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 5, 2013

Widows and Homeless People

It amazes me sometimes, the things some people assume about others they don’t know very well. Recently an acquaintance---when she found out I don’t have any children---said to me, “I’ll bet you really enjoy giving your nieces and nephew gifts. A childless friend of mine,” she went on, “sends her nieces and their families on nice trips every year. Do you do things like that?”

“Well, no,” I replied. “I’m more security conscious than that. I’m more concerned about having enough money to take care of myself until I die, since no one else is legally or morally obligated to do it. When I’m gone then they can have what’s left.”

“That’s interesting,” the woman said before we both got distracted by the speaker we’d come to hear.

Interesting? What the heck did that mean? Was I deemed a selfish aunt who, unlike her friend, doesn’t want to see the “young’un” enjoy themselves in Hawaii on my dime? Well, excuse me, but I’d rather make sure I don’t have to eat cat food or live in a cardboard box in the last few years of my life. Interesting? I can’t get that word out of my head. The mating habits of octopus are interesting. The way gravity works is interesting. But a middle class widow who doesn’t want to give away her nest egg is just using boring, old common sense.

I thought about this odd conversation today on my way home from a Red Hat Society work day where we packed dozens of plastic shoeboxes for homeless veterans---throw-away razors, socks, gloves, hats, tooth brushes and paste, tissues, Wipes, crackers and cheese, hand cream, jerky sticks, fingernail files, paper and pens, waterless hand cleaner, puzzle books, combs, etc. etc. What a scary and unpleasant thing it must be to live on the streets, especially in the dead of winter. I thank the gods of good medical insurance for the fact that I’m not living out of a shopping cart. When I was hanging around the stroke and language disorders support communities I heard plenty of horror stories from people who lost everything when their health went south.

Back to the suburbs and our nice, warm houses. Packing the shoeboxes was actually a crazy kind of fun. We collected a mountain of stuff between the 18 ladies who showed up for the work party. And I was enormously relieved to learn that people from a veteran’s affairs office will be distributing the boxes for us. I couldn’t quite picture myself all dressed up my Red Hat garb--- red coat, purple beads and broad brimmed hat that would catch in wind---crawling underneath snowy viaducts looking for homeless men, or going down to the soup kitchen at line-up time and trying to sort the homeless veterans out from the rest of men without walls and windows to call their own. And why do we discriminate in the first place? Is there a pecking order among the homeless that I don’t know about? Sadly, I suppose there is.

After our box packing work was done, a few of the ladies got to talking about the movie, Last Vegas, and how much they enjoyed it. The storyline is about four old dudes who decide to “stop acting their age and relive their glory days” according to IMDb. (Don’t you just love how IMDb can sum up an entire movie with so few words?) Anyway, the next thing I knew someone was looking up the movie schedule on their smart phone and making plans to see it on the way home. I want to see the movie badly but I was afraid of the fog that was rolling in and the distance I’d have to drive in it after the movie let out, so I passed on the opportunity to tag along. But I like how this group of ladies roll. ©


  1. Loved the movie! No profound meaning in it, just light comedy and to go out and have fun before you kick off! Maybe another organization just for plain ole' homeless people will come to Red Hat and you can pack more boxes. Nursing homes and homeless people scare me--guess I can see my future? Guess a nursing home would be better then under a railroad bridge?Yes--we need to watch our finances because, as you said, no one else will--even if one DOES have kids!

  2. We actually packed boxes for people in a nursing home, too. But I didn't take part in that assembly line. They scare me worst that the homeless because I know the nursing home is a very real possibility in my future. LOL Our Red Hat chapter does all their do-good projects through the same nursing home and the same homeless veterans service office. It's their "thing."

    I've known a couple of people who gave a lot of money to their kids and when they needed help in their last years those kids were long gone from their lives.

  3. Now I do want to see the movie. It sounded a bit on the corny side but hey! I need a little of that!

    Personally, I hate the idea of "entitlement" that people want to put on OUR money. Especially not knowing the amount we even have. Even children seem to think they should get a bundle, before or after we are gone. My legacy will be to not leave a mountain of debt!!

  4. Jean, you had "children" on a previous site we both belonged to, well they called you "mom" anyway. I agree, I don't give my kids or grandkids big hand-outs, I am not well-off anyway but I do need to meet my own needs for as long as I can. It is sensible to managed your money well. And yes, I agree, they can have what is left after I am gone.

  5. AW: I like your line about your legacy will be to not leave a mountain of debt. I will be stealing that one if the topic ever comes up again. Glad you shared that!

    Anonymous: I totally forgot about being called 'mom' on that site. That was pretty cool back then....still is a nice memory now that you've helped me recall it.

    I think some older people don't want to acknowledge how quickly their nest eggs can disappear if you have to go to assisted living or a nursing home.

  6. Funny the assumptions about childless women people jump to. Perhaps that acquaintance was fishing for your net worth.

    Thanks for turning me on to IMDb - I think. It lets me know how far off the culture track I've fallen. I keep thinking I'll have time to watch all these great movies someday, snuggled up with someone warm. Nowadays, though, my attention span is about an hour, just time for one TV show with dinner.

    I have a lot of catching up to do - How did your month of writing go?

  7. I love IMDb for checking out movies past and presence.

    With National Novel Writing Month, I logged in 48,622 words of the required 50,000 words required to get the coveted right to buy the "I did it" tee-shirt. LOL