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 26, 2013

Widowhood: My Second Memorial Day

Grave Yard Picnic
Memorial Day means different things to different people. For most people it’s just the kick off to summer and a long weekend for having family fun or for working on an outdoor project. For some, it’s all about honoring our fallen military men and women. Still others use the weekend to decorate at the cemetery, a tradition dating back to shortly after the Civil War when families would gather to clean up the grave yards at the end of spring. In the realm of useless information cluttering up my brain is the fact that Civil War era families would take a break from their cleaning to spread blankets on the grass and have a potluck lunch among the ghosts of their ancestors which in turn gave birth to the custom of families getting together over the holiday. Then, in more recent times when the government turned it into a three day weekend…well, forget the cemetery---we can swing by after work---and save the three day holiday to party. We all accept that evolution until we’ve had a recent loss, then we wish the whole world to hit the pause button to remember the dead and the families they left behind. .

This year Memorial Day is bringing me a sense of restlessness and mixed emotions. Last year it was all about making sure Don's tombstone was set in place and how disappointed I was with the unseeded ground around the marble. Sand filled up the etched letters and there was no hope for keeping the stone clean with the way the sod was left high on one side. A week ago I stopped by the cemetery and found those issues are no longer a problem. So now what? The cemetery has a lot of restrictions on what you can and can’t put on graves but people break the rules all the time, and then they fight with the sexton when he removes their decorative flags, solar lights and wind chimes that fall over and get tangled up in their mowing machines. When I was checking the place last week I ran into another widow whose husband’s grave is near Don’s and she was trying to rally up support to get the sexton fired. She lives within walking distance, checks on the cemetery often and says she's been raising cane since her husband was buried six years go. I don’t want to be that kind of widow. To me, it’s easier to learn the rules and follow them.

I worked in the floral industry for twenty years and made my fair share of Memorial Day flowers over the years. I had planned to make something for Don’s grave until I broke my elbow and acquired an arm sling. As a Plan B I stopped by a place that sells cemetery flowers but their arrangements weren’t weighed and would blow away with the first strong wind, so I left without buying anything. The evil side of me thinks it would be fun to fill up the etched letters on Don’s tombstone with birdseed so that when the militant widow mentioned above sees birds all over my husband’s grave she’d call the city offices to demand the sexton buy a shot gun. Did I mention she’s also a militant, foaming-at-the-mouth NRA member as well? I know she’d call me in horror if Don’s grave became a Mecca for birds. She called me when the Snoopy I'd glued to the stone disappeared. But I’d act overjoyed about the birds and tell her, “Holy moly, Don’s spirit is communicating with the gods, using the birds to carry his message to the sky!” Okay, I wouldn’t really tell her that but I would put seeds on his Don’s grave just to watch her go off like a rocket on the Fourth of July. Hey, I think I just hatched Plan C.

Aside from what to do about the cemetery what is bothering me the most about this second Memorial Day without Don is how lonely it’s making me feel. I hear the plans that family and friends have for the long weekend and while I’m genuinely happy for them, I’m a bit envious as well. In the past I’d always had plans to look forward to over the holiday. I can't remember ever not having some where to go over Memorial Day, not even as a kid. Poor me, I can’t even satisfactorily pig out on comfort foods because with my broken elbow bone and sprained wrist on my dominate arm it’s a struggle to shovel food in my mouth. To make it worse I’m sitting here watching a doomsday movie---nothing like making a misery pie for your self when you should be closing the kitchen and going for a walk in the sunshine. I mean who wouldn’t feel miserable at the thought the world is coming to an end and I don’t have a survivalist’s cache of supplies hidden in a backyard bunker? I’ll bet the militant widow with the NRA patches on her jacket has a well stocked bunker. Woo is me. I can’t wait until Memorial Day, year two is past history!

But I must say I’m starting to understand why recent widows feel the pull to go to the cemetery on Memorial Day; we don’t have any where else to go and if we’re lucky we’ll get to meet the families of our spouse’s neighbors. Yup, my husband is across the road, four stones in. Where is yours? I brought a peanut butter sandwich. Would you like half? Maybe if I make friends at the cemetery this year next year we could plan a potluck on the grounds like the Civil War widows did. Everything comes full circle if you wait long enough. ©


  1. You provide such a backstory, as if explaining how those widows went from grave visiting to picnicking at the cemetery.

    I am inclined to counsel you to let people know that you're alone on the holiday, except that is the advice that people keep giving me. I don't know why people forget about widows during holidays, but they do. I've watched one holiday after another pass by this past year. Oddly enough, it was Mothers Day that threw me into a tailspin of frustration. I realized that holidays aren't going to happen unless I take some action--have my own party, or make new friends who will invite me to their parties.

    So, yeah, happy friggin' Memorial Day. I approve of your birdseed plan. It's the only thing that makes sense.

  2. Happy friggin' Memorial Day back at you. LOL

    I don't buy into the theory that if you let family and friends know you're alone on the holiday that the invitations will come forth. For many, widows are an uncomfortable reminder that anyone's life can change in a heart beat. I also truly believe it's not the responsibility of our friends and family to fill the hole in our lives---very nice if they try but I don't hold it against anyone who doesn't. I do buy into the theory that widows need to make new friends who are in similar a situation, but it takes so much time to connect on a level where you can pal around on holidays. Hasn't it always been that way, though? Friendships take time to build. It's just that I feel a more desperate need now than any other time in my adult life......and no one is looking for desperate friends. LOL