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, January 7, 2014

Snow Days and Widow Wishes

Years ago when my husband had a commercial snow removal business he called snowflakes pennies from heaven. If that were actually true I’d have a million dollars stacked up in my yard, on my deck and straining my roof. It’s well over two foot deep in areas that haven’t been touched by a shovel, even deeper in the drifts. We haven’t had a plow come down my street in almost a week and they say it will be a few more days before the city gets to all the side streets. The list of cancellations keeps crawling across my TV screen and it looks like the entire city is staying home with me. Even my hair salon called to cancel about two minutes before I was going to call them to do the same. Needless to say, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

The first day of our snow storm, a couple from down the street who I’ve never met before rang my doorbell. They were on the way to the grocery store and wanted to know if I needed anything. They said they hadn’t seen any activity around my house in recent days and wanted to make sure I was alright. After I thanked them for stopping and assured them that it was just a bad cold keeping me inside, they handed me a piece of paper with their phone numbers on it. They’d also been down to my mailbox and handed me several days’ worth of mail and newspapers. As they left, I couldn’t help tearing up---tears of both gratitude and sadness. I’m grateful that people do notice and keep track of me, even if I’m not aware of them doing it. Since Don passed away there have been many times when I’ve thought that I could be died for weeks before anyone would miss me.

But the neighbors stopping made me sad as well as grateful because it signals that I’m now officially old enough that others feel the need to look out for me, the elderly woman living alone on the block. It doesn’t seem like all that many years ago that Don and I were the ones looking out for the elderly people living nearby. I used to have a clock that had an inscription on its face that read: “The seeds of today are the flowers of tomorrow.” I guess those seeds we planted in the universe so many years ago when Don and I would rake leaves or shovel snow for elderly neighbors have bloomed and it’s time to tend my garden. Next summer, I decided, I need to spend more time on my front patio instead of my back deck. I need to walk the dog on my block more often instead of always going to the nature trail. I need to get to know my neighbors better. I can’t get any younger and someday a kind neighbor keeping track of me from afar could save my life.

When I was a kid snow days meant we’d get to put on our snowsuits and built snow forts in the yard or go sledding or ice skating. As teenagers my brother and I went tobogganing, ice skating and even ice fishing. In my twenties I took up downhill skiing---mostly for the social life at the lodges--and snowmobiling. When I first met Don in my late twenties he bought a snowmobile so we didn’t have to keep borrowing one from my folks. We even tried cross-country skiing. I loved, loved, loved snowmobiling especially at night when we’d go on the groomed trails through the woods around Michigan. Along the trails were places we could stop for chili, hot chocolate, etc., and we often traveled in groups of five to ten snowmobiles. Sometimes we'd turn our machines off at the top of high hill and just enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the moonlit, snowy meadow while drinking coffee from a steaming thermos.

A snowstorm, in the past, meant fun was coming close on its heels. But as Don’s snow removal business grew we could no longer burn the candle at both ends by playing and working in the snow with no time to sleep in between. Everything has its season and my season of snow related fun is now limited to good memories and maybe a horse-drawn carriage ride at the sculpture garden should I find someone to go with me. But I’ll admit that when I was at the L.L.Bean website this week and I saw some adult snow pants, for a fleeting moment I thought about buying them so I can revert back to building stuff in the snow. There are some amazing snow sculptors out there and wouldn’t it be fun to be one of them? Wouldn't that give the neighbors something to talk about! The crazy, old widow who wishes she could be a kid again. ©

* The photo above is of me, my brother and his friend, taken in 1952.


  1. Jean :

    I am so happy that you have such a sweet neighbors who checked on you, hope you will repay their concern. pictures you posted r so sweet I m guessing you r the one sitting down


  2. Oh yes, you guessed right. My older brother is the one wearing the sweater with a bucking horse and the aviator's hat. He loved that sweater so much, which my mother knitted, that she added length to the sleeves and bottom several times and put leather patches to the worn elbows. I still have my old sled!

  3. I love when people check in on me! Anyone who lives alone should have regular communication with someone so that they do NOT have to be dead for a week before anyone notices!

    There is a group here on Maui who do this. Angel Ohana or something similar. While it is more than having a daily check-in buddy, even just the routine that someone calls at a certain time to see what's happening. I always leave a note on my kitchen island if I'm going further than 30 minutes from home .... just in case!

    While there are professional services where you wear a button and check in twice a day, friends and family and neighbors are even better!!! Anytime we got snow in Oregon, any neighbors with 4 wheel drive checked with everyone when they got off the hill!

    So it's not always old age .... right? Right?????

  4. I leave the notes on the table too. We've both probably watched to many CSI shows. LOL

    I could sign up for the call-in buddy here, too. But it's just a machine who dials you and if you don't answer then the machine dials someone in your family that you've named. I can see where that could cause more trouble than it's worth at this point in time. I'm in and out of the house too much. I wear an emergency dialer but I haven't ordered the check-in part of the service----yet. I don't feel old enough for that. If I had medical issues it might be different.

  5. How wonderful those snowmobiling adventures sound, especially the picture you paint being at the top of a hill, machines turned off, taking in the beauty and steaming coffee.

    I wonder if you piqued your neighbors' curiosity when they saw you chipping your icy driveway a little bit at a time, and sprinkling that black stuff on it. You are definitely a woman who knows her way around snow. I'm curious. How is your dog enjoying two plus feet of snow?

  6. Love the pic of you guys in the snow. I had a sled like yours, and I still have mine,too. It's up in the attic. That snowmobiling at night sounds like so much fun and very romantic. I've never done that before... or ice fishing or snow skiing. I fished a lot as a kid, but it was all in warm weather, and I skied but it was waterskiing. Different climate. We did do a lot of sledding, day and night. So much fun. I'm so glad your neighbors checked on you, and walking your dog in the neighborhood and sitting on your front porch are good ideas. I like how solution oriented you are. You always seem to think of ways to correct something once you recognize it's an issue. I think that makes us feel empowered. Stay warm and safe. You guys are in a midst of a mess up there.

  7. Levi is not into playing in the snow the way some dogs do. He likes to eat it and he has a strange habit of wanting to use snow to cover up his poop like cats do with litter. But when the snow is deep he has to be pushed outside. Maybe the pristine look of newly fallen snow looks so perfect to him he don't want to spoil it?

    You could be right about the neighbor's. After my days of ice chipping I disappeared inside with my cold for a few days. Maybe they thought I gave myself a heart attack. I talked to my niece tonight and she says you don't have to be old to have neighbors check on you. In her neighborhood the neighbors all check on each other in weather like we've had. While I was on the phone the snow plow FINALLY came down the street!!! I'm no longer snow bound! I can't wait to go somewhere tomorrow.

  8. Bella, I've never thought it like that before---that I'm solution oriented and that empowers me, but I think you're right. I need to feel in control of my future, even if it's in little tiny ways.

    I'm so glad I'm not the only sentimental person about my childhood toys.

  9. Thank you so much for your blog - I have been widowed about 18 months, and I have truly enjoyed reading both your blog and "The Awkward Widow's Blog" on your sidebar. One of you (I believe it was you) recently mentioned that you had read two different blog entries from friends recently about how they had become introverts rather than extroverts through the grief process. I've experienced that as well, and wondered if you could direct me to those posts if available. That process has really surprised me, and I would like to hear about others' experience as well. Thanks again for all that you do to shine a light on the darker spaces of the journey. And I'm glad the snow plow made it down your street, too. ;-)

  10. Thank you for your comments, Cindy and welcome to my blog! The posts you're talking about are still available here and at AW's blog. I will try to find the one in this blog and come back here to post a link. For some reason, the 'search' feature here at Bloggers hasn't been working lately so it might be tomorrow before I have the time to look through the posts in the 'blog archive' in the side.

  11. Cindy, I found it. The discussion was mostly in the comment section and the last few paragraphs of my 11-24-13 post titled, "Holiday Funerals, Facebook and Discontent.


  12. I heard the local weatherman say, "Don't forget to check in on your elderly neighbor's" and I assume he is talking about someone other then me--when in reality..........GEEZ! Oh how I remember sno mobiling along the groomed trails up north AND even the trail we made that went down our lane and through our woods. There is nothing quieter in this world then when you shut down the machines and just sit and listen. Thanks for the memories!!! This storm has sort of reminded me of the snow we used to get when we were kids. Not the cold, but the amount of snow--good times.

  13. Judy, I'm always amazed at how much we have in common. I never would have pegged you for a snowmobiler. I'll bet we've even run on the same trails up north.

    Our local weatherman are reminding people to check on the elderly, too. LOL

  14. Jean - thanks for finding that for me - I appreciate your efforts, and hope that the "polar vortex" is lessening, both factually and figuratively. ;-)

  15. No problem, Cindy. I'm always thrilled when I get comments and I hope you'll stick around. We're getting a warm up starting tomorrow! Yeh!!!!!!

  16. What a beautiful picture. What memories! Nice neighbors, too. Good idea to walk through the neighborhood more.

  17. Isn't it sad that my neighbors have lived there for seven years and we've never met before. They only live three doors down. The neighborhood association has parties occasionally but they are down by the lake which is not accessible to wheelchairs so we'd never gone to them. That needs to change now that I'm alone and can get down to the lake.

    I love that photo, too. I think I might like to do a photo book of my childhood.,,,like I need another project.