failed to make Don laugh. Gilley’s version isn’t my favorite cut of Stand by Me, but I can honestly say I’ve never heard a version I didn’t like. When the piece ended this afternoon in the car, I looked over at the ghost riding shotgun in my passenger seat and I said, “Let’s go home. The Christmas craft shows suck this year.” ©

Below is a link to my favorite version of Stand by Me. I love how it keeps building as they add street performers from around the world. If you're not award of the 'Playing for Change' project here is what they say on their website: "Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world."   Playing for Change