Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow, senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Jean

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tired Feet and Other Crazy Widowhood Distractions

I spent forty years of my life going to auctions, at roughly six per year that’s over 240 auctions where I’ve stood with a paddle in my hand. And I can honestly say the fund-raiser auction I volunteered at on Saturday for the museum was more fun than any I’ve ever attended. The working part was a flurry of activities and I was dog tired after two days on my feet but I’m getting to know people better, seeing a potential for friendship within the group. But it was the auctioneer who put the cherry on the experience. He had the funniest spiel I’ve ever heard at an auction, and because the auction was in a small town where many of the people knew each other, the jokes and good natured bantering back and forth was priceless. My stomach hurt from laughing.

At the silent auction I won $330 worth of gift certificates for $60.00.That included the cooking lessons that I was lusting over all last week. Oh, my god what have I gotten myself into? The website says the chefs (apparently there are more than one) who teach the classes have classes for whatever level you’re at including for people who can barely boil water, so I should be okay. I think. Now I have to decide if I want to bring someone with me and go only once, or go alone and get two classes. The classes include eating what you cook plus you get a fine wine and dessert with your meal. Their classroom-kitchen is sandwiched in between the best restaurant in town and a wine shop that is known for their tasting parties. Quite a neat concept for a little tourist town to have but right now the classes mostly seem to be about canning, so I’ll have to wait until farmers market season is over to see what they have offer for November and December.

When I look back over all the places I’ve been and things I’ve done in September I can hardly believe I’m looking at my own life. I’ve never been this social and it’s so out of character for my last 40 plus years for me push myself out into the big wide world the way I’ve been doing. I didn’t have to; I had my soul mate at my side. You’re probably thinking, “Boohoo, the widow is bidding for sympathy again!” Fair enough. I’ll keep my boohoo thoughts to myself and just say that I’m over scheduled for October, too, but after that I should be able to edit my choices down of activities that best suit my goals and interests---the senior hall, the Red Hat Society and/or volunteering at the museum. I might just decide to become a hermit and start doing Zentangle on the walls. My adoptive hometown where the museum and Red Hatters are at has an art studio opening up soon where you'll be able to rent easel space for $20.00 for two hours without instruction or $30.00 with it. I’m itching to explore that activity as well but with the weather being what it is in Michigan that might have to wait until spring.

Every spare moment I’ve had this past week I’ve been writing, editing and polishing like a madwoman on a mission and I finished my spoof obituary. Its twenty-five pages long and quite funny if I do say so myself. I was able to weave my factitious covert secret agent career into the real facts of my entire life. For example, the floral shop that I started working at when I was in high school became a money laundering place with ties to an international mafia and that’s when the CIA recruited me. The nights when Don and I were plowing snow at the mall became cover stories for our clandestine meetings where we bonded over changing the balance of power in the world. Even my dogs became part of the plot. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have the spoof obituary printed up in a soft cover book format (with photos added) and give copies to my nieces, nephew and brother for gifts. Why not. I’ve practically written my own for-real obituary at the end that suggests anyone attending my memorial service should bring their sense of humor for the reading of excerpts from my unabridged obituary. My nieces and nephew will have plenty of material in my spoof obituary to write my eulogy. I wrote my dad’s and husband’s eulogy. Someone else can write mine…unless I get bored some night in between now and when it’s needed. Lord, I need another writing project to take me in another direction before people start thinking I’m a self-absorbed widow with a dark obsession about my own mortality! Oops, too late. That cat is already out of the bag. ©

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Past, Present and Future

Part of my master plan for building a new life in my post-Don world involves volunteering at a small museum that is having its grand opening this weekend in the small town where my husband grew up. It’s a tourist town, now, with a lots of neat things going on and I’ve come to love the place as much as he did. This weekend is also the town’s Fall Festival and one of the fun things to do is watch crafters make life-sized scarecrows that are sold for charity. It’s a popular active and you can see people all over town dragging scarecrows to their cars or leaning them up against buildings as they eat and shop at the outdoor venues. Also in town is a jazz band that walks the streets leading people Pied Piper style past various places of interest in much the same way walking jazz bands have been known to lead mourners to burial sites in the Deep South. This year, one of the places the band will lead the tourists is to the museum where I’ll be helping with the opening and the fundraiser auction.

Yesterday I took part in a work session with other museum volunteers. Our mission was to make baskets up of assorted small items and gift certificates that have been donated to our auction committee. It was right up my alley, being an x-floral designer with a degree in art. I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging but it became apparent early on that I had the best eye for arranging stuff so the baskets looked appealing and everything that needed to show was showing. So that became my job. Another woman fell into the best bow maker role, another lady became the best at filling out the documentation needed and so on. Our little assembly line worked well together and we had fun doing it. In three hours’ time we got all the cellophane-clad baskets made and parked in our host’s extra bedrooms. Friday we’ll transport them to the building where our silent, basket auction will run in conjunction with our live auction outside. I can hardly wait. I already know I’m going to bid on some cooking lessons with a five star chef and some spa treatments. Can you believe the chef lessons have a value of a $100 per class and they’re not even private lessons!

The woman who hosted our “basket party” lives directly across the street from the cemetery where Don’s headstone resides so I stopped in for a visit before going home. It’s been twenty months since he died so it took me by surprised at how quickly I got teary-eyed standing there looking at his name carved in marble. I’m moving on---or I should say I’m doing my best to move on and yet I still miss having him in my life. Should leaving one chapter in my life and moving on to the next bring sadness this far out? I don't know. But I do know it would be sad if I kept reading the same page over and over again, never moving on to see what happens next.

This week I also made a run up to my antique booth/locked showcase to reorganize the space. I’m running some “bottom shelf” sales, reducing prices 50% with the goal of maybe moving out at the end of October. This is such a hard decision to make! I rented the space about four months after Don died and between the booth and eBay I’ve sold off most of my husband’s extensive collection of gas station memorabilia---gas pumps, globes, porcelain signs and cans going back to the early 1900s. Now I’m left with his smaller, less valuable collectables---gas station give-aways, maps, etc.---and I’m burned out on researching, pricing and selling. What’s left doesn’t take up much space, still at my age it’s wise to keep downsizing. But sometimes, when I go to the Land of Pricing Hell, it feels like I’m living my life in reverse or metaphorically reading that same page over and over again that I’ve been trying so hard to avoid doing. Oh, well, as my friend Scarlett O’Hara would say, “I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.” With that said, I’m going back to researching and writing my own spoof obituary. Apparently, I really enjoyed my life as a CIA black bag operative. ©

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Writing My Own Obituary

Most of us want to be understood and maybe that’s why blogging is so popular. We put our thoughts out in cyberspace hoping others will connect with that we have to say about the world around us. Some of us bloggers edit and hone our thoughts until they are just right, others shoot from the hip and let the chips fall where they may. I’m in the first camp of editors and honers. And I often wish I could do the same with my words when interacting with the people I come in physical contact with. (Yes, I know I shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition but it’s a writing tic I can’t seem to break.) Not that I say things in public I wish I could take back. It’s quite the opposite. I wish I could bring in the color and detail, expand my thoughts on the fly and maybe change a word here and there to its synonym to make a sentence roll off the tongue smoother. But spoken words are like ringing bells, once the sound is out there you can’t take it back.

I was thinking about this recently when I was at a lecture and sitting next to a woman who had just gone into an assisted living place the week before. She wanted to communicate with me and as she talked I could tell she wasn’t making the points she wanted to make. At first I was annoyed because I came there to hear the speaker, not the life story of an anonymous elderly woman in the audience. Then it hit me that I probably don’t sound much different when I get on a roll vocalizing my disconnected, unedited thoughts. I’ve had conversations with younger people and afterward I’d think: Man, I sounded old!  It bothers me when that happens. It worries me sometimes that I can write more coherently than I can talk. Then other times I’ll remember that it’s always been that way. I’m a writer, not a talker. My husband (before his stroke) was a talker, not a writer. I wrote the letters. He made the phone calls. A match made in heaven. What’s different now is at 70-something I’m always on the lookout for changes that could have others thinking I’m obsolete, that I should be turned out to pasture in a field of old nags who are holding on to their last cud of grass until we’re all found lying on our backs with our stiff limbs pointing skyward. Oh, yes, I understand why an elderly woman, newly installed in an assisted living facility, felt the need to let the world know that her life had value in her “good old days.”

There is a common self-actualization exercise given to people trying to---what---finds themselves, define their life-goals? It involves writing your own obituary. What do you want your life to represent? How would you like to be remembered? Sounds a bit macabre to write but it does give you a long-term perspective of your past and future life. Others writing my obituary would probably say my crowning achievement was how I handled the twelve year aftermath of my husband’s stroke. How many times have I heard “you are so strong” “you’re such a good caregiver” “he’s lucky to have you?” Blah, blah, blah. I’ll tell you how strong/weak I really am. Yesterday when a woman in my presence had a full-blown seizure I wasn’t the one holding her down and saying soothing things in her ear. Nope. I was one of two of us grabbing napkins to hand off to another who was wiping the woman’s mouth. I was moving chairs out of the way for when the EMTs arrived, busy work so I didn't have to think about what was going on. And I was the one---the only one of the 16 present---who reached for the box full of donuts after the woman was on the way to the hospital because I’m a stress eater and my hands were shaking. Strong? Bull crap! Some stroke survivors have frequent seizures. I was lucky that Don only had one like I'd just witnessed and I’ve always been grateful his doctor didn’t put him on an anti-seizure medication based on that one episode because the side-effects, I’m told, can be nasty. But I’m getting side-tracked here.

Back to poor little misunderstood me. Yes, I’m proud of how I took care of my husband but when I’m died and gone I’d rather be remembered for that painting I haven’t created yet. I’d rather be remembered for that book I haven’t written yet and that gives me an idea. I wonder if anyone has ever written a 350 page obituary. Chapter one, opening paragraphs:

Rumor has it that the dearly departed was a slow learner. That may have been true. After all, how many times did she find a pair of crotch-less panties on the living room couch before she put two and two together? “Oh, my god,” you’re saying under your breath, “the world doesn’t need another kinky Fifty Shades of Gray kind of book!” Nothing to worry about here. This isn’t a raunchy novel or a story about a woman who comes home unexpectedly to find her husband having a fling with the neighbor’s wife and she doesn't remember anything after that until she wakes up one morning to find herself serving hard time for a double homicide.  Nope. This is an obituary you’re reading for a woman who was a dog lover and all dog lovers know---well, most of them know---what happens to underwear that is accidentally left where it becomes fodder for our furry friends. Bras become pull toys for puppies. Panties become pacifiers for poodles that are lonely and left to their own devices. 

Few people knew who the real Jean was but an outgoing voicemail message on her cell phone gave a clue: “I can’t take your call at this time because I’m in a meeting down at the Seven-Eleven with a Russian spy.” ©

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Building a Social Life, Enacting the Master Plan

I’m exhausted. Being a social butterfly is not easy and it’s starting to feel like a job. You know the drill. Rush to get ready, drive somewhere in heavy traffic, grabbing a cup of Starbucks along the way.  Get back home with tired feet and an over stimulated brain. In the past few days I’ve been to a Red Hat walk-about, an ice sculpturing demonstration and the opening of a glass sculpture exhibit at one of the top 100 most-visited art museums in the world.

The walk-about was…well, fattening. The indoor/outdoor farmers and specialty foods vendors market where we went had everything from whiskey truffles to fresh fish that cost $45.00 a pound. Round that out with all the fruits and vegetables in season plus enough bake goods, salads and butchered meat to fill a cruise ship and a doubt anyone could leave the place empty-handed. One vendor was selling pie for $9.00 a narrow slice. Who pays that much for pie? 

The self-appointed trail blazer in our group as we made our way around the market was pushing a walker at warp speed and wearing bright purple oriental-style silk pajamas, a huge red hat and enough jewelry to stock a small store. One of her rings was flashing different colored lights and in my mind I nicknamed her Rudolph. She’s nearly a decade older than me and is quite a character. I liked her instantly. She is signed up for a 10 day overseas tour through our senior hall and I’m thinking the thirty-something facilitator will have trouble keeping up with her.

The market was my first experience in nearly a decade of walking about in public all decked out in red and purple. I had forgotten about the people who stop Red Hatters and want to take our pictures. “You ladies look FABULOUS,” one woman said as she pointed her cell phone camera at us. And you couldn’t help noticing how many smiles we put on people’s faces…whether they were laughing with us or at us is mystery I don’t care to solve. But I’m told it’s not unusual for young guys to stop chapter members in full color and ask how they can get their mothers involved. How sweet it would be to have a son like that who acknowledges older women having fun and wants to see his mom doing the same.

Monday, a perfect fall day here in Michigan, I sat under the pavilion behind the senior hall watching a member of the ice carving team from the culinary arts school in town as he carved a howling wolf out of a 400 pound block of ice. I didn't even know culinary schools send ice carving teams to competitions against one another. It amazes me that someone so talented enjoys creating three dimensional art forms that will disappear so quickly. 

Then Tuesday I went to a dessert reception for a new exhibition opening up at the sculpture park where I became a member last spring, my first art opening in more years than I care to count. I knew it would be well attended---people fly in from all over the states for their openings---but I didn’t expect them to fill up a 600 seat auditorium for the artists’ panel discussion. Wow! I’m not a fan of contemporary art but hearing artists from around the world---some talking through interpreters---talk about their work was an exciting experience and many of their pieces were absolutely mind boggling. One of my widowhood goals is to get back into the world of art so I drank in the atmosphere for as long as I could.

All this running around had me dreaming last night of being in an apartment building trying to find Don. Looking for something in a place with lots of doors is a reoccurring dream for me but I don’t always know what I’m looking for. Last night’s variation had me feeling around the tops of door frames for keys to doors that wouldn’t open. Near the end of the dream I actually did find my late husband sitting on a short retainer wall when I came out of one building and was headed towards another. When I sat down beside him he put his arm around me and said, “I’ll always be your friend.” “Ya, great!” I nearly shouted back. I was so mad at him for saying that. What good is a friend I can only see in my dreams? And I wanted to hear him say “I love you” or “I miss you as much as you miss me.” I wanted to hear that finding him was real and his dying was a dream. I woke up with tears on my cheeks and a sense of sadness trying to find a way to mess up my master plan for building a social life in my widowhood world. ©

Note: Glass work above---Cascade---was made by Kait Rhoads. It measures about three foot tall and is amazing to see in person.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Widow on the Move

Honolulu House

The consensus on the mystery trip I took this week through the senior hall was that everyone loves going to unknown destinations. Not me. I worried that I’d be dressed for up north weather and we’d end up in the southern part of the state. I worried I’d miss the return bus and I’d be stranded in a place without public transportation. I worried about lots of things including that I’d die in a fiery bus crash and all my house plants would die along with me because no one back home knew I was missing. Worse yet, I worried without someone to pick Levi up at the kennel he’d get sold off to a research lab where they’d use his long Schnauzer eye lashes to test neon-colored mascara. On other trips I’ve taken through the senior hall I sent texts to my nieces that I was going to so and so “and if you hear about a bus crash over there worry about me and Levi.” What was I supposed to text this time---going somewhere, monitor the all the accident reports in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois? It’s hard for me after 42 years of having Don in my life---who always knew where I was and when I was due home---to feel like no one has my back. 

When I signed in the morning of the trip and got my name tag they handed me a huge shopping bag. Clue one. Great. I hate shopping unless I’m in a grocery store on Mondays. The bus pulled out and headed southeast. Clue two. Great, I was dressed for going north or west, away from the expected rain south and east of town. (Tip to the clueless, Jean. Learn to layer!) Right away I got my state map out looking for more clues as road signs passed by the windows while the others on the bus begged the program director to spill the beans. She didn’t. I suspected the reason why the destinations on mystery trips are kept a secret is because no one would sign up for the trips if we knew where we were going. I was wrong. The last of the towns we went to had me cheering, “Oh, boy, I always wanted to go there!” 

But the first town we landed in was not worth writing about. The second place we stopped at was fabulous---the Southern Exposure Herb Farm.  When we got off the bus we walked a luscious garden path that was strewed with freshly tossed rose petals. It made we feel like a bride following a flower girl and the path led to a charming, restored farm house outbuilding where a fancy schmancy lunch was served. After lunch we had time to wander the curved walkways to discover hidden treasures around every turn. In all there are four restored Victorian era buildings including the main house plus two party tents (one with a dance floor) and they were all elegantly furnished with antiques, quilts and china place settings for the many parties they host. The old wedding floral designer in me wanted to stayed there until the snow flies.  

Our last stop, lovely Marshall Michigan, is known for its 19th and 20th century architecture. It’s a small town of 7,000 people but there are 850 buildings and houses on the National Register of Historical Places. There, we toured the Honolulu House, which was built in 1860 by a guy who was a U.S. Consul to the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii). And after drooling over its ornate, hand-painted walls and ceilings a woman from Marshall’s historical society jumped on our bus and gave us a guided tour of the whole town.

We ended up going to five places in three towns and the shopping bag turned out to be for freebies (aka bribes) we’d get from certain merchants if we stopped in to look around. What a sly marketing trick, says the lady who won’t pee at a gas station unless I buy something to off-set the cost of the toilet paper, hand soap, water and paper towel I used. (It's only fair.) Bah humbug to ‘freebies’ that forced me to shop! But we did get some nice stuff and I only spent thirty-two dollars getting those bribes.

All and all I had a good time but I won’t be signing up for another twelve hour long bus trip. That was a bit too tiring for me---I’ll stick to the shorter, six to eight hour trips. I also won’t be signing up for the winter bus trips because throwing a snow storm or two in front of a bus load of old people doesn’t appeal to me. We could get delayed for hours in a pileup on the expressway and the on-board bathroom would overflow as other stranded travelers knocked on the bus door demanding to poop and pee inside. Like I said I’m a worry-wart. If I’m going to get snowbound, I want it to be at home where the hot chocolate flows like tap water and the dog’s face is safe from cosmetic products testing. ©

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Déjà Vu Week and The Red Hatters

I hadn’t realized it until I was sitting in the audience of a Historical Society lecture that I’d probably heard this speaker before. He was talking about The Edmund Fitzgerald, a freighter that was caught in a storm on Lake Superior back in 1975. Or was it the Lady Elgin’s sinking that I heard about as part at a Life Enrichment lecture series at the senior hall a few years ago? It doesn’t matter. If you’ve heard the details about one ship wreck you’ve heard them all. “It was a dark, stormy night. The ship sank and people died.” My husband loved the lecture at the senior hall and, of course, he had to buy the book. If I wasn’t so lazy I could walk into our library to confirm whether or not this week’s lecture was a repeat. But I didn’t go to this Historical Society lecture because I have a burning fascination for ship wrecks, so what does it matter? I went for bonding time with the people from the new museum where I’ve volunteered recently.

The Red Hat Society meeting this week---my first after a 10 year break---was another déjà vu day. I vaguely remembered 5-6 of the 15 ladies in attendance from when I was a member in the past but it made me sad to think that they’ve had all those years to bond and get to know each other as good friends. I wondered if clicks within the group had formed. Is there a pecking order I’ll need to learn? The dynamics of any group takes some time to figure out. But it was exciting to put on my Red Hat “uniform” and stroll into this meeting. Would I like my new playmates? Will I fit in? Time will tell and in the meantime the ladies welcomed me warmly as one of the founding members of the chapter and the time was filled with many laugh lines. This week's tea was a work/planning meeting and the next “walk-about” takes place next Saturday. We’re going to the new, year-around marketplace for farmers and specialty food vendors in the heart of downtown. I’m excited about going in a group. I would never venture down there alone.

There’s something I had forgotten about this chapter. Back when I was still a member we had adopted a nursing home for staging a service project and the chapter still goes there to make the ladies honorary Red Hatters by entertaining them, load them up on trinkets and stuffing them full of treats. Oh, man! I want to feel young again so I’m not so sure I really want this visual of my future starring me in the face on a regular basis. But then again, maybe going to the nursing home will keep reminding me that I’ve got no time to waste in my septuagenarian years. Not that I need reminding. I’m obsessed with that line of thinking.

I’d also forgotten about the titles. Each member of the chapter has to give ourselves a royal title and I’ll need to know mine by the next meeting. ‘The Court Jester’ and ‘The Countess of Logical Thought’ are already taken. Too bad. I would have liked something like either one. All self-pronounced titles should come with an implied reference to your character, your actions or whatever obscure thoughts you have about yourself.  I’m thinking about calling myself ‘The Mistress of Misadventures’ or ‘The Duchess of Dizzy Thoughts’---both homages to this blog. I could see me being ‘The Countess of Coloring Crayons’ as a reference to my love of art or I could call myself ‘The Baroness of Disappearing Brain Mass’. Cast your vote. Which title would you pick for me?

My third social event this week was this morning, an outdoor art show that was always a favorite event for Don and me to attend. I skipped going last year because I didn’t want to go alone. I thought about asking the woman I exchanged contact information with on the last senior bus trip. She liked art and was looking for someone to pal around with but do you think I could find that phone number! Heck no and I looked everywhere except up the dog’s butt! (I don’t usual lose stuff which is why the disappearing brain mass title might be good!)  Anyway, I screwed on my brave recovering widow’s hat, put on my walking shoes and headed to the art show alone. Many of the artists were ones I’ve met in the past. Some were even selling the same prints I’d seen before, talk about déjà vu! But I wasn’t looking for inside art this time. I was on a mission to find an outdoor sculpture for my little memorial-to-Don corner of the yard. I didn’t find anything but I was surprised to see so many things called “up-cycling.” One piece that caught my eye was a red purse made out of very old Webster’s Dictionary and there were several people making jewelry out of things like sewing machine bobbins, zipper tabs and bits of cut up rulers. I went home empty handed but still lusting after that pricy red purse.

These were the highlights of my week at the School of Back to Life, which is how I’m viewing my busy September/October schedule. I’m sure as the fall progresses I’ll get a clearer view of where I fit in the best---the senior hall, the Red Hat Society or the Historical Society/museum. Call it the old college try. I’ll apply myself in all my “classes” and see how far I get…or maybe I’ll fail this semester and start sucking my thumb by Christmas.

Next week I’m going on a mystery trip with the senior hall crowd. I hope the destination turns out to be some place I’ve never been before. Back-to-back déjà vu weeks would be too creepy at my age, like the universe has pushed the rewind button on my life.  ©

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Widow's Dance

Nearly twenty months out from my husband’s passing and there are still “death details” to iron out. The latest one involves getting the deed on the house transferred from my husband’s and my name to just mine. Should be simple, right? There's no mortgage and a quick claim deed filed with a death certificate should take care of the matter. Or so I was told. But the county clerk sent the papers back to me with a note saying that I must provide proof that we were married at the time he died. How do you prove something like that and why isn’t it enough that the death certificate lists me as Don’s wife? You get documents to prove birth, death, marriage and divorce but no one issues you a yup-you’re-still-married certificate. To make it more frustrating, the quick claim form came back on Saturday so I have the whole, long holiday weekend to mull over this “hiccup” before I can make some calls to find out how exactly I’m suppose to prove what they want me to prove. It’s the widow’s dance: two-three steps forward, one step back.

Then there is the mail addressed to Don that never seems to end. Some days he gets more than I do. Yes, I know I could go down to the post office, file out a form and they’ll return all of his mail to the senders. But every so often something important comes along with all his junk mail and even though I think I’ve gotten the important stuff---the bills, credit cards and banking---all changed over to my name what if I don’t? I’d also hate it if Don won the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes and the post office sent his over-sized check back. His junk mail gives me a good memory once in a while, too, like recently when a car dealership sent a key in the mail inviting him to try the key out on a car they’re giving away and if doesn’t fit at least he’d get a brand new dollar coin for coming down. Of course, we’d have to go to the dealership when he got one of those keys in the past but I honestly think he would have been disappointed if he’d won the car instead of the coin. What can I say, it was cheap entertainment to indulge Don’s dealership key plan for adding to his coin collection.

If it wasn’t for long holiday weekends I’d say I’m doing well managing my post-Don life. I got through the first year---the mourning year---and I’m closing in on the end of the second year---the rebuilding my life year. This widow is on track to finding and opening the next chapter in my life, whatever that turns out to be. I’m still exploring. But in the still of the night when I can’t fall asleep I am still making peace with the fact that although I will have meaningful activities in my life again I will never have another relationship as rich as ours was. I’m old and it takes more years than I have left to build that depth of trust, respect, friendship and love. Not that that fact should keep me from getting out in the world. The hermit life style might be easier, less scary than putting myself out there in the world but hermits start smelling funky after awhile. That’s not for me; I wholeheartedly want to continue supporting the soap and lotions companies.

Long holiday weekends suck. Have I mentioned that yet? Family parties and gatherings: gone and are never coming back. Mini vacations along Lake Michigan with Don: gone and are never coming back. Fun work projects around the house: bingo! Work projects can still happen with a plan. I’ve been lusting after a bottle tree. Maybe next forth of July or Labor Day I could build one. Maybe I could even venture to a spa like I’ve always wanted to do. Maybe I could paint a room or alphabetize the books in the library. Maybe I could volunteer to work at the museum or at the union's labor day parade. It doesn’t matter what I do so long as I don’t do what I’ve done this year and last....just sit around remembering holidays past. A proactive strategy for future long holidays could, would and will be a good goal for year three. Take a note, Watson, the widow has just figured out how to keep dancing forward.  ©