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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Way We Were and Other Widow Worries

jigsaw puzzle

I’ve always loved the 1973 movie, The Way We Were, with Robert Redford playing Hubbell and Barbara Streisand playing Katie. If you haven’t seen it you must be living under a rock. It’s a classic and comedian Gilda Radner once summed up the plot like this: "It's about a Jewish woman with a big nose and her blonde boyfriend, who move to Hollywood, and it's during the blacklist and it puts a strain on their relationship." That’s all true as far as it goes but it’s the strong contrast between the Katie and Hubbell’s personalities that makes the movie memorable---at least for me. She was a vocal woman with strong anti-war opinions, a political activist who took life and current events super seriously. Hubbell was a carefree guy with no particular leanings in the political arena. I can’t remember if it was Katie or Hubbell himself who described him as a guy who had everything in life came easy for him, but it fit. His good looks and athletic ability took him places without much effort. Of course, their love affair and short marriage was ill-fated and the movie ended with what has been described as the “most romantic love scene of all times.” I wouldn’t say that---ever---but I guess the idea of a chance meeting with an old flame who looks at you like the ‘good one’ that got away has a lot of appeal to some women.

I like the movie because I always thought Don and Hubbell had some qualities in common. Some things in life came easy for Don---he was a good looking people-magnet with a silver tongue for story telling---and I thought of myself as a Katie type who got too intense sometimes. Before I met Don I had lost a couple of boyfriends because I had aspirations that didn’t include staying home and keeping a supply of a clean socks and hot meals available 24/7 for her man. And maybe it was the gods of twisted humor that, in the end, turned me into a married woman who spent the last 12 years of Don’s life staying at home and keeping a supply of clean socks and hot meals available and turned him into someone who had to struggle just to get one word ‘sentences’ out of his aphasiac brain.

One of the advantages of growing old is you actually get to see the ending of things like an x-boyfriend who eventually came out of the closet long after our relationship ended. When I think about the pain of that break up compared to the pain it would have caused if I had married the guy and found out 20 years later that he’d been hiding a secret all that time---well, I dodged a huge bullet didn’t I. Another guy I could have married turned his wife into a sports widow on the weekends and short-order cook for his buddies and I would have hated that life-style. Nope, I don’t have any regrets about the ones that got away. If I saw either of those guys today I wouldn’t look at them longingly like Hubbell did with Katie and wish I had chosen a different path. I doubt they would look at me that way either. If given enough time, life works out the way it should or at least in a way that finally makes sense.

Now that I’m wearing my widow’s garb I’ve entered a new phase of life. I’m too old to make mistakes and miss-steps because I don’t have enough time left on earth to make corrections. Maybe that’s why I’m having a hard time, right now, keeping a long range plan in sight so I can keep the daily stuff moving in that direction. Too often I find myself drifting without accomplishing more than getting dressed by noon and day-dreaming and plotting my course. The future seems like a giant jigsaw puzzle and I’m still working on finding the edge pieces. 

Have I ever confessed that I like putting jigsaw puzzles together, the harder the better? I've never liked telling people that because it sounds like something only old people do, but I've loved them since I was a kid and work 3-4 puzzles a year. I have a puzzle with pictures on both the front and the back of the pieces, a round puzzle and puzzles with geometric patterns. I have other puzzles with repetitive images that are really difficult. (Visualize hundreds of yellow pencils lined up side by side---that’s the picture on my favorite puzzle.) I could do one of these difficult puzzles in two days. Don would roll by in his wheelchair from time to time and look at me with admiration. He was impressed. I haven’t done one since he died. If widowhood has taught me anything about myself it’s that his admiration was a prime motivator in my life. I always thought I was my own motivator and I truly was before we met all those years ago but somehow I must have transferred that chore to him; I fed off his admiration, breathed it in like air and I miss that. Now I’m struggling to motive my own self again. This was the way we were. Now I am writing the sequel: the way I am. ©

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