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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Love Letters and those that Aren’t



“Windows down, country sound, FM on the radio, Just me and you and the man on the moon, Cruisin' down some old back road…” Ever since I heard Rhett Thomas singing those words on my XM satellite radio, I can’t get it out of my head that I want to write a love letter to my husband which is strange on several levels, the least of which is the fact that he’s been dead for five and a half years. But the main reason it’s strange is because when he was alive I never wrote a love letter to him. Notes scribbled in greeting cards, yes, but not the rambling kind of letter listing the reasons why I loved him or containing a dissertation on why we were good together ending with a declaration that I’d never stop loving him. Oh, I’d written letters to him but I only wrote them when something in our relationship was bothering me and I wanted to put my all thoughts in a format where they’d be heard…really heard. In full. No interruptions. And those letters usually became tools for us to work through a misunderstanding or whatever “sugar pea” I had stuck up my nose and couldn’t see past. 

After Don had his stroke and we were in the process of moving, I had to empty out his desk and I was surprised to find a file folder containing seven of my letters---probably every one I’d ever written to him. Imagine that, a whole folder full of what I perceived as being wrong between us. Anti-love letters, so to speak. I kept them until last year when I decided they did a disservice to our forty-two year history together, didn’t represent our relationship as a whole. It still bothers me once in a while that I destroyed them because---for one thing---that act was an admission that I’m going to join him in the Great Unknown sooner rather than later and someone else could have ended up reading them. There was nothing shocking in the letters. There were no villains or long suffering heroines in our story, we were just dealing with normal life stuff---yadda, yadda, yadda to the very end when Don’s dying words to me were, “Love you.” But there was nothing in that folder for balance. Nothing to show the Yin to my Yang, the seasons of contentment to my winters of discontent. 

Widows are often accused of putting their husbands on pedestals that no living man could ever compete with and while I do believe it’s true with a lot of widows who start dating too soon (in my opinion) I don’t think that’s what I did when early on after Don’s death I made a conscious decision to only write about him in a positive light…the pedestal so to speak. I know he was human with human failings and foibles like the rest of us, but he was first and foremost a good man, a man of honor and honesty. A hard working man who loved me enough to let me be me, who provided the security I enjoy today and who made me laugh far more often than he made me cry. Lately, songs I’ve been hearing on Prime Country XM have been flooding me with overwhelming feelings of gratitude and love. I wish I could hug Don one last time and whisper all those feelings in his ear so they’d quit chasing each other around in my head like a puppy trying to catch his tail.

The song mentioned above, Make Me Wanna, with its line about getting “drunk on you with no alcohol” makes me remember in vivid detail that new-love, I-had-him-at-hello feeling but what’s out there to help us remember old-love, like fine wine, that gets better with age? Kenny Rogers’ Through the Years comes close but while it does conjures up a deep appreciation for the longevity of relationships, hearing it often makes me remember the sadness of kissing Don’s lips moments after he died and whispering, “Until we meet again.” Where is the song that mimics what’s in my heart?

Maybe instead of a love letter I should write a song, one that goes something like this: “If I could, I’d write you a country-western love song, one that makes me feel the warmth of your arms around me when it comes through my Sirius radio, one that tells the world how grateful I am that you were you and I was free to be me and together we two traveled side-by-side along the bumpy roads of life, always looking for the breathtaking views, always helping each other reach our goals.” If I only could, I would. But song writing is a skill set I don’t have so, Don, if you’re out there somewhere and can read the thoughts in my head, please know that someday I will write that love letter, the one that ends with a declaration that I’ll never stop loving you. ©


24 comments:

  1. How wonderful it is that you had that kind of relationship with Don. Few (if any) decisions are as consequential as choosing a life mate.

    I never thought about it before, but you're right about there being a dearth of songs that capture the depth and spirit of a long, enduring love, a love that doesn't falter when times get tough. I guess they go for the younger demographic. Young love sells, and maybe it's easier to write about that breathless, yearning kind of love.

    This post is a lovely slice of your love for Don, and his for you. He would be moved. I was.

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    1. I would think songs about young love are easier to write as are break up songs. Emotions are high and you want to get them out.

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  2. A handsome man - and honest and upright. You were lucky!

    I just think I have him with me all the time now, in my heart. I know his reaction/response/advice to pretty much everything that life throws at me now. My only consolation is that he went before me - glad he didn't have to face old age alone, like me. ~ Libby

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    1. That's true for me, too. Don still influences me every day.

      He was a good looking guy, wasn't he. He spent a lot of time outside and tanned easily.

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  3. That really is very sweet. Thanks for sharing it.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I even shared it on Facebook and I've only done that five times out of all the blogs I've written. I wanted people who knew us both to read it. The responses were heart-warming.

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  4. This is a great testament to the depth and maturity of your love for your husband. You don't just think of yourself and your loss; you are thinking of his Legacy and your lives together.

    The best marriages are ones in which the partners lift each other and bring out the best in each other. Clearly, Don is still doing that today. It's not so much grief as it is honor.

    This is an inspiring post as well. Beautifully written.

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    1. Exactly, it's not grief at this point in time, it's about honor and legacy. I don't know where it comes from but I've always been concerned with legacy long before I even met Don. Probably an over exposure to genealogy, tagging my mom around to courthouses and listening to my dad and mom's stories about family.

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  5. Lovely post.
    You sound much better than you did when I first joined you. I'm glad.

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  6. You said it for a lot of us out here and you said well. Love your blog Jean because you really get it. Thanks again.

    Denise in NC

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    1. That means a lot coming from you. Thanks.

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  7. Yes he was a handsome man with kind eyes. That you only had seven letters in all the years you were married shows how strong your marriage was and that the letters were written at all show how important it was to you to keep that marriage comfortable. I'm sure he knows what you want to say. He is just reminding you in those songs of his feelings for you.

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    1. I only found seven letters. He might not have kept them all. I'm guessing there could have been a dozen?

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  8. I don't think love letters ever go out of style. So DO write one. Write one every year! It's a fun way to put your heart in touch with your words.

    While Mr. Ralph is not atop a pedestal, he's pretty high up there, even when he was here. A man among men. Benevolent is my favorite adjective for him. Honor and legacy should be kept alive!

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    1. I kind of this this blog turned out like a love letter.

      "Benevolent" is a good word! I might have to borrow it. We were both lucky, we're we.

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  9. How nice to see a photo of Don after he had a few years on him! Nice looking yes, but decent, kind and honest are what make a relationship satisfying. Doesn't hurt to have a little eye candy with the package however!

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    1. Sometimes I forget how good looking he was in his prime.

      Love the art work on your site! Looks like you have some great shows at the musuem.

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  10. Very lovely man and husband to you.
    I think honesty, trust, loyalty and kindness rate at the very top of my list, I was lucky to find it once, in a man.
    I've been thinking a lot about Fred lately. I wonder if there is some critical point at 5.5 years? Something we didn't study about in our widow classes?

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    1. Since Fred and Don died so close together that is interesting that we've both been thinking a lot about them in recent weeks. I didn't have any widow classes but you and I have always tracked in our emotions, I think.

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  11. Jean:

    Don was very handsome man. reading your love-stories &blogs remind me that even though mine was arranged marriage I also got very lucky in marrying right kind of guy who have always encouraged me to be me & have help me become person I am so proud of today. you both were very fortunate to have each other in their life.

    Asha


    Asha

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    1. Way back when we first met through the stroke community I always thought you were lucky that you got a good guy, which is truly amazing considering you didn't get to pick him out. We both have a lot to be thankful for, don't we.

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  12. I am a widow too and am glad I found your blog. My husband died less than a year ago so the pain is very fresh. We were married 45 years and my hubby was a great guy.

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    1. Thankfully, none of us have to go through that first year twice. The pain does easy up with time. Blogging really helps me with that process so I'm always glad when other widows find something in it that relates to their journey as well.

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