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

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dying, Planes and Peanut Butter Cookies

We still have snow here in West Michigan but the piles are getting lower and the roads are blissfully dry and safe again. I can even see patches of grass underneath my pine trees and along the foundation on the south side of my house. The daytime temperatures are in the 40’s, the lows at night are in the 20’s and I saw my first robin. In this part of the world, seeing the first robin of the year is a big, folklore deal. Although my cousin who lives 70 miles south of here said several robins have been hanging around her house all winter. “The weather was so bad,” she wrote on her Facebook page, “their flight south got canceled.”

It’s been a busy week here on Widowhood Lane. I went to two lectures, my Movie and Lunch Club, a Red Hat tea, and a craft show. The coffee and donuts they served at one of the lectures was the best thing about the event. It had a bait-and-switch topic but I am a polite little old lady who doesn’t like to make waves in public so I listened without showing my annoyance at having to sit through an hour long commercial. The second lecture was titled, “I’m Dying to Talk to You.” Its speaker had been a Hospice volunteer for twenty-five years and his talk was packed with a lot of laugh lines. Who knew talking about death could be so funny? And I’ll bet you’re asking yourself why a widow would want to go to a lecture about dying. The answer would be that I was so bored when the senior hall newsletter came out last month that I would have signed up for a class on how to turn dog poop into folk art. I was that, crawling-the-walls bored and it seemed like a good idea of at the time to sign up for everything and anything.

The audience for talking-about-dying was large and after the lecture many of us shared warm/funny/tender/comforting etc., experiences that happened while being at someone’s death bed. I told the story of my dad dying in the wee minutes of Christmas Morning. He was in a Hospice home and he had been unresponsive for several hours. We knew the end was very near when his hard-of-hearing roommate turned on the televised Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. Pipe organ music filled the room and my dad opened his unfocused eyes and said, “Am I there yet?” I just knew he was looking for the Pearly Gates of Heaven. He died shortly after that and I was still laughing through my tears. I cherish that memory from my Dad’s last minutes on earth as much as a cherish the at-peace look on my husband’s face when he passed over. Being there when someone dies can actually give you a sense of comfort.

At my Movie and Lunch Club on we saw Non-Stop, a film that involves an airplane, murders and a bomb on aboard. IMBd describes it this way: “An air marshal springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account.” At first I thought whoever picked that movie to see---given the mystery of missing Flight 370 going on right now---had their head screwed onto to a tree stump. But I went without voicing that opinion out loud because, as I said before, I’m a polite little old lady who doesn’t like to make waves in public. Sometimes its easy to see where filtering your thoughts saved you from the embarrassment of having to eat your words and this was one of those times. The movie turned out to be a good one with lots of twists and turns that kept you guessing who the bad guys were right up until the end. Of the eleven of us who went, though, another “little old lady” did voice her reservations about seeing the film and it made me wonder how many of the dozen or so others in the club who didn’t show up were acting on their qualms about seeing an aircraft hi-jacking. A movie and lunch club is like a book club. They both serve the purpose of pushing you out of your comfort zone and that’s usually a good thing.

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn to go to a craft show out in the boondocks. A couple of my Red Hat sisters were vendors there so I wanted to see their handiwork. Up and down hills I went as I traveled country roads to a place I’d never been before. Taking in the long vistas of snow covered orchards had me yearning for the days when Don and I took car trips. Living in the suburbs it’s hard sometimes to remember there is a whole different way of life out there in rural America and when the city got too much for us we’d take a day trip poking around the back roads to no where in particular.

The very first vendor I saw at the craft show was selling cross-stitched tea towels that read: “A house without Jesus can never be a home.”  I’m still baffled by a message that seemed Church Lady snotty and judgmental to me. Four or five other vendors were likewise selling crafts with Christian messages and I was starting to feel like I was back in grade school and being judged not good enough to play with so and so because Jesus was not living where I did. About the sixth Christian themed vendor booth I came across I was thinking, where are the baked goods? I feel a sugar binge coming on! I found them and I went home with a plate of peanut butter cookies that looked and tasted exactly like those my mom used to make. ©


  1. I just love your blog! Provocative and always funny! And humor is what gets me through most everything. Even death and dying. Especially death and dying. And caregiving!!


    P.S. I'd head for the cookies as well. 12 years of Catholic school made me very wary!

    1. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me when readers and blog community friends like you take the time to comment.

      I probably should have mentioned that the craft show took place at a rather large Catholic church out in the middle of nowhere.

  2. I find humor in the worse places--like Hospices and funeral homes--or maybe it is just a defense mechanism of mine? I love what your Dad said. My Dad was also unresponsive for a couple of days (aren't they always in Hospice? The keep them morphined so nicely), he all of a sudden, sat up, swung his legs over the edge of the bed and said, "I'm ready to go now." and died about 30 minutes later. I hope I say or do something dramatic like that too--just so the kids will remember, Mom was a kook right to the end. I consider myself a Christian, a church going woman and yet, as I look around here, I don't have anything religious in this house and I certainly wouldn't want kitchen towels like that. Oh wait--I just remember, on my bed room wall is a cross stitch my daughter made me about Footsteps In The Sand and I do have 6 crosses on my wall--different kinds of crosses;wooden, metal, palm leaves, stone, so--I guess I'm guilty.

  3. Hearing about things like your dad and my dad did near the end really makes you wonder what goes on in the mind just before they pass.

    I consider myself an agnostic and I've got two bookshelves full of books on religions of the world, Buddhas, Bibles, and a the small copy of The Pieta (Jesus and Mary). I would expect your house to have the stuff you named None of that stuff would give me a second thought.. It was the way that cross stitch at the craft show was worded that really got to me. I've never seen anything like that before in my life.

  4. Oh my gosh, but I do love your humor and writing. I hope you will format your blog and get it into at least an eBook. Your blog is not only funny, it is very helpful.
    Being at the bedside of a dying person really is spiritual and a privilege. As a nurse for decades, I came to the conclusion that each of us is spiritual....and religion is a very personal thing. As I have aged I have become "repelled" by other people's versions of religion. The older I get, the less things "fit", emotionally, mentally, physically....and I guess spiritually. I don't know what that's about but it is what it is. I would have passed up those tea towels too!

    1. Coming from a good writer like you, I'm flattered by your comments.

      I agree with you about each of us being spiritual. Religion is a different ball of wax. I keep wondering what kind of a Christian it takes to spend the time it takes to cross-stitch a tea towel doing one with such a mean-spirited message.

  5. I can live without those tea towels. Did you see your Red Hat vendors at the show?

    I'm not quite ready to trade funny stories about dying, but I can tell you I for me it felt a lot more sacred than the tea towel messages. I'm in agreement with Riverwatch, it's a privilege, especially when one's ready to go. Thanks for the story about your Dad, and thank you, Judy for telling us about your Dad.

    1. Yes, I did. One of friends was selling jewelry made of polished stones and I bought a couple of things. The other one was selling garden art made out of china and glassware and I won a garden flower made out of plates in the door prize drawing,