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, May 5, 2013

One Week in the Life of a Water Logged Widow

SUNDAY: I couldn’t have gotten through last Sunday (or the rest of the week) without my handy Crocs rubbers. My basement was covered with three inches of water----every square in of it---and that’s how I know that Mother Nature has a sense of humor. She decided if I was going to bellyache about feeling guilty over my good fortunes in life (see my April 24th post) then she’d give me something to cry about. The sump pump that I often wondered what it did in the basement besides scare the bejesus out of me out failed while trying to keep up with the 100 year flood and record rain falls in my township. The guys who came today to pump the basement out couldn’t keep up with the water coming in from the broken sump pump so they packed up their hoses and left me standing in the water saying they’d be back at 8:00 AM Tuesday, assuming I could arrange for a plumber to install a new sump pump by then.

MONDAY: I woke up at the crack of dawn, so I could get a hold of the plumbing service where I left an S.O.S. late yesterday. Their White-Knight-to-the-Rescue showed up at 2:00 PM and left an hour later after handing me a bill for $275. The rest of the afternoon I spent behind a push broom, creating a series of mini wakes in an attempt to help the water find the new sump pump.

TUESDAY: I was back in the Crocs rubbers this morning so I could alternate between watching the water extraction guys work in the basement and worrying that it wasn’t going as fast as I wished. After four hours of sucking up the standing water, they placed industrial fans and a refrigerator-sized heater/dehumidifier in the basement and together they sound like I have a couple of jet airplanes warming up down there. (I don't even want to think about what this will do to my electric bill.) Then the crew made a series of appointments with me before leaving, for them to move their equipment around each day. I guess you could say they’re my new best friends. After they left, an old friend who owes a clean up service came over to help me get the worst of the wet and ruined stuff out of the basement.

WEDNESDAY: It was back in my Crocs rubbers to work in the basement where the Mold Prevention Patrol showed up to do a treatment. So far this little flood zone has cost me roughly $3,500 and the bills aren't all in yet. The landscape guy was here today, too. He added a 50 foot temporary drain extension at the end of my sump pump pipe to drain the water farther away from the house and my soggy yard. Now, my house can correctly be described as the one with a river running towards the storm drain. When I wasn’t downstairs I was hauling stuff to the deck in an attempt to dry it out in the sun.

THURSDAY: The ‘fans and giant dryer’ guys came back in the morning to move their equipment round down in the basement. This afternoon I was able to breath easier and go on a tour I’d signed up for weeks ago through the senior center. It was to the 911 dispatch center that handles all the 911 calls for 4-5 counties. It was an interesting tour but it brought some unexpected bad memories to the surface of times when I had to call 911 for Don. At one point those old “flee” or “cry in place” widow feelings washed over me, but I toughed it out and did neither one.

FRIDAY: When I wasn’t working in the basement I was thinking about the damage down there. My basement wasn’t a finished basement so my flooding could have been far worse. There are people in town who still can't live in their houses due to water damage---several weeks after the river crested---and other people in high rises who just this week were given permission to take their insurance adjusters in to see their water logged cars that were in the underground parking area. Due to electrical issues those people living in high rises still can't move back home again either. The most important things I lost---at least to me---was an old leather suitcase full of Valentines from the 1800s and my artwork dating back to my college years and after---four decades worth of folders full of drawings, etchings, lithographs and painted canvases. I’m telling myself that losing the artwork can be a blessing in disguise, a gift from Mother Nature. When I get around to taking up art again---which is on my Bucket List---I won’t have to compete with the talent of my youth. I can start fresh with no expectations or mourning over skills I might have lost in recent years.

SATURDAY: I got a break from the flood zone and went to an outdoors wedding in the country.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was so happy the couple didn't get the 40% chance of rain that was in the forecast. The reception was inside a near-by barn and it was a fun way to end an exhausting week. As often as I saw the water extraction crew this week, though, I should have asked the crew leader to be my date for the wedding. (He really liked the 'art studio' I set up in the basement and if there hadn't been a forty year age gap between us, I would have called it flirting.) Oh, well, I’ll see him and his crew on Monday, I hope for the very last time because that will mean the "jet planes" are no longer needed in the basement.  I want to get my basement put back together again and to put all this behind me over the next week or two!! ©


  1. What an ordeal! Will home insurance not cover this? I'm most concerned about long-term damage, so I'm glad to hear the mold guys came through.

    Sorry about the things you lost. But good for you for seeing it as an opportunity. You're right that it's best not to compete against the artist you were 40 years ago. Golly, who knows what you'll produce now?

    I'm glad you got out to the wedding, to absorb some happy vibes and be in the sunshine.

  2. Thanks for the comment! My home owners insurance had a rider on it for sump pump failure, which this was, but it only covers up to $2,500. I have a $1,000 deductible so I'm only getting $1,500 towards the clean up. Replacing the sump pump itself is considered 'home maintenance' and that cost isn't counted towards the claim. I've never had a drop of water in the basement in all 12 years that I've lived here. I don't live in a flood zone---I'm 3(?) miles from the river. I'm told the record setting rain falls we had in April has over-taxed sump pumps all over town. The new one hasn't stopped since it was put in six days ago. I'm worried that one will burn out, too.

  3. Good Lord. There's one word that pops out to me and I'm not finding it anywhere in you text. E-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-o-n. I wish I could run over and help.

    Early widowhood introduced me to sump pump failure and a flooded basement, too. That we survive to reimagine and renovate means widowhood's boot camp is behind us.


    IMHO, Your artistry has already begun, and every choice now bears your unique imprint. I'm so happy you're sharing it with us, because it's inspiring.

  4. Oh, my. gosh! Maybe sump pump failure is a rite of passage for widows? I've never experienced anything like this before in my life and I hope I never do again. I'm glad to have your example of survival to cheer me on to the finish line.

    As for my art: The crew leader working on my basement tried to commission me to paint a portrait of his son. I tried to explain that I'm not sure if the old version of me has the same talent as my younger version, but I don't think he understood. They say that old people see colors differently and I know my hands can't do the same detail work they used to do. In the past any time I've been away from art for a few years it would take a few months of practice to get skills back. I hope that happens again even though this 'break from art' has been the longest one ever.