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, May 17, 2014

Romance and the Power of Forgiveness

Someone made a comment on one of my blogs that it sounded like I was romantic in my younger days and I was thinking about that on the way to meet my Movie and Lunch Club yesterday. I was writing in my head how I would answer that, if I was inclined to explain how I happened to become a bridal consultant in the floral industry. It’s not what it looks like on the surface. I didn’t and still don’t go gaga over weddings, I wasn’t drawn to them like a bee to honey. It all came about because of my mother’s raging hormones when she was going through menopause. Her doctor told her she needed to get a job. That was his prescription, can you believe that? So off she went to work at a large wholesale greenhouse when I was 12 or 13 and suffering from my own raging hormones. My poor father, what he must have gone through back then.

Fast forward a few years and one holiday the greenhouse wanted some teenagers to come help out with the rush. Entry me. I worked there all through high school and my first three years of college. One of owners was a crusty old man that a lot of workers were afraid of and they didn’t stay around. Not me. He liked my work ethic and I liked the challenge of keeping up with his barking orders. It was like a game to me and with my interest in art, I was good at the game we were “playing” which at that time was dressing holiday plants and making planters that were shipped out by the hundreds to places in five states. And in between wholesale orders, I was a ‘runner’ for the floral designers in the retail division. Thus when I dropped out of college at the end of my third year of college and needed a full time job I didn’t have to look hard to get an offer. And that is how I ended up spending two summers at floral design school, the second year for advanced wedding design.

I had all this on my mind when I sat down in the movie theater. I hadn’t read any of the reviews of the film we were seeing so I had no idea what The Railway Man would be about. It started out with a chance meeting on a train of a couple and when the lead character, Eric, asked Pattie: “Are you romantic?” I thought, Ohmygod, it’s a sign! I really DO need to write about this question! I was thinking the movie was going to be a romantic comedy. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  

For the next 116 minutes I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. The film is about a true story of prisoners of WWII who were tortured in a Japanese labor camp while building the notorious Thai/Burma Railroad. Eric had been traumatized and shut down emotionally for years because of his experiences and the story was told through a series of flashbacks after he and Pattie were married. She was determined to help him put his demons to rest and when the news came that his veteran’s group had tracked down the prison’s camp interpreter---who the prisoners hated and blamed the most for their torture---Pattie encouraged Eric to go confront his tormentor. The guy was a guide at the former work camp that had since been turned into a museum. So Eric packed a knife fully intending to kill the guy and extract vengeance but instead---spoiler alert---they ended up becoming good friends. It’s a true story about the power of forgiveness, but in a way it’s also a love story about a woman who believed so much in the goodness of the man she married that she was willing to do whatever was necessary to help him make peace with his horrible past, and a story about a man who loved a woman so much that he was willing to finally put his past behind him to hold on to her. But the "love story" part of the film only took up about 6 of 116 minutes so don't go expecting much romance on the screen. It won't be there.

Needless to say, I liked the movie. I like films that make you think and that are based on actual events. The atrocities of war are hard to watch but I feel strongly that we need to bear witness to them IF they are presented in a responsible way and not just showing violence gratuitously. I had similar feelings about watching the opening ceremony of the 911 museum this week. I didn’t like having my emotion churned up by what I was seeing, but it was important for me to stay tuned in to it---to honor those who suffered and are still suffering. And often times you can get glimpses of hope seeing ceremonies and movies of this kind and I am stuck by the resilience of human beings. That people can go through that kind of stuff and come out the other side finding that all import power of forgiveness that lets them move forward is amazing. I guess I really am a romantic because I truly believe and hope that someday the powers in charge will throw a war and no one---NO ONE on either side---will show up to fight. ©


  1. Sounds like a great movie. I really like historical movies--especially military ones (I don't know why.) I have heard of this story. I will have to watch for it to come out on DVD and do my amazon.com thing.

    1. Eric wrote a memoir in 2007 or eight. Maybe that's were you heard the story. The movie is based on the book.

      When you think about how incredibly hard it must have been to forgive after all this man went through it makes you wonder why it's nearly impossible for so many of us to forgive the little things in our own lives. All things are possible to those who believe it's possible.

  2. How moving your answer is. I think I understand you a little better. If I may, the fluff means far less than the 'rubber hits the road' power of love that we employ to see each other through. That is indeed true romance. Going back a post or two,... when that woman wanted you to create floral arrangements for her FOURTH wedding to be unlike any of her other weddings, you said 'enough'!!!

    I do want to see this movie, because of your review. How inspiring it sounds!

    1. I agree about the rubber hits the road power of love. That is true romance as opposed to romantic gestures, which are nice but they are not love.

      If you do go, make sure you stay and read the finally words with the photos of the people who were portrayed in the movie.

  3. I am just the opposite of you in movie tastes. I like light and fluffy, feel good, happy ending movies where I don't have to think at all. My brain has to think too much in reality so I need an escape.

    I rarely go to the movies ... and I don't know why! Especially now that I have hearing help. It's surely a hobby I can do solo (like my very own book club!) since you can't talk during the whole two hours anyway.

    But I do have a romantic streak! And romantic comedies are my favorite!

    1. I like fluffy, feel good movies too. About the only kind I don't like are science fiction or stuff like the Walking Dead, Vampires, and dark stuff. We go to a big complex and 1/3 of our group often goes to a different movie than the main part of the club, then we all meet for lunch after. I don't always like the movies they pick but I enjoy going to different restaurants afterward which I would never do on my own.

  4. Hi, Jean. I've been reading everything you post, but every time it's time to comment, something happens to prevent me from writing a comment. Frustrating.

    It's interesting to read about how you became a floral wedding consultant. I often wonder how people end up doing what they do.

    I hadn't heard about the movie. It sounds intense but intense. I have to be in the right frame of mind to watch movies like that.

    Funny about how your mother's doctor told her to handle menopause. Those were the days... Not.

  5. Man, I hope it's not the mechanics of Bloggers that is making it hard to comment! That would be frustrating to me too and not something I could fix.

    How people end up doing the kind of work they do is a great way to get someone talking. We/I ask that question a lot and the answers are often surprising and quite interesting.

    The movie was intense and one I'll see again someday when it comes on TV. It's kind of interesting that part of our Movie and Lunch club will break off to see a different movie at the complex that is playing at the same time. They always choose a violent, action film with lots of guns, explosions and chases but that group didn't want to see this movie because of the it-really-happened violence.