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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Rhythms of LIfe, Fly Fishing and Widowhood

This post is part of Flashback Wednesday that I'll be doing through November as I take part in National Novel Writers Month. (The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month.)  What follows in a movie "review" I wrote for one of my top all-time five favorite movies. At first you might not see its relationship to widowhood---and maybe it's an obscure stretch for me to say it has one for anyone but me. However, it definitely has something to do with accepting the rhythms of life---birth, death and everything in between.

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Robert Redford, director and voice-over narrator of the film, A River Runs Through It, says near the beginning of the movie: “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things---trout as well as eternal salvation---came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy.” As films go, this one is a masterpiece with Oscar award winning cinematography and with spoken language that closely follows the autobiography on which the film is based.

For anyone who hasn’t seen this 1992 movie, it’s a story of two sons growing up in the same house with their Presbyterian minister father in rural Montana, in the early 1900s, but with different results. One takes the path of vice and personal destruction while the other brother becomes a professor of literature in Chicago. It’s a story about the unconditional love between brothers and a father and their mutual love of fly fishing that binds them together. It’s no accident that many parallels between the art of fly fishing and the rhythms of life are carefully drawn into the texture of this favorite film of mine.

I’m not a fly fisherman---though I’ve done a bit of it growing up in the summers on a lake---but there is one fly casting scene in this movie that is a spiritual experience just to watch. In the scene Brad Pitt, who plays one of the sons, is fly fishing in the Big Blackfoot River, in total communication with nature, using an artful casting rhythm that has far advantaged beyond the four count rhythm of a metronome that his father had taught him as a child. And watching this scene---the morning sun dancing on the greenery and bubbling blue water, the sounds of nature blending with the casting rhythms as his fly tempts the trout to the surface---you understand the reverence this film is trying to convey about the relationship between religion and art. The art of doing something well after years of practice---of creating something from nothing---and knowing that it’s only through the grace of God that we humans are able to find our passion in life and that is something few of us appreciate the way we should.

Grace is my favorite word in the English language. My Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines ‘grace’ this way: Unmerited divine assistance given to man for his regeneration…” I see grace in my life in simple things like being born into a family that nurtured its children and in the fact that I was born in a place and time where there were opportunities for women. I see grace in the angry storm that passes without damage, or in the car accident that I’m able to avoid. I see grace in the fact that we find people to love. And especially in the fact that people find creative activities that we can get passionate about, that regenerate our spirits and souls. Fly fishing, baking bread, gardening, painting---there are many art forums that we can practice to perfection and find that kind of regeneration of spirit in the doing.

But life is also about choices---about choosing between living on the edge or living within the circle of rightness. Two brothers grow up with the same opportunities and love from their parents. One grows into a responsible adult and as an elderly man, writes a story about his brother who took a different path and died young. Not exactly Cain and Able but none the less A River Runs Through It is a movie with the same message. Choice and grace---man has been enjoying from them both since the beginning of our place on earth. The waters flow. The flowers grow and man comes and goes as the basement of time keeps the rhythm of life as each generation finds what ever it is that speaks to their souls.

The last lines of the movie are spoken in a voice-over by Mr. Redford, words written by Norman Maclean: “….when I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul, and memories. And the sounds of the Big Black Foot River, and a four count rhythm, and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs….” ©


  1. Jean :

    loved your blog & while discussing with hubby about it. he pointed similar thing we have in our eastern beliefs like whatever is happening in your life is product of your karma in this life or from your previous life.so like why some one's house is spared in storm & some one got destroyed, so in eastern beliefs we believe in destiny & bad & good things just happens


  2. Thank you for sharing that, Asha! I am a product of my environment meaning I have a blending of beliefs borrowed from many cultures including yours. I think the Eastern philosophy in many ways is a healthier way of view life than believing in a Western God that punishes and rewards. I wish were were neighbors. I'd be picking your brain over a cup a tea right now. LOL

  3. Jean :

    it would be so much fun living near by since for me I had trouble accepting my stroke based on eastern philosophy. So for me westeern belief syatem relieved me form my why me suffering.I too believe in all cultures & belief system whatever gives me most comfort at the time of my need is my religion. I feel at the end of the day all religions leads you to one God, and you can call it jesus, allah or 100 hindu god names.


  4. Amen to that, Asha...a world view of spirituality. Whatever works when you need it.

  5. I'm glad to start my day being reminded of this wonderful movie. I'll never forget Brad Pit standing there on that riverbank bathed in that brief moment of "perfection" after the scene you describe.

  6. I love this movie and never tire of seeing which I do about once a year.

  7. The rhythms of life,like trout in a stream,choices we make along the way sometimes strengthens us or destroys us. But may we all have the grace of God in our lives to find something to be passionate about and to look to something higher than us.