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

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Around the World and Back to Old People Land

This month’s presentation at the travel club was titled, “The Best of the Hawaiian Islands.” I always thought if I ever take a trip with this group it would be to Hawaii or Alaska, their only U.S. destinations to date but I just found out they’re adding a Western National Parks trip by train and an Eastern Seaboard trip in 2018, the latter appealing to me if it goes to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Those places have been on my Bucket List since before the moon landing. The two sisters who run this travel escort service markets mostly to seniors and I know many widows who have traveled with them. I trust them to take care of their clients. Unfortunately, the sisters prefer two week trips to places like Peru, China, Russia, Scotland, Iceland and other interesting places but in this age of international terrorism and long, security checks at airports they would over-tax my physical endurance. But going to travel club presentations is a great way to “see the world” and I should thank an old boyfriend from the early ‘70s for introducing me to the concept, even though as a dating destination back in my early twenties travelogues were a bit odd. He, as it turned out, was a deep-in-the-closet gay back in those days but, gosh, I loved that guy. To this day, he still goes on a yearly adventure aboard while I’ve only been to Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. Boohoo. It’s too bad we can’t take the best qualities from our past relationships and build ourselves a new playmate.

The Hawaiian Trip cost $5,375 for ten days and nine nights, all-inclusive if you don’t mind only eating ten breakfasts and five dinners while you’re gone and having three days---one in Honolulu, Kona and Maui---to plan your own adventures on your own dime. (The other days are group excursions.) The bottom line: If you’re widow yearning to travel there are clubs and escort services around for us. It just takes a little time going to travelogues to build up your confidence in a service by meeting their repeat clients. Who knows, maybe one day I'll lose my head, plunk down a down payment and joint the cool people with colorful stickers on their luggage.

Have I mentioned balance class lately? No? This week we got a demonstration on how to get off the floor if we fall. Not sure if I can do it with my fake knees and I’m not going to try it until someone visits that can help me up off the floor if I can’t. We also had a dorky role playing session where one person had to read positive responses to negative statements read by another person in the group. The facilitator wanted me to go first but I shocked myself when I replied, “No! I’m dyslexia and I don’t read out loud.” I’ve thought it many times and but this is the first time in my entire life that I've ever said that. Usually I just stumble through, feeling embarrassed if my reading doesn’t come out fluidly. The facilitator went to the next person without missing a beat and I thought, Wow, that felt good! But it does worry me that over the summer I’ve been hearing myself say things that my younger self wouldn’t have said. That filter in the brain that keeps me from blurting out the first thought that comes to mind is starting to deteriorate which seems to be fairly common as we age, but I don’t have to like it.

Aging is not a spectator sport. Old people issues take up a lot of time and energy, don’t they. This week I had to see the audiologist for the yearly check up on my hearing aids---cleaning and adjusting the volume. I’ve been wearing them for three years, now, which means at the end of the month the warranty no longer covers them if they get broken, damaged or lost. Insurance costs $350 a year, but if you don’t get the insurance it costs $350 to send one back to the factory, if needed. I opted to take my chances and not to buy a policy from the I-Don’t-Give-a-Rat’s-Ass Insurance Company. I don’t have an ear wax problem and I don’t lose things or leave the aids down where the dog can turn them to chewing gum like my husband used to do. The biggest problem I have is my ears itch inside with the aids in. The audiologist told me I have very dry skin inside my canals and to get some hydro-cortisone anti-itch cream, put some on a Q-Tip and put a thin layer inside my ears at bedtime for a week. One more cream, one more potion or old people powder and I’m going to need a bigger medicine cabinet.

On the way home I took myself out to lunch and my turned-up hearing aids allowed me to eavesdrop on a conversation going on two tables away. One woman was telling another how she fell for the scam where someone calls and tells you your computer is being attacked by a virus. She ended up giving them her credit card number and access to remotely control her computer. Long story short she was lucky she told her son about it immediately afterward who knew it was a scam. He helped her close her credit card, file a police report and clean up her computer. It’s a scared world out there and you don’t even have to leave your house or the country to be in harm’s way. ©

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The End is Near---no, not that one! Markets and Madness

The farmers market in the fall is a different place than the beehive of activity it is in the summer. It wasn’t just the sparseness of shoppers and fewer tents lined up against a backdrop of fall colors along the river. It was also the sight of vendors wearing knit hats and gloves as they sipped on steaming cups of coffee. The sweet aroma of the kettle corn maker, the baker and the flower vendors still filled the air but in place of vendors selling cucumbers, corn, peppers and tomatoes were tables overflowing with squash, pumpkins, root vegetables and apples. Instead of tender plants for gardeners were bulbs and potted mums. I bought cinnamon bread, heads of broccoli and cauliflower plus carrots and squash to hold over the winter (wrapped in newspaper and stored in the garage). I was going to buy a bouquet of mixed cut flowers but I fell in love with huge stems of cut ornamental kale and I bought three in dark lilac fading to soft mauve. 

One more week and the market will close and I’ll go back for potatoes and maybe breakfast at a nearby place that was a favorite of my husband’s. It’s a terrible place to get into with a wheelchair but the market people who frequent the place always went out of their way to help with the double doors. Don never seemed to notice how many machines dispensing gumballs and newspapers people had to move out of his path. All he ever saw was their friendly, smiling faces. It was a gift not to notice the inconveniences of going to that old, tourist town restaurant because that sort of thing tends to make a lot of disabled people stay at home. I suppose it was because Don, the master storyteller in his pre-stroke days, was used to being the center of attention. I, on the other hand preferred then, as I do now, to be like a camera drone recording life from a safe distance. And from my bird’s eye view I’m happy to report that most people show kindness when it counts. Motivational speaker and author Steve Marabholi wrote: “It only takes a split second to smile and forget, yet to someone that needed it, it can last a lifetime.” Boy isn’t that a fact! Look how long I’m remembering the time and place of warm smiles and small gestures of kindness. 

On the opposite end of kindness is the meanness that has become part of our current election season and aren’t we all glad that, like the farmers market, the end is near. Am I alone is sensing a shift in hostilities? People have made up their minds and in some cases have already voted. Soon, Facebook will no longer challenge my willpower and self-control to not get involved in nasty political exchanges with some in-law family members. One woman in particular has spent months posting extremist, hate-filled and offensive stuff but this morning I thought someone must have hacked her account when she posted a meme that read: “The less you respond to negativity the more peaceful your life will become.” I read that over several times and spent a full two minutes trying to decide if I should hit the key that would publish a response I had typed that read, “The less a person posts negativity the more peaceful everyone’s life will become.” In the end, I back-spaced my catty words off the reply box and left. Many people unfriend someone who bugs their sanity and temps them to leave civility behind but that’s not my style. I like to have my finger on the pulse of what family thinks…recording it like that camera drone overhead. But I will admit I no longer feel an ounce of warmth toward this woman…and all because of this election!

“Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Those words roll around inside my head, telling me I should have taken a stand on Facebook starting months ago, but my silence was insurance against getting turned down if I should ever need a ride to a med station or the hospital. I live close to In-Law Land so my silence was self-servicing and I’m not proud of that. If I do give in before the election and post a Facebook response to the “great, white hopes” of a Trump presidency or an armed resistance if he doesn’t win, I hope it will be something polite like the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The fate of America cannot depend on any one man. The greatness of America is grounded in principles and not on any single personality.” Can you tell I just got a new book titled, The Best Liberal Quotes Ever? ©

The photo at the top is of the fall cornucopia on my dining room table. I know they’re hopeless out of fashion but I’ve been making them since the early ‘70s and I still love them. The scarecrow below is on my front door and the four foot wooden trencher is along my breakfast bar. (If there isn’t a holiday around, the trencher gets filled with stones and fossils.) And last but not least are my farmers market cut kale.