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, April 29, 2017

If You Could Ask Me Anything…Truth or Dare

I’ve written about my life in such trivial detail that I can’t imagine anyone who has been following this blog would want to know something I haven’t already covered. But I’ll play the game. Lurkers, newbies or long-time readers---it doesn’t matter---hit me with your best shot. (How-to instructions will be at the end.) I will answer anything except questions about bodily functions or questions with answers that could help someone steal my identity. Consider this the blogger’s version of Truth or Dare. 

Have you ever looked at Truth or Dare questions online? Most of them are so raunchy and intrusive I can’t believe people actually ask them at parties, much less in mixed company which apparently is a “thing.” I did find a site---Conversation Starters World---that had a list of “clean Truth or Dare questions” and they’re pretty tame compared to others I’ve seen. Here’s a sample:

- What are you most self-conscious about? (Spelling in public.)
- What would you do if you were the opposite sex for a month? (Cancel my lady-parts appointment.)
- What is the most expensive thing you have stolen? (A dime mother-of-pearl cross when I was a kid.)
- What is the most childish thing you still do? (Get excited over eating ice cream.)
- Have you ever let someone take the blame for something you did? (No.)
- What do most of your friends think about you that is totally untrue? (I have no clue what goes on inside other people's heads.)
- Have you ever cheated or been cheated on? (No and I don’t think so.)

To be honest if I had a teenager who came home and said he/she played Truth or Dare at a party, I’d be alarmed. Back in my day when we played Spin the Bottle the worst that could happen is we’d get kissed. I have memories of an awkward two minutes spent in a dark closet with a boy who was supposed to kiss me but didn’t. Today, Truth or Dare might involve a dare simulating giving a blow job using a cucumber and a question might be, “Do you like it better doggie style or missionary style?” And trust me, don’t google Naked Truth or Dare and I don’t mean Madonna’s line of perfume which might be a nice fragrance with its “warm spicy, floral and woody accords” as its website says, but I would never, ever wear something with Naked Madonna on the label. My favorite perfume, Amazing Grace by Philosophy, has a classy name and I’d probably buy it just for that even if it smelled like Vicks’ VapoRub. I love Joy, too, but I can’t afford to wear it in the land of pension checks and Social Security. It’s $600 an ounce for the real deal these days! Back in the ‘80s my husband bought me a bottle for Valentine’s Day and I used it so sparely that I have a half a bottle that went bad. I still have it and its box, a souvenir now more than a usable scent. 
Truth or Dare is not an invention of our times. A variation of it called “Questions and Commands” has been documented as far back as 1712, and that game is thought to have evolved from games played by an ancient Greek king who commanded his comrades to perform for his amusement. The beat goes on, as they say. At the senior hall Gatherings (for people looking for friends) we always play Truth or Dare without the dares attached. The facilitator passes out questions that we each have to answer and they often lead to delightful or touching stories. Asking questions is the secret to being a good conversationalist. I learned by watching my husband over the years that talking with strangers is easy if you’re not afraid to ask questions. He had good instincts for knowing the right ones to ask and that came from being a well-read, intelligent person who was truly interested in people. Me, I still struggle with timing. I think of the right questions, the right follow-up comments two hours or two days too late.

Anyway, if you could ask me anything, what would it be? Play Bloggers Truth or Dare with me. Post a dare with your question if you wish (or not) in case you ask something I’d be too embarrassed to answer. That could be fun, too, if I have to follow through on a dare and report back on it later on. If you can't think of a question or you're a lurker, I dare you to just make your presence known by sharing the name of the state or country you live in. ©

How to post: Look below for the box that says, 'enter your comment...' If you don't see one, left click on the word ‘comments.’ Next put your question in the box where it says ‘enter your comments…’ . You may or may not be asked for an email address which will not be made public nor will I have access to it. Then check the box asking if you are human and last, click on ‘publish.’ Next, you'll see a message that reads, “Your comment will be visible after approval” which means it will appear when I come along and deem the comment is not spam advertising.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Movie Club, Birthday Party and Brand New Baby

There was a time when I could have written, “The mantel clock struck twelve...” which is arguably a more dramatic word picture than saying my atomic clock’s digital numbers just let me know I’ve wasted the entire morning sitting in front of the computer in my bathrobe. Ohmygod I can be lazy when given the opportunity. One side of my brain tells me I deserve it for surviving the past four weeks of over scheduling myself because I feel like I’m returning home after a long, hard trip down a rabbit hole. At least when Alice came back from her trip down the White Rabbit’s hole she had some interesting tales to tell thanks to her creator, Lewis Carroll, who had an extraordinary imagination---or a good supply of psychedelic drugs. Me, I have neither one at my disposal. And what’s the other side of my brain telling me? It’s doing a constant drum beat: Life is too short, use it or lose it! Nothing new to see here, move along little doggies, move along.

Since I last sat down to write a blog post, I’ve been out with my Movie and Lunch club, to a family birthday party and to the gym a few times. The movie we saw was Going in Style, a remake of a 1979 film by the same name starring George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg. You know you’re getting old when you can remember the original movie almost as well as the one you just saw a few days ago. The new version stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Joey King and they threw Ann-Margret into the mix so they could add a senior sex scene. (At least they didn't make us look at them nearly naked.) If you’ve seen the trailer for the movie you’ll know it's about three old guys who plot and carry out a bank robbery. In the original version they did it to add excitement to their lives; in the remake they did it because the bank dissolved their company’s pension funds to pay off the company’s debts which put a darker twist to this “comedy” that was a little too real for me, having survived almost losing our pension during the banking meltdown a few years back. I wouldn’t recommend the movie if you pay night rates but we only paid $5.00 for a matinee and it was worth that much. Although I must disclose that others in our group of twelve gave the film a higher rating than I did. What I liked, though, was the opportunity to go to an oriental restaurant afterward and get almond boneless chicken. I miss oriental food since my husband is no long in the picture. We’d pick it up at least once a week. Now, even that close-by take-out restaurant is gone.

Guess what I tried to do at the birthday party for one of the newly minted two year olds in the family? I tried to jump a hop-scotch pattern drawn with pink chalk on the driveway. I did okay until I got to the part where I would have had to hop on one foot three times, then bend down to pick up the stone marker. No way could I do that even though my balance is improving since I bought a balance board. I tried to talk my older brother into trying the hop-scotch grid but he accused of wanting to get him into trouble like he claims I did when we were kids. (It was the other way around.) He recently got a new bathtub and he brought the empty box over to the party with “doors” and “windows” cut into it. The kids loved it for a while then the little balls of energy were riding tricycles and pulling wagons and marking up the cement with colored chalk. Some things never change. I’m impressed by the millennium parents I’m seeing lately. They are in patient teacher mode all the time or maybe it’s just the age of the children I’m around who are all at an age where the entire world is just one big learning tool. The oldest, a three year old is learning how to shake hands when he meets people and he does it like a pro. 

I just got a call from my brother letting me know that we have a brand new baby in the family---the boy I’ve been wanting to carry on the family name. They named him Levi…yes, the same as my dog. My brother named his first born after our family dog-at-the-time. Does that mean another family tradition was born along with this baby? The parents and grandparents, I’m told, all thought I’d get a kick out that. Little do they know but Levi my Might Schnauzer is not the only Levi in the family. Shake our family tree and both the first and middle names of our newest baby will fall out. How cool is that! ©

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Memory and Brain Farts

Have you ever run into someone who seems to have a luminous aura, like they know stuff the rest of us don’t? If a person is pairing their I’m-at-peace-and-you’re-not look with a Mona Lisa smile they don’t even have to talk. I’d like to develop that quality…not because I know stuff that others don’t---no way is that true---but I’d like to develop that look to cover up the fact that my language skills are waning. It’s alarming when I open up my mouth and the wrong words come rolling out. For example, I was sitting in the doctor’s office this week and four or five times I spoke using the wrong-but-similar words, like someone who needs hearing aids will hear ‘feet’ instead of ‘street’ or ‘cat’ instead of ‘fat.’ I corrected myself on the spot and hopefully I caught all of my brain farts but the more often things like that happen the more timid I get about talking in public. I figured I wasn’t having a TIA or the doctor and his wanna-be doctor-in-tow would have said, “Hey, lady, we need to get you to the ER. STAT!” At one point I made a joke about my tongue not working right but just between you and me, I knew better. I was having bona-fided brain farts right in the middle of my Medicare Wellness Exam.

What’s worse than these “brain farts” or malapropisms is when someone asks me a simple question like, “What have you been doing to keep busy?” and my mind goes blank. That happened twice this past week. Once at the butterfly exhibit when my niece’s daughter-in-law---who says she has trouble making small talk---asked me that question and couldn’t come up with one single example from my busy schedule. It was such an awkward moment! I felt badly for her. I felt badly for me. She was trying to make small talk and I couldn’t hold up my end. Then again when I got my teeth cleaned yesterday, the hygienist asked me what I’ve been doing lately. She’s used to me rattling off a string of stuff but all I could come up with was a fancy lunch down at the culinary college and that took place several weeks ago. What happened to all the stuff I’ve been doing since then? Where the heck did the Memory Fairy dump those events? I'm guessing in a dark corner of my brain that won’t be accessible until someone asks me if I want gravy on my mash potatoes.

It’s not enough that we have to worry about joints that need replacing, eyelids that need lifting for better vision, moles that grow in strange places and nipples that point toward the floor we also have to worry about losing our marbles! At least I do. That cluster of brain cells that stands guard over my memories is being a cranky child, intent on embarrassing me when I least expect it. I think it would be a good idea for me to go to one of those retreats where silence is required, assuming they have mirrors available. I could work on looking luminously radiant from a spirit within and pretend I still remember me. Remember me! I do need to remember me, more specifically that I’ve never had a good memory for the places I’ve been. Case in point: Back in the ‘80s while on our way Out West my husband stopped at a restaurant that I absolutely loved---the décor, the menu, the view---and when I expressed my joy at finding such a wonderful place he said, “It wasn’t hard. You loved it the last two times we were here.” My bad memory for the places we’d been before was notorious but when you’re young quirky personality ticks like that are no big deal. But when your hair turns gray your memory ticks turn into telling lies on your Medicare Wellness questionnaire. “Nope, nani, nah, nda, nahi, no way do I forget stuff, Doc! Who told you that?”

When I turn the page on my day planner putting April in the past, my over-booked life will be behind me until October when I’ll do it to myself all over again. No more getting up at six or seven and falling asleep before my head hits the pillow at midnight. No more living by a schedule that would put the White House Director of Scheduling and Advance to shame---yes, that’s a real thing. No more waking up in the morning and before getting out of bed saying something like: If it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium. I’m hoping my brain farts are just a symptom of exhaustion, of trying to do too and not from having my gray matter cluttered up with too much junk like obscure romantic comedies featuring American tourists in Europe. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could clean out our brains like we do our computers---save this, delete that, reformat the space and send the whole kitten kaboodle off to a geek when it needs fine tuning. ©