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, May 10, 2013


It’s three o’clock in the morning and I can’t get back to sleep. A dream woke me up, a dream where Don was telling me he was leaving. He said he didn’t want to go and couldn’t figure out why he felt that he had to do it. He didn’t know when it would happen, he said, but soon. “Fine, then go!” I told him. “Do it right now!” I wasn’t going to beg although I wanted to do just that. We were standing in the basement of my old house. We had just started painting the walls and I was feeling overwhelmed with the idea that I had to do that huge job all by myself. I wanted my life partner back but he had already left me in spirit, I thought, so what was the point of him staying around physically? I woke up trying to figure out what my dream meant. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the setting of the dream was inspired by my recent basement flooding and my feelings of being overwhelmed by all the work that came with it. And now I’m worrying that Don’s spirit (which I’ve always felt close by me since he died) is fading and will one day just be a distant memory. 
I read something in another widow’s blog that describes exactly how I feel about widowhood, 16 months out from Don’s passing and having just gone through my first crisis---the flood---without him. She said she was on the peripheral of many people’s lives but the center of no one’s. I can’t get that sentence out of my head. No one has my back, no one is at the center of my life or me the center of theirs. People care and show concern but it's not the same as having a life partner. I have known this from the funeral, of course, but that fact slaps you in the head whenever there is something good or bad going on in your life you want to share.

I was at the senior hall yesterday for a lecture given by a couple who in retirement spent seven years sailing around the world, living on their sailboat while at ports in places like Italy, Spain, Casablanca, the Canary Islands even some countries in the Middle East. What interesting and brave people they were. In my early twenties I owned a little sailboat and the lecture/slide show reminded me of some of the dreams I had in the days before Don---the non-swimmer---entered my life. The first week of their voyage the woman broke her arm in the middle of the ocean and had to wait to get it set. I would have turned around right there and then. But she didn’t let anything, much less her pain, get in the way of living out her dream. By contrast I just live to armchair dream. As they say no guts, no glory.

While at the lecture a wood carver was in the back of room with some of his creations. He was trying to drum up interest in a class he wanted to teach and it took me about two seconds to add my name to the list of interested people. He’s going to call us all to work out a day and time that suits the majority of students. So while other retired people are out seeking adventure around the world I’ll be sitting in a rocker whittling a block of wood into shavings. Oops. Back in the 80s I took a wood carving class and I still have an unfinished turtle to prove it. In college I once spent an entire semester carving a piece of marble into a woman’s torso---it started out as a rejected tombstone with a misspelled name and I got an 'A' that semester. Having seen Michelangelo’s Pieta when it was brought to The States for the 1964-65 New York’s World’s Fair, I wanted to be just like him. In my naivety I didn’t realize how huge I was dreaming. Now, I’ll settle for finishing my turtle before I die. My dreams are getting more doable with age.

Tomorrow I’m going back to the senior hall for a Victorian Tea. It will feature a speaker from the public museum who will come dressed in a Victorian nightgown and over her hour and a half presentation she’ll dress in traditional period garb layer by layer explaining each garment’s purpose and history as she puts it on. For more than a few decades of my life I was enamored by all things Victorian so I expect to have a good time. But I’ll be haunted by a summer when Don and I looked at every run down, fixer upper Victorian house for sale in two counties. We dreamed of restoring one back to its original glory. And now? I dream of finding something suitable in my closet to wear to a formal Victorian tea. 

There are all kinds of dreams in our lives---big ones and small ones, old and brand new dreams plus broken dreams due to the death of someone important to us. Then there are dreams realized like the couple did who sailed around the world, and youthful dreams gladly discarded to make room for love like I did with Don and my sailboat. Our daytime dreams are unlimited but the ones that are the hardest dreams to make my peace with are the ones that come in the night and keep me from falling back to sleep. Like the dream I had tonight that forces me to acknowledge what my heart doesn't want to admit is happening: Don has been gone physically a long time now and I'm feeling his spirit around me less and less often. And that takes my sadness to a whole new level.© 

 above: painting by Betty Pieper


  1. That other widow put it well, being on the periphery instead of the center of people's lives. And volunteering, for me, doesn't fill my need for relevance. That's one reason I started writing my blog, but, silly me, it hasn't panned out this way.

    I can't understand my journey of loss in anything other than spiritual terms. Kahil Kabran gives me a lot of hope. "The more sorrow carves into our being, the more joy you can contain." Well, if the days of giddy joy left along with that fellow in our dreams, I can still invite in tempered joy. It may take the shape of 'who knows who' and 'who knows what'.

    Maybe there's a lifetime of adventure awaiting you beyond that whittled turtle.

  2. Thanks for sharing that! I hope what Kakil says is true. But right now I don't even know if I could finish my turtle, having just taken a bad fall and am waiting for a ride to get my arm x-rayed. Typing one handed isn't fun!

  3. Maybe it's just the sad space I'm in, but I'm wary of dreams--those in the future or in the past, fulfilled or not. Whittling wood sounds, to me, like a wise pursuit.

    ...but what's this? You had a fall? How are you????

  4. No broken bones, but I came out of emergency with a wrist brace and I'm still in a lot pain today. They said it could take 2 - 6 weeks for all the tendons, muscles and nerves to get back to normal. I'm left-handed and that's the arm I hurt...having trouble eating righted-handed which could be the silver lining in this. :)

  5. The med center called me back and said I did fracture a bone up near my elbow so now I have a long splint and a sling. Oh, goodie, I get to live on pizza delivery.

  6. Come on, Jean. Aren't you taking the name of your blog too seriously?!? I hope you're not in pain. I mean, THAT kind of pain.

  7. Isn't that the truth! Almost as bad as fracturing my arm was I broke my glasses and am using an old pair. I'm going to miss cooking class this week, too.

  8. Jean :

    hope you heal & feel better soon. hey now you got excuse for not cooking, BTW having lived single handedly for last 9+ years I can tell you for sure you don't need 2 hands for cooking. so no pizza delivery start cooking lol


  9. This is a setback, but I've no doubt you will handle it with aplomb, whether you indulge in pizza or fit into your old jeans. Keep us posted, and take care. (I feel so dumb, saying that.)

    I wish I were nearby, to run a casserole over.

  10. Thank you both. I tried to cube and bake a beet last night and the kitchen looked like I murdered someone. Seeing a doctor tomorrow and hoping for a shorter cast.

  11. Good grief; this seems to be your month for serious misadventures! I hope it's not true that these things come in 3s -- a flooded basement and a broken arm are more than enough.

    I was telling a colleague's wife yesterday that living alone is all about figuring out how one person can do all those jobs that are supposed to require two people -- but with only one functioning arm?? Yikes! Hope this heals quickly. -Jean

  12. I already had my 3...my old beloved desktop computer died. :(