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, June 14, 2014

The Fault in our Stars: A Widow's Review


When I got the e-mail from my Movie and Lunch Club letting me know we’d be seeing The Fault in our Stars I knew nothing about the award-winning book the film is based on. After looking it up on IMDb I wasn’t enthusiastic about seeing a film with teenagers in the leading parts and with a cancer theme piled on top of that. Oh, well, I thought, it’s an afternoon out so I e-mailed back, “Count me in!” Fast forward to Friday and I certainly didn’t expect to be sitting in a theater with a bunch of cry-babies (me included) for the latter quarter of the movie. One of the other widows in our group couldn’t even get out of her seat at the end. She had to sit there for five minutes composing her emotions before she could join us in the lobby and her face was so puffy from crying she looked like a person with a ragweed allergy who’d just spent the night sleeping on a pillow stuffed with those evil weeds. As one reviewer promised about The Fault in our Stars, “It will break and heal your heart.” 

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” That’s a quote from the film and it’s talking about An Imperial Affliction, a factious novel that is discussed through-out the storyline of The Fault in our Stars. I feel that way about this movie. If you love love stories, if you love witty-but-deep characters, if you love emotional drama mixed with humor on the screen, and if you love dialogue that makes you wish you had a paper and pencil to record what you’re hearing to savor later you’ll love this movie. Did I say ‘love’ enough times in this paragraph? In case you missed a few ‘loves’ I loved this movie! I loved it so much I came home and ordered a copy of John Green’s book. It's classified as a young adult novel but a New York Times reviewer called it “a blend of melancholy, sweet, philosophical and funny” and it won a basket full of awards so I know I’ll---one more time---love the book as much as the movie.

Here’s my nutshell synopsis of the storyline: Sixteen year old Hazel Grace has thyroid cancer that had spread to her lungs and she has to haul an oxygen tank around where ever she goes. Seventeen year old Gus is an x-high school basketball star who lost a leg to cancer. They meet at a cancer support group and they agree to read each other’s favorite novels and they end up using a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to go to Amsterdam to meet the author of An Imperial Affliction---with shocking results. One of them, of course, dies later on but before that happens they both write each other's eulogy. In the eulogy Gus writes he says, “We don't get to choose if we get hurt in this world, but we do have a say in who hurts us. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.” Did I mention that I am smitten with Gus? Ansel Elgort, the actor who played the part, has the most expressive face and eyes and he reminded me of my husband, the early edition. If Ansel needs a grandmother, I’d adopt him in a heartbeat. I’d adopt Shailene Woodley, too, who played Hazel Grace. Those two kids should go far in the movie industry.

I suppose I’ve gushed about The Fault in our Stars long enough so I’m moving on to the lunch conversation we had afterward. The movie, of course, was the discussed and was loved (there’s that word again) by each and every single one of the fifteen of us who attended. We also touched on soap operas and when some of the ladies were having trouble remembering the names of characters they’d been watching for decades, one lady said: “Have you ever noticed that it takes a village to have a conversation at our age? What one of us has trouble remembering, someone else has to fill in.”

Then something incredible happened. Well, at least to me, a woman who has been longing to talk politics in my off-line life. We got on the topics of Hillary, Eric Cantor and cable news and I spoke up as often as the others. Pin a badge of courage on my proud chest! And best of all, no one looked at me like they wanted to say, “Go away. You can’t play in our conservative sandbox anymore.” It was a great conversation with various opinions expressed and respected. And I discovered that at least three others in the group think very much like I do on the political topics we covered.

I don’t have a good ending for this post other than to say this month’s Movie and Lunch Club ended an already great week on an even higher note. ©

My favorite line from the movie:
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”


  1. The Fault in Your Stars sounds very moving. Let us know how you like the book.

    I'm glad you had such a good week and that you found some people you can discuss politics with. As you can imagine, I have some opinions about Cantor. He's my representative.... or should I say 'was'?

    1. I didn't think about you maybe having him for a representative. I wish you'd had been at the luncheon. My representatives is one of his and Paul Ryan's hard-core groupies so our mid-term election will be interesting.

  2. Jean :

    I love the last quote of the movie grief don't change you it reveals you wow thats so true. I want to see that movie but afraid to thinking it will be too heavy & sad. but we will try to watch it when it comes on netflix


    1. It's sad but funny at the same time. I would like to watch it again on something that you can rewind because there were so many great lines in it like the 'grief reveals you.' You will like it because it also has so much in it about attitude of dealing with an illness.

  3. The movie sounds wonderful, but I best order it on-line so I can watch at home. I hate crying in front of people!! Eric Cantor? What can I say--he got a bit too far left of middle I think and the ultra-ultras took him down. It is going to be an interesting year for elections. Actually, I am a moderate Republican and these Tea Party radicals scare the heck outta me.

    1. I don't cry in theaters often. In fact I don't remember the last time I did and it actually surprised me when the tears came.

      Same here about the Tea Party. We need people who can work together in D.C., not obstructionist. It is going to be an interesting election coming up!

  4. Your review convinced me to see the movie. What I love about Hazel is how authentic she is. And I love the way the movie's not a 'rah rah, you're going to beat cancer, beat death' story. It reveals how serious illness changes everything, how it ushers everybody involved out of the mainstream of life and friendships into a side culture, kind of quarantined until and unless... I won't spoil the movie.

    I'm so happy your group had a respectful discussion about a touchy subject - politics. I wonder if walls between people came down and a shared humanity arose because you were all touched by the movie. Seems everyone in politics - no everyone, period - needs to give this movie a look.

    1. Wasn't Hazel charming and, yes, authentic! I'm glad you liked the movie. Your 'side culture' observation is something I didn't think of but you're right. When I was at Amazon to order the book I saw they have study guides to go along with it. Apparently, young adults actually study/disuss this book in classes. If so, it sure would be 'meaty' for that. I can't wait to see my niece this week. She teaches reading and runs a bookmobile and if she doesn't have a copy for the bookmobile I'm buying her one. Did you know the title is a line of from a Shakespeare play, said by Julius Caesar? I hate that title but I found out it's also a metaphor for the cancer in our stars, like a fault line. which makes me at least understand the title better. I could go on and on about things I liked about the movie....the blind kid was a funny little side plot, the cigarette metaphor, the unpredictability way the plot unfolded.

      Very astute observation about our lunch conversation! I do think the movie had an effect on us all opening up. Not a single one of us didn't cry and have our emotions go on a roller coaster that left us admiring the writing and directing in this movie. Conversation flowed so easy afterward.