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

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Grocery Stores and Chance Encounters

It was a beautiful, bright winter day and for the first time in almost week the streets were passable after a fierce storm that dumped nearly twelve inches of snow. I love grocery shopping after storms like this. You could hardly move through the congested aisles today but people were glad to be out and about so they accepted it with good grace and even a few laughs. No one gave me “that stare”---you know the one that says: what are you doing shopping on the weekend, old woman? You’ve got all week while I’m at work to get through these aisles. We were all there at the same time for the same reason. And like the snack aisle was the morning of super bowl, it had a celebratory feel. We had conquered a major snowstorm, shoveled our way out of confinement and now the sun was shining! Hallelujah!

But there were a few times in the store when I wished I’d had my old Camp Fire Girls whistle with me---once to direct the traffic jam in front of the milk cases. Another time to break up a fight in the vegetable department where a well dressed, aggressive woman and her husband couldn’t agree on whether to buy a bunch of carrots or a bag of baby carrots. She was being a bully about it and he was whiny but holding firm. I wanted to hand him a few bucks and tell him to buy his baby carrots. What’s the big deal? Don and I didn’t like the same brand of tooth paste so we had two tubes in the bathroom. If carrot man died in his sleep tonight you can bet his wife would wish she hadn’t been so priggish about the damn carrots. That fight in the grocery aisle would replay in her head for months. If you’re going to fight---especially in public---make it something worth fighting about like how to achieve world peace or which end of eatable panties do you start on…the top or the bottom?

They had a new display of hummingbird feeders at the store and fresh cut tulips in the plant department. Someone thinks spring is on the way. But the one thing I wish they had at the grocery store is an observation deck. I would sit up there with a tiny voice recorder and make notation on all the things I’d like to write about later on. I swear I could craft a passable novel if I could live inside the store like Novalee did in Billie Letts’ book, Where The Heart Is. I’ve often wished I had a microphone in my watch so I could talk to my wrist and describe fellow grocery shoppers. If I was young I could do that and people would assume I’m an undercover agent following someone around. At my age they’d just think I’m delusional and my distracted caregiver is near-by.

On the way home I stopped at Subway and the young clerk reminded me so much of Don. The kid was outgoing and friendly and the sort of person who treats people of all ages exactly the same. No patronizing tone or boredom in his voice because he had to wait on an old woman. I was his customer and he was focused on me and not the cute, young girls in line behind me. I had trouble saying I wanted a six inch sandwich on eight-grain honey oat bread and it came out something like I wanted half of eight grains of honey. “That didn’t come out right,” I told him. We both busted out laughing and then he said, “How about I just cut six inches off a 12 inch loaf of eight-grain honey oat bread?” Our senses of humors were simpatico and that doesn’t happen often with me. All the way down the line we were joking back and forth about silly things. But the big take-away from the chance encounter with “Don’s younger self” is it didn’t make me sad. It didn’t take me down. The widow lady didn’t cry on the way home. Life is good even if I did just spend last week living inside of a snow globe. ©


  1. I've come around to believing kindness is the greatest virtue. Hard to achieve if a bully's trying to get us to buy her bunch of carrots. Then, a little kind comeuppance? I'm not sure that lady would feel the slightest bit of remorse should her hubby die in his sleep.

    I may be wierd, or just extra lonely, but kindness often triggers tears in me. It's like someone has added eough love to my heart that it overflows.

  2. About two months after Don died I went to my favorite grocery store---I'd been avoiding it until that day---and on my way out one of the greeters asked me if I was okay...I'd been trying not to cry after having to tell the cashier why Don wasn't with me. Her kindness was enough to turn on the tears so strongly that I could barely talk. So she kept talking to me until I got my act together and she felt I was safe to drive. So I agree with you about kindness being a great virtue. We all have opportunities to help others. The kind ones act on those opportunities.

  3. That Subway clerk sounds so charming. I laughed along with the two of you. How nice that you encountered some of Don's humor out here in the world.

  4. It really was nice and the chance encounter made my day.