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, December 26, 2013

Second Christmas on Widowhood Lane

Have you ever sat next to someone who announces she’s so sick she should have stayed home in bed and you’re thinking, “Thanks a lot for bringing your germs out in public” but you actually say, “Oh, that’s too bad, dear. I hope you’ll feel better soon.” It’s at times like that, though, when I wish I could scoot my chair back with the speed of light and shout, “Get away from me!”

“Occupational hazard,” she says after describing how long she’s had the hacking cough and sore throat. She’s a daycare worker and apparently she, her co-workers and the kids have been trading germs back and forth all winter. I didn’t want to be one of her trading partners but aside from being rude, what choice did I have but to sit there imagining grimy little daycare germs flying through the air with each coughing spell?

By now you’ve probably figured out where this is going. Yes, I got sick the next week---the day before Christmas. It started with the chills and an all-over achy feeling, but I’d been outside chipping ice for two days and I thought maybe I had just gotten too much cold air down my lungs. Then my throat got sore and my voice took on a course, gravelly sound like heavy smokers get. The coughing spasms started next. If I was a kid I’d think I have whooping cough. Sometimes the spasms don’t want to stop and I think I’m going to crack a rib coughing so hard. But on the good side, I don’t have a fever and I still have enough color that I won’t get mistaken for a cast member from the Walking Dead. The house is also well stocked with tea, honey, soup and throat lozenges. The lozenges, however, are six months past their expiration date but I’m assuming that won’t kill me.

Christmas morning I got a call from my sister-in-law inviting me over for a prime rib dinner that afternoon. Had I felt like going it would have been nice to have some where to go but I had to decline. I didn’t want to be the person who says, “I should have stayed home in bed” while everyone else is pushing their chairs back trying to put distance in between themselves and my germs. So I settled in my La-Z-Boy with a bowl of mint chocolate ice cream and watched It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and that was my Christmas.

I love that old black and white movie. But it did get me to thinking about managing our expectations. George---the hero Mr. Stewart played---had a life-long, unrequited dream of traveling the world and doing big things. But over the years he had to learn how to balance his regret and acceptance of never fulfilling his dreams. Still, he never appreciated that he actually did have a pretty wonderful life…until he was given the opportunity to see what the world would have been like if he’d never been born---how one person missing in the landscape could throw off the yin/yang balance. He saw how his saving one life led to saving many others. He saw how without his kind-hearted and moral business sense to counter-balance Mr. Potter’s Scrooge-like business practices the town would have grown into a cold, depressing and immoral place. He saw that his life was rich beyond measure in friendship and family, that he actually had done some pretty amazing things in his life.

I don’t know if it’s true for everyone in my age bracket or of just widows or just a few of us ‘well-seasoned people’ but I spend a lot of time trying to balance my regrets and acceptance of unfulfilled dreams and time trying to manage my expectations for the rest of my life. I don‘t want to set my sights too high or too low. For me, I know that widowhood brought on this discontent. When I was just living my life with Don I didn’t think about my long-ago unrequited dreams. I didn’t think about my own mortality. I just lived in the moment as much as I could because that worked for me while I was living in a world full of his disabilities where anything and everything could change in a heartbeat. We made the best of life, had happy times and lots of laughs. Now, I feel like I’m wasting time, kind of like George felt at the beginning of the movie when one thing after another got in the way of his making his Great Escape.  Sooner or later I have to quit worrying about the future and learn to live in the moment again. Like George, I have to learn to appreciate the rich life I've had and can still have. It may not have been the life I planned but it's been a good one.  ©

 “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” 
 John Lennon


  1. That's the conundrum I faced that got me writing my blog, subtitled 'living in the present tense'. You know, it's certainly better than living in the irretrievable past tense, at least for me. Now, a few years into this experiment, I wonder if I shrank my dreams to accommodate shrinking opportunities.

    My spirit has rebelled with living 'only' in the present tense. Now I'm thinking I need immensity, creative immensity, which includes the future. We make our own opportunities, don't we?

    I'm so sorry you're feeling wretched - something seems to be going around. Please do drink tea, take lozenges, slurp chicken soup, and rest. Something significant is around the corner.

  2. I watched that movie from beginning to end for the first time this year--before I had seen bits and pieces. Sick people make me nervous also--I do not like being sick and haven't been in years and years. Spending Christmas Day alone isn't too bad really--or at least I don't think it is--especially if you have a bowl of ice cream, a nice comfy recliner and a good movie. How, we've got the 2nd Sad-Aversary to get through and then we are on our way for another year. Hopefully, year 3 will be a bit more tolerable.

  3. I'm sorry you caught that bug. But it sounds like you had a cozy day. On the bright side, look at all the invitations you turned down this season! You'll need to be sure to reclaim them next year. Rest up. You deserve it!

  4. I actually said, "Oh, my God" out loud when I read - "Yes, I got sick the next week---the day before Christmas." AND again when I got to the part about missing out on a prime rib dinner. I love prime rib.

    What is it with people who take their germs out to meet other folks? This didn't bother me as much when I still had a decent immune system and before my lungs decided they didn't want to work at optimal capacity any longer. Now it annoys the heck out of me.

    I give some thought to regret, too. I believe it's a function of age and coming to terms with it all. I guess this time of year lends itself to introspection, too. We're still kicking though, and a New Year is on the horizon. Take care.

  5. Thank you all for the comments. It's been a long time since I've had a virus so I guess I was overdue. I can't tell if I feel any better today, but I definitely don't feel any worse so maybe that is progress.....

  6. Poor you. Being sick and widowed is a lonely place. Especially during the holidays.
    On the bright side, if there is one to be found, you do not have to put on a happy face and be out in public. You have a great excuse to be antisocial and miserable.
    Hope that you feel better soon. And, I do not think that lozenges have a expiration date.....

  7. Sick, tired, alone AND widowed. That stinks! Most certainly during holidays. Take good care of YOU for a change and speedy recovery!

  8. Thanks, ladies. I am feeling better today. My head isn't so stuffed up and with any luck I'll be able to get out of the house---finally!---for planned outings on Thursday and Friday. In the meantime, I'll be knitting up a storm.