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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dreams, Lighthouses and Moving

If dreams are a window into our subconscious thoughts then I must be obsessed with toilets and my husband. I often wake up during dreams where I’m looking for a bathroom. It might be in a building with a hundred doors to open or I might be looking in a house of hallways with no doors at all. It’s not hard to figure why these reoccurring dreams happen because I wake up with an urgent need to pee. As for my husband, the past few months I’ve dreamed of him nearly every night and I can’t figure out why. I did that at the beginning of my widowhood but those dreams got farther and farther apart until it would only be a night or two a month when he’d come to me in my sleep. 

Last night was the first time when I dreamed about toilets and my husband in the same dream and it was freaky because he was doing something I hadn’t thought about or seen done in nearly fifty years.  Back then, I remember seeing women take dirty diapers---the old clothe kind, not the paper ones like they use today---and hold them tight at one end while flushing the toilet to clean the solid waste out of them. Having never been a mother, I never did it myself or if I did I was babysitting and it wasn’t very often because over the years I developed a rule: I don’t babysit any child who isn’t old enough to say, “My stomach hurts. I want to go to the hospital.” 

Anyway, in my dream Don was in the bathroom holding various things over the toilet bowl and flushing---ordinary clothing and hand towels, etc. I asked him what the heck he was doing and he said he was doing the laundry. Sure enough, sitting on the floor was a pile of wet, soggy stuff. That’s when I woke up, aghast that he would do such a thing. I cannot figure out where this random diaper memory came from and why all these years later it appeared in my subconscious thoughts. And as for Don doing the laundry, the man barely knew where the washing machine resided in the house. His idea of doing the laundry was to pack it up and drop it off to a laundromat where an attendant would do it for him. He could drive and repair any piece of heavy equipment on a military base or on the road but a washer and dryer was above his pay scale, as they say. I think one time he tried doing laundry and he got the classic, pink underwear of a beginner and he never tried doing the laundry again. 

This week I went to a lecture titled, “Ladies of the Lights.” It was presented by an energetic speaker from a group that promotes Michigan’s tourism industry. It was about forty women who were lighthouse keepers on our Great Lakes, dating back to the 1840s. (We have thirty lighthouses within 100 miles and about a third of them are on islands.) She read diary excerpts from some of these lighthouse keepers and, boy, were those passages engaging! When you think about the cold, ice and snow we’ve had this winter and how it can isolate us in our homes, can you image being in a lighthouse in the decades before the internet, TV and even telephones were invented?  It was a fascinating lecture and one I’d recommend to anyone who gets a chance to see it as it moves around the Great Lake states. I can’t wait until her next lecture in the fall when she’s coming back to do one on haunted lighthouses. 

I just realized I’m signed up for a day trip next week, to go to a large antique mall near Lake Michigan in my favorite tourist town of Saugatuck. When I signed up, March sounded so far away and warm and spring-like but it’s still supposed to be cold and snowy. Great. If you hear about a highway pile up in West Michigan think of me. I don’t like being on the highways in the winter! If the weather turns out to be bad enough to close the schools, though, the trip will get rescheduled. Our senior hall bus is housed and maintained by the school district, even though we raised the money last fall to buy it and pay for its upkeep. This will be my first time riding on it. In the past we’ve always rented buses. But through the winter they’ve used the new bus to go to plays, musicals and other productions downtown which aren’t my thing but I mention them here because senior halls “can be” a wellspring of activities at a reasonable, no profit-built-in price. 

And that fact makes it so hard when I think about moving to the other end of town. I’ve checked out the senior hall activities down there and they can’t compare to what’s only five minutes away up here. Oh, they have the card games, exercise classes and the crafts the same as we do up here (that I don’t take part in) but they don’t have the lectures and day trips that I like the most. I’ve been driving myself crazy weighing the pros and cons of moving closer to my family. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’d have to find a pet friendly, zero-steps condo community that has planned activities to balance out what I’d be losing in my social life up here. So far, I’ve only found one community that checks all the boxes and I’m not sure I can afford to live there. When the weather gets nicer and I can do their tour, I’ll find out more. Too many “ifs” and “buts” to make this old widow sure of anything! ©


  1. When I had my son disposable diapers were available and I used them. I've seen many do the diaper thing though. What a job. Babies are fun though.

    Moving is a big thing. You'll figure it out. You just have to make sure it's what you want. Very sure.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. I'm glad you shared that, Sandee. I didn't know if the 'diaper thing' was just a regional thing of more wide spread. Baby care and the products available sure have changed over the decades. It's been fun watching the new parents and grandparents in my family.

  2. How odd, Don doing something so completely out of character. Sounds like a 'Take what you like, and leave the rest' kind of dream. Least it's crap he's flushing away, and not the family jewels. It's really not Don but you flushing away, isn't it? since we are all aspects of our dreams.
    Jean, you get so energized by these lectures! Do you get that jazzed by your family? It's a shame it might have to be one or the other, but I love the way your imagination is working overtime at night (with Don'ts invaluable help) to figure it all out.

    1. I don't want to move closer to family to get entertained or "energized" by them. I want to be closer because it will be easier for them (and me) as I age and may or may not need their help. For example, when I had shoulder surgery and it required one of my niece's to stay over night and that may happen this summer as well. The easier it is for my family to support me in my own home as I age the longer I'll be able to live outside of assisted living, etc.

      Don wasn't flushing crap (or anything else) away. He was "washing" clothing, big difference when you interpret a dream. Actions, not setting, they say, is what matters. I really yelled at him for trying to be "helpful", so I'm thinking that's another big clue.

  3. Jean,
    You are so fortunate to have so many options at your senior hall. We don't have anything like that around here. I'm beginning to look at nearby counties that may have more options like yours.

    What a dream. I remember dumping the diaper poop in the toilet, but I never washed them in the toilet. :) Mine was the last generation who bothered with cloth diapers. Disposable diapers came along very soon after my son was born and the rest is history.

    You have quite a decision about whether to move or not. That seems to be the fact. We go along for a while and then we have to make yet another decision about how we want to live. We are trying to think about every eventuality. What if this? What if that? We all want to be independent as long as possible.

    1. There are three senior halls in the area that have a LOT of great stuff but then there are 2 others that don't have much at all. These places, here, are funded by township tax millages which accounts for the differences. Plus we have a director who really cares about growing the programs. I am lucky!

      The best thing I have going in the moving department is the fact that I don't have to move, so there is no pressure to meet a deadline. I'm just hoping the more I look at the issues, the more clarity that will come.

      I'm pretty sure they didn't actually wash diapers in toilets back in the day, just rinse them out to put them in a diaper pail to wash in the machine later on. Sure must have been a lot of work!

  4. We dumped the poo into the toilet bowl, hit the flusher and rinsed the diaper while the water was rushing, then dropped it into a pail filled partly with water and bleach and still it stunk. Disposable diapers were invented just as I had my youngest, but she was allergic to the plastic, so I couldn't use them. I too have the bathroom dream and get in a real panic when I can't find a public restroom. On dream, I found and had to use an old outhouse while people looked on because three sides of the outhouse were missing. Make your Pros and Cons list and think about it--you still have a lot of time to think about it. Maybe a Condo would be nicer for you--if they allow Levi's. You probably would meet a lot of widows and they would know of all the activities in the area.

    1. An out house with three sides missing sure beats any bathroom dream I ever had and I've had a variety.

      I remember how much those diaper pails smelled! Worse that a cat pan before they developed better kitty litter.

  5. It is interesting to read about your dreams. I have always been a good sleeper and I wake up in the morning with no memory of what my brain is doing at night. The only time I have a hold on what was stirring is if I am woken from a deep sleep early. I am a day dreamer though and I have sat through many concerts where I can't recall much of the music because my mind was elsewhere (and I don't usually know where!). I lose the concentration on the music but it is very pleasant!
    I have high hopes for March in the weather department!

    1. I do my share of day dreaming, too, and music sure seems to facilitate that doesn't it.