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, February 25, 2017

Crap, Damn it and Tears!

Can you believe it? I got booted out of the ‘move it to lose it’ class! When I signed in for my first full session with the others in the class a supervisor pulled me aside while Julie, the class trainer, took the others upstairs. Boss Lady said that Julie is concerned that “I won’t be successful” and to get my “money’s worth at the YMCA” she feels I need to start at a lower intensity workout to “reach my personal goals.” Crap! I came very close to crying right there in front of Boss Lady. “It’s your choice” she went on, “but we feel with your prosthetic knees that a personal trainer is a better way go.” Bottom line: For the $150 fee I paid, they’re setting me up with eight half-hour one-on-one training sessions with Julie and she’ll give me homework to do on my own plus I’m to take two, free drop-in classes a week for a lower intensity work out than the paid class I signed up for. In reality, I’m probably getting a better value for my money but still, I hate rejection! They’ve got two dozen drop-in classes---none with a cool name like ‘move it to lose it’---but only seven are recommended for me “at this point in time.” Translation: I’m a wimpy old lady! 

Boss Lady then took me to the strength training circuit room where earlier in the week I got the initial evaluation that I thought I did great on but I apparently flunked it. She designed a program for me to do on the machines, wrote down all the settings I’m to use on each of ten machines. After doing the full program we parted and I hopped on the treadmill. In the future I can take the training sheet of notes out of a filing cabinet and do the program on my own anytime I want. Honesty, I was very upset at getting kicked out of the class but I’m also stubborn and if someone tells me I can’t do something I work all the harder to prove them wrong. Julie better be prepared to be amazed. If you saw the Princess Bride you’ll understand the tone I’m using here on Julie. “My name is Inigo Montaya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”

After I left the Y I came home for a quick shower and off I went again. This time to a lecture on the vintage architecture in our city’s downtown. Over the years, I couldn’t get enough of lectures and tours on architecture but for some reason this one did me in---maybe it was the over-heated room or the fact that I’d gotten up before the sun or that I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch yet. Whatever the reason I was glad when it was over and I was one of the first people to leave the parking lot. I drove to a nearby restaurant and ordered a plate smothered with scrambled eggs, bacon and an English muffin with orange marmalade. Damn it, don’t judge me, I was hungry! If I had wanted to feed the rejected little girl inside me, I would have gone to Culver’s for ice cream. (Not that I didn't think about it.)

I drove home on autopilot, my thoughts as scrambled as the eggs I’d just eaten but when pulled into the garage and turned off the motor, the radio was still playing a Willie Nelson song. My husband was a huge Willie Nelson fan and the song was one of his favorites.

“I guess I never told you
I am so happy that you're mine
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
You were always on my mind.”

At first, silent tears rolled down my cheeks. I miss him! I miss having someone in my life who could have hugged me when I got rejected by a stupid exercise class, who cares when my feelings and pride get hurt. By the time the song was finished I was sobbing loudly and I could hear the dog barking on the other side of the door between the house and the garage. I want to believe he was barking in sympathy, but he probably just wanted the Milk-Bone treat I always give him when I get home and I was taking too long to get inside. Ya, he cares but he's a demanding little bugger. “You were always on my mind,” I guess those words reminded me that my past and future are only separated by a thin, window of fragile feelings. ©

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Move it to Lose it Class

Last week I bought a work-out shirt that has printed on the front: Everything Hurts and I’m Going to Die! I didn’t wear it to my first class at the YMCA on Monday but it sums up perfectly how I felt the day after the hour and a half class. Actually it wasn’t even a real class, it was an assessment of my strengths with a trainer one-on-one. She started out by timing me on a treadmill to see how far I could walk in a 15 minute period while still being able to talk, taking notes on my heart rate---.53 miles with a heart rate of 140 in case you’re comparing your own stats to mine. She (Julie) took notes on everything including my measurements, height, body weight, fat and muscle mass weight.

Weight-ins take place every Monday. Accountability, she said. Yup, I need that. Don’t want it but that’s what I signed up for and I intend to get my $150 worth out of this twice a week, seven weeks long class. She wants me to up my daily calories, though, by 300 calories! That seems so foreign to everything I know about dieting that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that without the help of Starbucks and those naughty boys, Ben and Jerry. Eat more protein, ya, she mentioned that. I have to keep a food journal for the class. Been doing that right along with my Fitbit, I just need to learn how to print a hardcopy off my dashboard.

Julie was pleasantly surprised that my muscle mass was higher than she expected from a sedentary person. Many of her clients, she said, start half way down the scale from where I’m at. Of course, I can’t get cocky about that because two of my future classmates run half marathons. In fact of the three others in the class, I’m the only new comer. I haven’t met them yet but they’ve repeated this same ‘move it to lose it’ class several times so I expect I’ll be the only fatty-fatty-two-by-four among them. I told the trainer that I haven’t run since the '70s, that I don’t even remember how to do it. She was shocked and almost speechless at that admission, but it’s a fact. My secret goal---don’t tell Julie---is to be able to run by the end of summer. Yes, after just one class I’m thinking big, thinking about reenlisting until I’m a one-by-two instead of a two-by-four. That’s just me being me. When I took a marble carving class back in college, for example, I thought I’d be the next Michelangelo. I found out by the end of the semester that it’s a really hard---no pun intended---medium to work in. My brother has my unfinished, female torso in his front yard. I suspect I’ve set my goal too high again for my Spring of Getting Physically Fit but I live by the wisdom of Michelangelo who wrote, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” 

After the treadmill, Julie had me do “the circuit.” Apparently a circuit is a set of machines where you do repetitions for strength training. I was able to do them all. At one I was pulling 70 pounds and I impressed the heck out of myself. Of course, others can pull up to 200 on that machine but at least I wasn’t doing the lower, 25 or 50 weights so I was a happy camper. We had to skip several floor exercises using a giant beach ball designed to strengthen the core muscles because of my prosthetic knees and my extreme fear of not being able to get up off the floor. She gave me some other stuff for my core, saying there’s too much paperwork to do if I get hurt. 

I felt pretty good when I got home. It was the next day when I felt the pain. Julie said she didn’t want me to have so much pain the next day that I cursed her name but enough that her name came up. She achieved that goal. The only real downer came when at one point we were taking about what activities I do to keep active and she asked, "Do you go to church?" I answered, “No” and there was an awkward few moments where I thought about how inappropriate that question was in that setting. It gave me a flash-back to when I paid for private lessons with an art instructor 2-3 years ago and he talked religion the entire time. Too bad, I would have taken more than just the two classes if he hadn’t been wearing his church doctrine on his sleeve. 

I was fourteen the first time I faced weight issues. My mom took me to a doctor who gave me thyroid medication after blowing into his quack, thyroid measuring machine. I was sixteen or seventeen when she took me to a place that wrapped me up like a mummy with mineral soaked cloths and then baked me in a sauna. It makes you loss inches and pounds but it come backs in a few weeks. I couldn’t believe it last year when I saw that fad is coming back around again. When I was in my mid twenties I joined a gym, worked my tail off and had great results. In my sixties, I repeated the gym with great results. I’m hoping history will once again repeat itself. Stay tuned. ©

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fish, Fat and Movie Day: Lion

Guess what I did. I signed up to start a “Move It to Loss It” class at the YMCA. It’s twice a week for seven weeks, and 1 ½ hours each class with a personal trainer and four other classmates. I start on Monday. At the crack of dawn, an hour before the dog and I usually get out of bed. What was I thinking?! I was thinking that fat costs a lot of money. First you pay for the extra food that makes you fat, then pay a gym to help you take the fat back off. Assuming this class doesn’t kill me, we’re supposed to get a taste of every activity in the place and I can’t wait to try the cardio drumming on giant balls. I had to do something radial; all my clothes are getting tight and I refuse to buy a bigger size. I blame Mr. Trump. I’m a stress eater and he’s stressing me out. I hope one of the classes includes kick boxing because I’ll excel at that if I pretend I’m kicking him in his whirlygigs---that’s 1600s British slang for human testicles. Judging by my favorite dictionary---Slangs and Euphemisms---British sailors had/still have the most colorful euphemisms in the world. Gooseberries, that’s another one like whirlygigs that didn’t pass the test of time. And I can see why. What guy wants his family jewels compared to something so small? Did you see what I did there, the “slide of hand” to distract you from the fact that I just admitted I’ve been a very bad girl? I’ve spent the winter fattening myself up like a pig going to the county fair only instead of winning a blue ribbon I earned myself a gym membership. 

Guess what else I did? This is an easy one. I went to another lecture. The speaker was a local poet and photographer who gave a quirky presentation about the beauty of winter and the poems the season inspired him to write. “Observe with open eyes: The glare of white sun reflects the purity of snow. Water in winter rivers sings a colder, older song.” He’s a retired school teacher living his dream---traveling, clicking pictures and pretending he’s the next Robert Frost. We should all be so lucky. When I grow up I want to live my dream. I just have to settle on what that is.

When I got back home from the lecture I felt so guilty about leaving the dog alone on such a bright, sunny day that I threw him in the car and took him to the recycling center, the car wash and the gas station. He was disappointed when I drove past Starbucks without turning in and when I tried to explain calories to him, he gave me a dirty look. I told him to suck it up because he’s got a pound or two to lose himself and his workout boot camp starts on Monday, too. He hasn’t walked the neighborhood since last fall.

The next day I met my Movie and Lunch Club at the local casino club for one of their bi-monthly fish fries, then we were off to see another movie nominated for the Oscar’s Best Picture of the Year, Lion. IMDb sums up the storyline like this: “A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.” And find them he did, using Google Earth to pour over images along the railroad lines looking for landmarks that would ring a bell. It’s a true story, an extraordinary story that spans two continents and three languages. Spoiler alert: This story pulls you in and leaves you crying at the end...with happy tears. In the closing credits, it stated that 80,000 children go missing in India each year. Most of those kids end up living in deplorable conditions and are subject to getting caught up in the sex trafficking industry. The first half of the movie sets that stage and the second half of the movie dealt with the search to find and understand his identity.

I saw an interview of the adaptive mother, played by Nichole Kidman in the film, and she said the whole movie crew and cast put a lot of effort into getting to know her and her family, to portray them and the story accurately. The only thing they got wrong, she said, was her wardrobe. Lion is supposed to be the front runner to get the best picture of the year and I would be happy for all involved in the film if that comes to pass, but I’m still hoping that Hidden Figures gets it instead. Either way, they both deserve high praise.

It’s been a busy week and it’s not over. Today I’ve got to get my shopping done and tomorrow, Sunday, I get to see my family at a birthday party for a one year old. The five babies in the family are breathing new life into the mix and my great-nieces and nephews aren’t done yet. We have three more babies on the way, one is due any day. ©

Movie Trailer for Lion