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, November 28, 2013

Preach It, Sister Preach It!

I had to go to the doctor’s office today to pee in a bottle. Again. I just did it yesterday and they somehow let the specimen get frozen. We’ve got three inches of snow and ice on the ground here in Michigan and it didn’t occur to them that it’s cold outside? They forgot you can’t leave stuff like that outside for pickup in an uninsulated box. When I told them that I may not be able to get back there today the girl on the phone begged. “The paperwork has already gone through the computer,” she said, “and they need a bottle to go with the lab orders.” Jeez, I got the impression that if I didn’t get  right back in someone else's urine would end up in a bottle labeled with my name and I’d be pronounced cured or pregnant. So off I went.

On the way home I stopped at Starbucks and it took a bit longer than usual because they had to unlock their cash box to get change. When the girl handed me my caramel macchiato she also gave me a card that read: “We apologize if your Starbucks experience was anything but wonderful. The next time we see you, please enjoy a beverage, on us.” After reading it, I decided the doctor’s office should hand out something similar. “We apology for letting your pee get frozen and you had to drive all the way across town to do give us another sample. The next time you are scheduled to pee in a cup we will wave your co-pay on the test.” Now that would have made me feel better about the inconvenience.

I pulled over to enjoy my caramel macchiato and noticed the sky was bright blue with fluffy clouds and those clouds pulled me back in time to when I was going to Sunday school classes back in the 1940s. The teacher had a board on a painter’s easel that was covered with flannel and she’d slap cut-out pictures on the flannel as props to tell Bible stories and they would stick. I have a vivid image stuck in my head of God standing on a flannel cloud looking down on a field full of cut-out cows clinging to the flannel. Can you image kids in our hi-tech world paying attention to a story told in flannel and cut-outs images from a coloring book?

I acknowledge and respect the fact that all of us have the right (and duty) to follow our own path to God…just as I have done decades ago. They may see God as an all-knowing, all-powerful “him” sitting up somewhere controlling and creating everything down here on earth. Many people believe in this kind of God. Many people believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible or the literal interpretation of other religious scriptures from other religions. I would never try to persuade anyone to take my point of view. But the image of a God sitting on a flannel cloud just never worked for me. The definition of God that I subscribe to is this one: God is Love, Love is God.

Back when I used to service weddings as a bridal consultant in the floral industry, I had occasion to talk to a lot of clericals from a wide range of Christian denominations and other religions. One conversation in particular, that has always stayed in my memory bank, happened when I found myself standing at the front of a church reading a silk banner stretched across the back wall of the altar area.

“It pretty simple isn’t it?” A minister smiled as he came up beside me.

“Simple?” I said.

“Yes, simple to understand what God is all about when you break it down that way,” he replied, nodding to the banner that read, God is Love, Love is God.

“You mean when you set aside the personification of God that man has assigned,” I asked, “and you just look at what that personification is supposed to convey?”

“You’ve got it!” he beamed, “I thought my sermon tomorrow would be harder to teach.”

“In one of my art history courses,” I told him, “We spent a lot of time studying the personifications and allegorical stories in early Christian art work. I did a term paper on the way personifications were used to teach the illiterate masses about morality.”

The minister laughed. “So I can’t count on my flock tomorrow catching on as quickly as you did?” He nodded to the banner again.

“A piece of cake,” I told him.

The conversation continued as I set up my wedding candelabras, taped flowers to the ends of the pews, and laid an aisle runner down. He was a good natured man, an interesting person and a joy to talk with. If I had had the inclination to be a church-goer I would have enjoyed his services but by that point in my life I’d come to believe that there are many paths to God. I had found my way and I didn’t feel the need for a minister, priest, rabbi, or other religious leader to keep me on the path to spiritual growth. And I still don’t; I am comfortable with my journey to inner peace. The Buddhists have a saying: The secret is there is no secret. The minister that day at the church put it another way: “Understanding God is so simple,” he said, “that most people think they’re missing something and they keep looking for answers in the scriptures.”

So how would I---an agnostic if your definition of the word fits me---respond to widows who can’t make peace with their loss because they are still looking for a lesson to learn from God for why a good man had to die and leave them all alone? I’d tell them that maybe they lack a real understanding of why we are each here on earth. I tell them a well-known secret: we are here to love one another. We are here to be God-like, to create goodness and overcome evil by spreading our love, by doing good things. When a death in the family happens that's heart-breaking but God (aka love) didn’t cause it. Love (aka God) helps us get through the pain. In my spiritual world, there is no lesson to learn, no punishment given. It is what it is. Shit happens. People live. People die and pee freezes when a sample is left outside in the winter.  ©


  1. Well said! Perhaps because I see God the way you describe - inclusive, and pervasive. The simple love that energizes and, since we are in the loving energy's midst, it encircles us, embraces us, IS us.

    I remember, when I 'found' God, I wanted to keep it 'Him' inside as I experienced it - the pervasive loving energy I let into the very core of my being. I eventually engaged, then disengaged from a church for reasons similar to what you've written. I can't call myself an agnostic. I'm a believer the way one 'believes' in gravity. God both is and isn't responsible for 'circumstances', and God, and love isn't to be confused WITH circumstances.

    Ahem. I guess the preachin bug bit me this morning, too. I was a little sad and wistful this morning. Your message cheers me. Now off through the woods to sister's house I go. I hope your day cheers you.

  2. I guess when I wrote this I was just getting ready for the possibility that the super-sized Christian family I'm spending this afternoon with will ask me to lead a prayer. LOL I call myself an agnostic but I believe in the "God Power" if I can define the words myself. But I really fight (in my head, not with others I meet) the concept that no one can know God except through Jesus. I don't accept that so in the eyes of some denominations of Christianity I can't know God therefore that automatically makes me a heathen.

    Glad you got something useful out of my "Sunday sermon." I used to write a lot of them, and I still do in my mind.

  3. You got it! Now--over the river and through the woods to sister's house I go--as does Go With The Flow!! Enjoy our day as best we can!

  4. Hope everyone's day is filled with love and peace. Jeez, I sound like a hippie! Is there a war protest around here?

  5. God is love. I find it comforting and a very good reminder to let people know how you feel about them.

    I hope your Thanksgiving goes well and I hope they do not ask you to pray. I don't like praying in public. Some people can do a bang up job of it. Let them do it, I say.

  6. Thanks Bella, enjoy your day at your brother's.

  7. Jean :

    this blog of yours has been my all time favorite God gives you strength to get through difficult time by providing right people & thoughts to read in your path when you needed them most. thankyou for being there for me through your great blogs & at SN, hope you had great thanksgiving


    1. Thanks Asha!

      I had a good time today. My nephew and great nephew sat next to me sat at dinner, so I didn't really feel too out of place. After dinner about nine of us played a card game called B.S. it was so much fun. I found out I can't lie and get away with it, which is part of the game.

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    1. As usual, your post is spot on! Not only did I survive my first "widow" holiday, I actually had FUN! Just the five of us and two later drop ins for conversation. We were so busy yakking we didn't even play games!

      So glad YOU had fun as well!

    2. AW: That's great news. Anticipation is often the worse than what we fear.

  9. I remember those flannel boards! Mine were from elementary school since I didn't spend much time in Sunday school. I've always had a hard time picturing God as some bearded old guy in a chair. One of my favorite Far Side cartoons is God making snakes out clay and saying "These things are a cinch!"

    1. Finally, someone else who remembers the flannel boards. I have nightmares about some of the pictures our Sunday school teacher put on that board. :)