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

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. ©


  1. I took the Historic Home Tour in Marshall--25 years ago--when I wasn't a hermit. It was real nice. I had to laugh a bit about getting into a snow storm--over there on the sunset side of the State, you do get quite a bit. I once went to Grand Haven on a nice, sunny April day and by 2:00 in the afternoon was stranded and had to get a motel and find a place where I could find a man's XL T-shirt to buy to sleep in. Drove out of town the next morning--15 miles and the snow was no where to be seen and it was a sunny spring day all the way home. YIKES!!

  2. I love Marshall! I always wanted to live in a Victorian house and they are so common there.

    Grand Haven gets a lot of lake effect snow and that kind can't be predicted. I got trapped in an April snow storm, too. Wonder if it was the same year.

  3. Oh Jean, I love your line of thinking. Probably because it is similar to mine!

    No one has my back here anymore either. So I leave a note for the local CSI on my kitchen island with the specifics. Better they know later than not at all!!! Another reason for me not to get a pet.

    My friends and family will probably think I'm weird, but I really miss our scenic drives and it's just not the same without someone saying "pull over here, let's look at that" or "let's stop for pie and coffee when we see a place." I'm actually thinking about signing up for a Maui tourist bus tour!!!

    But definitely NOT a 12 hour one!

  4. I do the same thing, leaving clean notes on my day planner so CSI could reconstruct my day if needed. LOL And my dog has a self-feeder that lasts 7 days so he'd have a chance, if I was in an accident and had to be on his own a day or two.

    No, it's not the same thing to take a scenic drive without someone to share it with, but it's better than nothing. Even now, at 22 months out I still miss having someone to share what I saw or did when I'm not at home. I suspect that will always be true judging by the widows I've met. On this last trip there were 3 buses of 50 and only two guys in the whole group. That's a lot of mostly widows longing to still take day trips.

    The Maui bus tour might be really fun for you but start out with something short to see how you like the concept! My favorite here has been five hours or less because I can leave the dog home that long without any trouble. I would not give him up to travel week long trips. He's my son. LOL

  5. P.S. all three buses stop at the same places but not at the same time so the stores and eating places don't get overwhelmed. We see each other from time to time in passing and play games in competition between buses by cell phones. They are really well organized.

  6. The director of our senior center is one I wish we could clone and spread all over the nation. She's got great ideas and put her heart into the job.

  7. I'm glad you got to go to a place you've always wanted to visit. I don't think I could ever sign up for a mystery trip. I'm not much of a worry wart, but I am a control freak. Not knowing where I was going would drive me crazy!
    When I was first divorced (in my thirties) and doing things by myself for the first time, I used to worry a lot about getting hurt and not being missed. For a while, another single friend and I had a pact that if either of us went out cross-country skiing alone in winter, we'd let the other person know where we were going and when we expected to be back and then call in when we got home. Neither of us ever had to send out a search party for the other, and after a few years I stopped worrying that I'd fall and break my leg while skiing alone and the arrangement quietly petered out.
    I think one way that being single is different from being married is that, when you're married, you rely on the same person to play all of these roles (travel companion, person who'll know to worry if you don't get home, general life back-stop), while those who are single often segment them and rely on different people for different things. -Jean

  8. I'm kind of a control freak, too, and signing up for the mystery trip was an exercise of letting go for me. (Do what scares you the most kind of thing.) And it did drive me crazy not knowing where we were going. LOL

    That's interesting about single people often segmenting their back-stops to different people. I see that in some of the single/widowed women I've been meeting lately.

  9. Sounds like a really great trip. I would love the long bus trip. When we traveled, Steve would drive and I would sightsee and crochet. Now I have to drive all the time (and the state police frown on me crocheting and driving). I'm in Alaska now on a trip that includes bus and train rides - I'll just imagine that my husband is by my side.

  10. Good for you! I wouldn't mind the longer trips so much if I knew who my seatmate was going to be. I've had good luck two out of three times but that three time...let's just say I will avoid setting next to her again.

    We always wanted to go to Alaska. I'm glad you are enjoying the trip. Maybe some day I'll get that brave.