Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow, senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Jean

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Home From Surgery

Back home from labrum tear shoulder surgery---labrum anchor put in (think hardware) and labrum 'band" restrung, bone spur removed, and arthritis smoothed out. Will have to wear a sling 4 weeks but can drive in a few days. Very little pain so far and doing good. Got to sleep sitting up for 2-3 nights.

My biggest problem is I screwed up my desk top computer a few hours before I went in---accidentally deleted a driver, can't get it back and can't get on the web without it. Next week I'll arrange a house call from my tech shop because I won't be able lift heavy stuff all winter.

Thanks for all the comments, well wishes, prayers and chants offered! They worked, and best of all my brain still works. I was worried it would come out like scrambled eggs.

And a big thanks to my niece who baby sat me and my others niece for her calls, etc.  They both went home tired from caring for an infant while his mother was getting the same surgery. The DIL had to stay in recovery an hour longer than the norm and I stayed under the norm so we left the place with in 15 min.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Morbid and the Sublime

I had a terrible time sleeping last night. I woke up at 2:00 AM and didn’t have a prayer of falling back to asleep and it was too late to take a sleeping pill and still get up at 7:30. I hate nights like that! My brain wouldn’t turn off. It drifted from one topic to another but mostly I obsessed about my upcoming surgery. Is it really a necessity? Could it have waited until spring? Will the pain and time involved to rehab my shoulder afterward be worth it all in the end? The cortisone shot the doctor put in the joint makes it hard to remember how miserable I was last summer---all the sleepless nights because every time I’d roll over on my side I’d get a shooting pain, the trips to the chiropractor that only gave me relief for a week or so, and the shooting pain I’d get every time I’d push myself up from a chair. I felt like I was 105 years old before the orthopedist gave me the cortisone with a prednisone pack for a chaser. I wish you could live on that stuff, but you can’t without deteriorating your bones and the doctor says labrum tears can't get better on their own.

My youngest niece’s daughter-in-law is having the same labrum tear surgery on the same day as mine, at the same place and my niece is bringing her in. The DIL will be coming out of surgery as I am going in. My other niece will be with me and I’m glad the two sisters will be able to keep each other company for at least a few hours in the waiting area. I hear this surgical center has the best waiting area in town with La-Z-Boy chairs and even a movie theater. I’ll never know. My days of taking people to surgical centers is over now that Don and my dad are gone. Now, I’m on the receiving end and that is a bittersweet place to be. Sweet because someone is willing to do that for me but bitter because I need the help. As we age, aren’t we all afraid of situations like this where we can’t be self-sufficient? I suppose people with children worry less about these things than those of us without.

My ducks are all in a row. I’ve tried to anticipate everything I’ll need over the winter that is up high or down the basement and I brought them to where I’ll be able to get at them. I’ve bought birdseed for the entire winter. Driveway salt and dog food, too, so I won't have to wrest large bags one-handed. My kitchen counter is cluttered with appliances that are usually stored when not in use---toaster, blender, coffee maker and crock pot. I've practiced putting my bra on one-hand. And I've ordered three pair of elastic, no tie shoelaces. The outside work is done. I’ll even have daffodils in the spring. About the only thing I won't be able to with my arm in a sling is get safely on my exercise bike. That and the snow shoveling issue is not resolved. I'll work on that next week, but I've got my little electric snow blower working as a plan B.

Like I said, my ducks were all lined up. Then I got a call from the surgical center asking me to bring a copy of my Living Will with me the day of surgery. Damn it, I don’t plan on dying on an out patient surgery table! Why did they have to bring me down! And what the heck did the medical community do with the three copies they’ve gotten in the past? Supposedly, all the doctors and hospitals in town can share patient information via computers these days. But I played their game and scanned all eight pages of the document, trying not to read the details of my worst case scenario should things go terribly wrong.

Just so you know, I'm not giving away my body or any of its parts after I’m dead. At my age, my body would probably end up laying out in a field for weeks on end so CSI students could study the different types of bugs that crawl all over rotting flesh in different time frames. Bugs help date the death of crime victims. You do know places like that exist, don’t you? They’re call Body Farms. Nope. All medical donations don't end up leading to a cure for some dreaded disease or give would-be surgeons practice time. And that old dog you had as a kid didn't ended up on a farm where he could chase butterflies in the fields either. So this paragraph is the ‘morbid’ in the title of this post...and the sublime? That would be the love of both of my nieces who were both willing to babysit me on surgery day and considering how far away they live this is no small gift of time offered and deeply appreciated.

See you all on the other side of my 'little' event. ©

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Statistics, De-cluttering Houses and Red Hat Society Parties

I like statistics. For example, this blog with its 340 posts since my husband died in January of 2012, has over 121,300 views (not counting my own) and 2,200 comments (counting my own). The post that’s gotten the most views is Another Letter to my Deceased Husband topping out at 5,660 views and the second most viewed post is The True Meaning of our Dreams coming in with 4,315 views. Bloggers overview page doesn’t show the least viewed post but I wish they did. Not that I’d avoid writing about that topic if I knew what it was, but curiosity is my middle name.

I enjoy the blogging community---writing in it and reading what others are sharing about their lives. We are all so different but very much a like at the same time. Like all bloggers, however, I wish more readers would comment once in a while, but it is what it is. Some people can’t make the comment widget work. Some don’t have the time or feel a need to share their thoughts. Others land on one post or another by a Google search that went in a direction they didn’t intend. You can tell when that happens because they only stay on the post a few seconds. Well, enough of that….

I’ve only done two things the last half of this week that are worth writing about. One of those things being I attended a lecture about de-cluttering your house. I went for inspiration rather than how-to information. Unless you live under a rock or haven’t watched day-time TV in the last five years most of us know the process for de-cluttering our houses. Peter Walsh has made sure of that. I am very proud of myself because earlier this week---before the lecture---I took a three foot high stack of my husband’s specialty magazines to recycling. I’d sold a similar stack of them on eBay at five-for-fifteen-bucks a pop plus shipping but it’s a lot of work and I wanted the space on the library shelf for books I’ve accumulated since his passing. Still, it was hard to do because it was like throwing money away…at least in my head and I kept telling myself those magazine served their purposed when my husband was alive and they didn’t owe me anything. I do like the way my library looks, now, without books stacked on the floor. Decorator magazines often show stacks of books used as end tables but they are not practical to live with. The stacks get tipped over with the vacuum and you always seem to want a book near the bottom of the pile.

The woman who did the lecture is a professional, certified organizer and I wouldn’t let her within a 100 feet of my house because she doesn’t have a sentimental bone in her body. If she’d been around to help Thomas and Abigail Adams move out of the White House after his presidency was over all of the letters that Abigail and my ancestor (Mercy Otis Warren) exchanged would have gone in the trash and I wouldn’t be able to read them today in the form of a women’s history book. The organizer would call 1-800-Got-Junk for everything that isn't nailed down, I think. "No one needs a closet full of clothes and a kitchen full of gadgets. Your childhood doll and mother's locket? Seriously, do you really need those? Let someone else enjoy them." What about me? I thought, I still enjoy things from my distant past!

About the only useful thing I got from the lecture---aside from the fact that the woman threw us many laugh lines and I had a good time---came from a conversation I had with a widow in the parking lot who is 17 years out from her husband’s passing. She said, “Widowhood is a wave” and she explained that widowhood sadness comes in and out of your life like waves on a shore, even as far out as she is. “But,” she went on, “you know from experience that the waves will go back out as quickly as they came in and they will never be as high or as often as those in the beginning.” You could tell she’d given that speech many times but I do love the metaphor.

The other noteworthy thing I did this week was go to a birthday party for my Red Hat Society chapter which is marking its eleventh year. For the party we dress to the hilt. (Isn’t it funny how that expression is still around? No one wears ceremonial swords with hilts anymore.) The community room where the party was held has a three story, twelve room Victorian dollhouse and another woman and I sat behind that house rearranging the furniture and tinkering with the electrical system for over a half hour. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. The others had to drag us out to the tables when it was time to eat.

After the party we took cupcakes and cider punch over to a nursing home where we sponsor an unofficial a Red Hat chapter consisting of 45 ladies and 5 guys. There, we also helped our sister chapter play bingo, giving out door prizes to the winners. I was the ‘O’ girl. Whenever the caller called out an ‘O’ number I walked the aisle with a giant queue card that matched the number called. We five card ladies---B-I-N-G-O---looked like fashion models walking a runway only without the high end fashion or the stone, cold faces. What the heck, if you can’t be in entertainment mode at a nursing home, then this world has gotten too boring and reserved. The residents always thank us profusely for coming so all’s well that ends well even though going there is not one of my favorite Red Hat things to do.  ©

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Halloween Luncheon and Quirky Confessions

Working in groups and on committees is not my foray. Oh, I get along fine with nearly everyone. I just put on my go-along-to-get-along persona and try not to get involved in the politics and power trips that always seem to be involved. My latest chance to practice that persona was this week while working on the set-up committee for the monthly luncheon at the senior hall and it got me in trouble. Who would have guessed that a simple task like putting spoons on tables could do that? Here’s what happened: Another person had the knives and yet another had the forks. I followed them down the tables, laying spoons down on the right, next to the knives but I didn’t get very far when I was told that I was doing it wrong, that the spoons belonged on the left side next to the forks. OKaaaay. I was pretty darn sure I was doing it by the etiquette book but I did what I was told. I wasn’t about to start a fight over something that didn’t involve a serious task like defusing road side bombs. Plus I’m dyslexic so why would I trust myself when it comes to rights and lefts?

We had five tables done when another woman came along and was very snippy, telling me I had to do the spoons all over again. The first lady who told me to put them that way and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. Ms. Snippy, not knowing why we were laughing, puffed up her feathers and added that the director of the center “would not approve of the way the spoons were set!” I, of course, wasted no time changing them to the correct location but we were still giggling as Ms. Snippy left the room and I envisioned she was on her way to tattle on the ‘spoon lady.’ I thought about this on the way home and wondered why---when my partner in crime first told me to change the spoon placements---why didn’t I say something like, “You say left, I say right. Let’s ask someone else to break the tie.” Nope, I just went-along-to-get-along. I hope no one ever asks me to help them rob a bank. “Sure,” I’d say, “do you want me to carry the Beretta or the Glock?” When you're a go-along person it's so important to pick your friends wisely.

At least I wasn’t on the sub-committee that picked out the decorations for the tables. They bought miniature coffins. Egads! Coffins for an old peoples’ luncheon? I probably would have had a melt down right in the aisle of the Dollar Store, trying to get the others to go with funny faced-pumpkins and black cats. I pick my fights in the peculiar places, don’t I? Spoons in the wrong place? Whatever floats your boat. Table coffins? World War III. When I was in the working world I decorated banquet tables that numbered literally in the thousands and sometimes I have to sit on my hands to keep from rearranging the table décor at these luncheons. In restaurants, I’ve be known to tweak their fake flower arrangements---a little tuck here, a little curve to a stem there, pull one flower out and pop it in another place. In fact, when my husband was alive we used to go to a little place around the corner a couple of times a week and I tried to sit at a different table each time until I’d rearranged all twenty of their bouquets on the sly. They’d do seasonal swaps and I’d have to start all over again.

Since I’m confessing to embarrassing quirks, about ten years ago whenever I’d go to a big grocery store near-by that has general merchandise departments I’d bring home two or three paint chip sample cards until I had the entire set of 140 colors. Hey, they’re free so is what I did so wrong? It’s the closest I ever came to shop lifting and I had entirely too much fun doing it. I still love playing with those paint chip cards from time to time.

Back on topic: The next day after the spoon caper, when the luncheon took place, I was on duty again as part of my volunteer commitment. I dished out mash potatoes with an ice cream scoop and at one point I joked that I was going to start putting mash potatoes in my bra to keep our assembly line going. Everyone burst out laughing and the lady on butter patty duty called me Lucy. It was crazy, fun dishing up 134 plates and the clean-up after the luncheon and the entertainment went fast with the ten of us on the committee pitching in.

Would I sign up to help with a luncheon again? Sure, in the spring I will. I spend a lot of time around the place and even though there are over 600 members, they’re always begging for volunteers. It doesn’t kill me to play nice on a committee once in a while. But the next time I do a luncheon I want to be the fork lady which begs the question: Why are they placed on the left when most people are right-handed? Google knows the answer and it’s quite interesting how that custom evolved. Hint: It has to do with a period in history when people ate with only one utensil…a knife. ©