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, May 22, 2015

City of Champions, Red Hats and Pious Women

I was totally wiped out the day after my day trip to the Underground Railroad on Tuesday. And that wouldn’t do. I still had places to go and things to do the rest of the week before I could hang up my walking shoes. Wednesday my Red Hat Society Chapter went to the small town I'd like to move to someday where we had lunch and went shopping at a consignment mall. I didn’t find a single thing I wanted to buy---thank goodness---but a few others did. One sister can always be counted on to buy a purse at these places and she lived up to her reputation this week. Me, I hate the hassle of changing purses and I only do it for motor coach trips like I did on Tuesday. Then, I use a light weight purse that I can hang around my neck and be hands-free for disembarking and boarding the bus. I strip down on what I carry in that purse to: an ID card, money, comb, lipstick, emery board, Kleenex, my cell phone and a nylon bag that opens up big in case I buy things along the way. My every day purse has everything in it but the proverbial kitchen sink. If logic played a bigger part in my purse choices I’d reverse my options and carry my Healthy Back Bag on trips and the stripped-down purse in town where I can always buzz home, if needed. I have so many things in the ‘back bag’ that I could defuse a bomb or sterilize a port-a-potty.  Slight exaggeration, but I could replace a screw in my eyeglasses, change the batteries in my hearing aids, and apply emergency first aid to someone who just lost a finger---assuming I won’t pass out at the first sight of blood.

Thursday I was on the go again. I went to a lecture titled Detroit: City of Champions about the 1935-36 seasons of the Detroit Tigers, Red Wings and the Lions in which they all won their 1st Championships. The lecturer/author (Charles Avison) was intensely energetic, funny and fun to listen to. I’ve never played sports, don’t follow sports and I was always grateful that my husband and I shared the same level of disinterest. Okay, let’s be brutally honest here; one of my deepest fears is one day I’ll end up in a nursing home with a roommate who follows all the games and she’ll has control of the TV remote. And I’ll be catatonic and unable to scream, “Turn that damn thing down!” That’s how much I dislike hearing games playing in the background. So why did I sign up for this lecture?  If you’re guessing I was trolling for old dudes with thinning hair and pants pulled far up above their belly buttons you’d be wrong. I viewed the lecture as social history and it never hurts to learn something about the hobbies and passions that other people enjoy. 

I got to this lecture twenty minutes early so with coffee and brownie in hand, I sat down a few rows in front of a couple other women who’d just struck up a conversation. Yes, I admit to being an eavesdropper. It wasn’t long before the Woman A asks, “Do you believe in the Lord?” 

“Yes,” answers Woman B and while I’m trying to figure out how I would answer that question in a place where I was not the only eavesdropper in range, Woman A replies, “He’s coming back to earth soon.”

“I know,” says Woman B. 

“I can hardly watch the news anymore,” adds Woman A, “Not since the White House got infested.” I see that phrase often on the website where I go to debate politics and in case you don’t recognize it, that’s code for ‘since a black man got elected.’ In my world you don’t talk that way if you respect the Office of the Presidency. Like Obama or not, like his politics or not, the First Family aren’t roaches that need to be “exterminated from those hallowed halls,” as people like Woman A believe. 

Sensing she may have overstepped a boundary with the stranger she was talking with, Woman A abruptly switched topics to a few years ago when her house burned down and she walked out with just her beloved Bible in hand. “The fire,” she cooed, “was the Lord’s work. Now I have an old lady friendly house that I love.” 

I couldn’t process that her Lord would make a family go through a fire just to give them a new house. My brain was still back on the “infestation at the White House” and I was wondering how someone so pious could be so unaware of her own Sin of Prejudice. To paraphrase the great Sojourner Truth, “Was not the God that made her skin white the same God that made other people’s skin black? Does it not cast a reproach on our Maker to despise part of His children, because He has been pleased to give them black skin?”

I turned around in my seat to take a good look at Woman A. I wanted to memorize every detail of her face, to make sure I never, ever sit next to her on a day trip or at a luncheon or anywhere else that would cause her to ask me, “Do you believe in the Lord?” ©


  1. Wow...that is intense. Seriously I have read about people like her and avoid anyone who attempts to start any kind of discussion that nears that. It makes me wonder where people have gotten such weird ideas...I usually think people have been brought up in that world and fear keeps them from examining any other way of thinking. Fear of questioning ideas keeps a lot of people thinking strange thoughts. And that racial hatred thing is so weird too...how people could continue to believe such things without examining their conscience. The unexamined life and all!

    1. Being brought up in what was known as the "city of churches" I learned the art of avoiding the topic of religion early on in life. But the older I get the more I wonder if that isn't the wrong thing to do. Politeness prevents people like me from challenging people like Woman A in a public place, so does that not make them feel like they are surrounded by like-minded people? I don't know the answer but I do know you can't change people's thinking who are so entrenched in hatred that they can't see it in themselves.

      On one bus trip I did sit next to a very devout lady but she was sweet and sincere and didn't ask me questions like, "What church do you go to?" or "Do you believe in the Lord?" I don't feel the need to avoid her around the senior hall. She's a very nice person but Woman A...I will never be able to get that conversation out of my head when I see her around.

  2. You may have interpreted their conversation from your own view point. #1, she probably doesn't think the White House infestation is because the President is black, but by the way he has led the country. #2--she probably doesn't believe the Lord caused the fire, but that He led her to safety and helped her find a new and nice home. That's the way I would interpret what she said. Now--as for asking her new seating mate if she "knew the Lord" and talking about end times, that sort of thing--that's way too personal to ask someone you've just met. You have a slanted view point on things, and you interpret things you hear based on your own biases--as we all do. (I don't use "biases" in a bad way here.)

    1. You are most likely right on what she meant about the fire. I know certain religions don't blame God for bad things that happen to people. Rather they give praise for getting help from a higher power to get through bad times.

      But I am 200% certain without a shadow of a doubt about what she meant about the "infestation" at the White House. Comparing the First Family to roaches isn't a comment on policies, it's perpetuating the stereotype that when black people move in some place they bring roaches with them. It's a code used in certain places where they can't use the N word without getting kicked off the site. And if you think about the stereotype you'll probably better understand how the code evolved and that you've never, ever heard "the White House is infested" said by anyone who disagreed with the policies of a white president and you never will. It's totally a prejudice thing to say.

      Thanks Judy, for comments and I know you well enough to know you don't mean "biases" in a bad way. We can talk back and forth about serious topics and I always know we both have have a great deal of respect for each other's point of view. We learn from each other.

    2. I never knew that--about the roaches. I do remember my Uncle once referring to the "rat who lives in the White House"--he was referring to Roosevelt. Don't rats go along with roaches? What do I know--nuttin'. I am not street-wise about stereotypes. I didn't meet a black person until I was 24 and in college. I liked all the black people I've met--even dated one for awhile and have never had a prejudice against them. When I refer to the "idiot in the White House", it has nothing to do with the color of his skin. I think I said the same about Carter. LOL True Christians NEVER blame God for bad things that happen because we know, HE doesn't work that way. She probably had an electrical fire or...who knows. Then of course, there is always free will and bad choices that bring a lot of bad stuff into our lives and most of the time, God lets that happen. He gave us choice and free will and He isn't going to step in and change that as along as we continue to act stupid. :-)

    3. I never heard of Roosevelt being called a "rat that lived in the White House." But they did have real ones that lived there until 1948-49 when they did extensive work to replace some wooden framework with steel and concrete that was supposed to take care of the problem. I can visualize Roosevelt complaining about the rats and a cartoonist turning that into an opportunity. Who knows. LOL

      Saying the "idiot in the White House" is quite acceptable in my book. We've had a lot of those over the years. You make an interesting point about not knowing about stereotypes. That might explain how some otherwise good people could be using them without really understanding how/why they are so offensive to others.

      Some Christian denominations do believe in a punishing God. That has never made any sense to me at all.

  3. I've not carried a purse in years. Don't miss it one bit either.

    I don't care for sports either. Hubby doesn't either so thing are quite nice here.

    I remember the left and the hated they had for Bush. I don't see a difference here, although the left has made it a racial issue if we don't agree with Obama. I don't agree with Obama about much of anything.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ☺

    1. I know a couple of ladies who don't carry purses. They wear jeans and jackets with lots of pockets. Probably a safer way to carry money in some places. I'd feel naked without a purse. And the thing I'd miss the most is a pad of paper and a pen. I'm always finding things I want to scribe notes about.

      Politics brings out the worse in everyone, doesn't it.

    2. That's how I carry stuff. People knock you over the head and steal purses around here. Lots of gals have been injured over a purse. Not worth it. I used to carry some mighty fine purses back in the day. I have them, but never carry them.

      Politics is a nasty business indeed. And it does bring out the worst in everyone. I try to avoid it and do much better than when I was younger, but still it gets under my skin from time to time. The politicians love the division over politics. It's what keeps them in office for the most part. :)

    3. I got quite an education about purses when I went to a lecture on traveling overseas. Even here in the States, I would never carry a purse that cost more than a house payment.

      Amen to what you said about politicians.

  4. I would never have thought about the comment of infestation being racial, I would have thought political instead. But then I don't usually think racial. One thing I would like to add to this very thing though is that I think Obama had a fabulous opportunity to bring the races closer being biracial but instead drove them further apart calling himself black. He's as much white as black and I think it's a real shame that we are still worried about skin color.

    Sorry to be away so long, just life getting in my way but it's surely all good!

    smiles, bee

    1. Your comment represents the way a lot of people feel regarding the black/biracial thing. And it's a point of view I struggle to understand because biracial people have been labeled 'black' for centuries by white people, and even by law until recent years. (The one drop of blood rule.) To me, if him calling himself what society had labeled him when he was growing up is enough to drive the races further apart as many claim it's done then it was a very shallow co-existence of the races in the first place. If a label has that much power then I would argue it's the label used in some parts of white society of "monkeys" living in the White House that has drove the races further apart, not the black/biracial label.

      He is also in a no win situation regarding the label, in my opinion, meaning just as many people who don't like him calling himself black would have not like him calling himself biracial.

      Thanks for voicing a commonly held opinion, Bee. Looking forward to more details in your blog about that world class kisser.

  5. I do the purse switch thing too. I'd like to be with you if disaster struck -- your 'heavy' purse sounds like it contains items much more useful than mine!

    Politics is a noble calling -- one which should attract the best and brightest of all citizens working together, even when views differ, to ensure our great Democracy works for all. That it has become "dirty business" bringing out the worst in us demonstrates a broken system, ideologies in charge, and individual voices silenced by money and influence. (Spoken like a true Liberal Democrat? Guilty.)

    Seems like everyone who considers themselves religious or spiritual could haul out their respective teachings on love, acceptance, and helping their neighbor and we could stop the "who's religion is true" wars, the petty mud-slinging, and less petty "isms" of all stripe and be the blessed humans Creation has brought us forth to be.

    I like sports playing in the background...see ya at the Nursing Home!

    1. I would share a nursing home room with you in a heart beat. I'd just invest in a good pair of ear plugs so you could listen to your games. Compromises like that work in my world.

      I agree with every word you've written. I will add that we have to get big money out of politics and overturn that Supreme Court ruling before things are going to chance. The system is broken.

    2. Citizens United has been an enormous blow to our democracy. I'm still stunned about it. I have always been a political optimist -- believing "good will win out". Lately, well, a little harder not to feel like a Pollyanna.

    3. I couldn't agree more if I tried. I think that's why I'm getting a little more vocal about politics (other than on sites designed for debate) than I used to be. Being idealist about democracy IS beginning to sound Pollyannaistic. (I just invented a word.) We can't keep our heads buried in the sand regarding the damage caused by Citizens United.

  6. Yikes! I don't know what I would have done with the infestation remark; I've never heard anything like it before. A few years ago, I did happen onto a wonderful response to the door-to-door proselytizers. I smiled my sweetest smile and said, "Oh, I believe in a very different set of gods than you do." They were back in their car and gone before I even had a chance to draw another breath.

    1. Oh, I have to remember that "different set of gods" line! It would come in handy around here.

      What is scary about Woman A is that I debated about sitting within talking distance to the two women. I was SO glad that I was more interested in eating my brownie and went a few rows up. LOL