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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Panda Bears, the Widow and her Aphasia Book

Since the birth of the twin panda babies at the Atlanta Zoo in July I’ve been a daily fan of the panda cam. I’ve watched them grow from 4 ounces, 4.5 inches long to eleven and half pound butter balls. Until this past week they’ve divided their time between an incubator and their mother as the zoo keepers swap them out every few hours and sublimate their diet with a bottled milk. The mother panda has never had them both at one time until this week. She's been such an affectionate mother with her cubs. She carries them around in her mouth like cats do their kittens and you’d swear she’s smiling when they nurse. She cuddles with them even when they aren’t nursing, she bathes them and  the babies often look like they're sucking their paws/thumbs. It’s been such a sweet and angelic story to follow from the hairless and ugly little creatures they were at birth to the beautiful, fur-balls they are now. Now that they are spending more time together they attempt to play even though their walking is wobbly and they’re not in control of where they’re trying to go. The twins are too cut for words.

I had just gotten into making teddy bears before my husband’s stroke. I still have a stash of exotic fake furs and bear joints in the basement because I never gave up the dream of making artisan bears with personalities. And I have a collection of teeny, handmade and signed bears that measure under three inches tall. I love the micro-mini bears the best. The smallest I’ve ever achieved is five inches tall and he looks like a bulky ox next to my treasured, tiny favorites. The panda twins have gotten me thinking about making bears again. I wish I could find a good panda pattern. It’s been so long since I’ve tried alternating patterns that I’m not sure I can do it anymore. The only panda bear pattern I’ve found they want $17.50 for a downloaded pattern and the reviews say there are no instructions or how-to photos to go with it. I can’t believe that! I used to be able to exchange them free with other bear makers or buy them for next to nothing. So far, I’m not willing to pay $17.50 for a piece of paper to come out of my printer. But I may weaken and buy myself a Christmas present.

Being a widow and no longer being a caregiver to a severely disabled husband sure freed up a lot of time in my life. This point has really been brought home to me as I work on the book I’m writing for the National Novel Writers Month. As I read over the seven years’ worth of journal entries I made as a caregiver/spouse I can’t believe the range of emotions I recorded. So many things I wrote about I’d forgotten about doing. Studying those journals has made me laugh and cry and both be ashamed and proud of myself for how I handled life during those difficult years. I believe in this book because I believe that I can help others by sharing the raw emotions of what a couple goes through as they search for acceptance and a new normal after such a life-altering medical crisis. I will get the rough draft done on the book by the end of the contest, I just hope I don’t lose my mojo for getting the draft turned into a “final product.”  And maybe that’s why it’s a good thing that the panda bear pattern I lust after costs so much---if I don't buy it, it can't distract me from my do-good book project.  

But the worry-wart in me keeps wondering if I'll ever be able to do everything I've put off doing while I was busy living a different existence---paint again, make bears again, keep writing and be totally happy again. Now that I have the time but not the husband to share my joy in doing these things, do these goals from past years still ring true? Or maybe that's the way it's suppose to be. Maybe we're supposed to keep on wishing and hoping and dreaming about that next project just over the horizon until the day we die. Even if that next "project" is just trying to figure out how to steal the jello off our future roommate's dinner tray at the nursing home. Without wishes and hopes and dreams would we ever accomplish anything? I don't think I want to slow down long enough to find out. ©

The bear pattern I lust after.
One of my micro-mini artisan babies.


  1. I think we all need a future project to look forward to. For some people, it is the vacation or cruise. For some olders, it is just something simple to keep our hands busy. For me, with no extra money, it is finding a stamped cross stitch baby quilt kit for $2.99 at the Salvation Army that I can stitch--for a non-existent great grandchild. I gotta have something!!!

  2. I like cross-stitch, too, but I been working on the same piece for over 40 years. It's one that I only work on when I have to hang around hospitals for any length of time and thus I hope I never finish it. LOL It's funny the little rituals we pick up through our lives. I like handcrafts better than traveling and I've never been on a cruise.

  3. I went through a range of emotions when I recently read some things I wrote when I was living with my father. Like you, sometimes I was proud and sometimes ashamed. As time passes, I think I'll put things in perspective.

    Your bear project or the prospect of a bear project sounds like a lot of fun. Doing something creative is so satisfying. Good luck on your book.

    I enjoy your blog very much, and I can't believe I've gotten three posts behind. I kept looking for an update from you in my reader, but nothing arrived. So I decided to come here and check it out myself. Imagine my surprise. I checked my reader and you were not there. I was certain I had "followed" you. Well, I fixed that pretty darned fast. Now I should get your updates, and now I'm off to catch up on your doings.

  4. Thank you for following me and for commenting from time to time!

    You will be able to put things in perspective, Bella, about your caregiving days. I doubt I would have been able to look at my 7 years of journals last year, when things were still so fresh, and see them in a different light than when they were written. I can separate from the emotion and see the nuts and bolts of the written words.

  5. Follow your dreams! If that means making artisan bears - do it! I think everyone needs to dream and set goals (even if it is swiping someone's jello, LOL)!

    P.S. I love, love, love artisan bears. And than little panda pattern is adorable.

  6. Thanks, Donna! Since I can't own a real panda baby and it wouldn't stay a baby anyway, I probably will get the pattern eventually. I'd probably increase the size for my first attempt, then try the micro size if I thought I could do it.