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, November 8, 2017

Christmas Gift Shows and Mother Hens



Saturday I went to a Christmas gift show with three of my friends from the Gathering Girls. It was held at the gardens and sculpture park and I’ve been hearing about this show for years. It was huge and hiking in from where I had to park put over 2,000 steps on my Fitbit! It was shoulder-to-shoulder women inside and as I tried to keep track of my companions, I felt my mother-hen persona come out and my baby chicks were getting away. We’d already established at our designated meeting place that none of us had programmed each other’s contact information into our phones and I was mildly panicking that we’d get separated and never see each other again. What? It could happen! Someone with a fetish for mayhem and murder on his mind could have snatched one of us. Our nightly news has been filled with details of a trial going on of a guy who had done just that to a couple of women in town. He’s waiting sentencing now so we were probably safe at the Christmas gift show. That and the fact that none of us are young and cute anymore. Well, a couple of the Gathering Girls are cute but kidnappers usually don’t do ‘old.’ There are very few perks that come with having lots of birthdays, so we need to identify and celebrate them all. But I digress.

Alas, no one got lost although at one point I was seriously worried about one of the ladies. After lunch she and I went to the restroom but she didn’t come back for the longest time. She says she gets lost while driving and she would have gotten lost walking to the restroom if I had not been with her. I kicked myself for leaving her after my business was done. I did tell her I was going back to the restaurant, but what good would that have done if she had gotten lost in the 158 acres of the gardens and sculpture park? Guilt! Thou are my inner voice, my voice of shame. I beat myself up one side and down the other until she rejoined our table. 

Why when I’m hanging around with my posse of Gathering Girls do I feel an overwhelming urge to be the mother hen? They are all fully formed human adults not children or my post-stroke husband who needed my momma-hen persona to survive. I need to kill that ‘hen’ before I turn into a control freak! Why did I have to volunteer, for example, to stand in the long, snaking line to pay for purchases at the show as the others shopped the last few vendors? Was it kindness or was it a passive aggressive way of saying I was ready to leave? I asked that question of my inner voice but I received silence for an answer. Maybe Guilt developed laryngitis? Next stop on the Control Freak Train: Why did I have to volunteer to get our coats out of the coat room downstairs when the others took my place in that pay line? (I didn’t buy anything and I didn’t need to be there.) Was that kindness or controlling or was I being the mother hen again organizing her chicks? Please tell me it’s possible to be all three---a kindly old mother hen looking out for her flock. Doesn’t every group need one?

We had a good time but most of us agreed we’ll never go to a show that large and busy again. We expected more upscale, artsy-fartsy gifts and there were some but also plenty of plants, toys and specialty foods. We sampled chocolate covered everything but ants, drank tiny cups of coffee and I got a kick out of being tagged with a bright green bracelet proclaiming me to be “OVER 21” so I could sample the wines. When I got home I didn’t want to take that bracelet off. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone anywhere where the management couldn’t look at me and take a chance that, yes, she’s old enough to drink. That’s my spin but rules are rules and gray hair and wrinkles don’t count when free alcohol is involved. But seriously, do they really think someone would put on an old people mask and wig just to chug down a few ounces of wine? 

We had lunch in the park’s main building and it was spiced with our classic brand of easy and free conversation. We had planned to stop someplace else on the way back to our end of town and I jumped at seconding the suggestion that we stay there instead. I knew the walk back to the car would do me in. On future outings our newest member wants us to go to a few traffic congested places I avoid like walking barefoot on hot coals. If we do, she’d better take on the role of mother hen so I can be the chick who follows her out of my comfort zone…or into a tragic traffic accident resulting in several of us getting our driver’s licenses taken away. Oh, dear! There’s a law being introduced in our state congress that will require a driving test and a health review of any senior citizen involved in a fender bender. Double oh, dear if it passes! ©

Question: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Answer: I don’t know, let the chicken mind its own business.

24 comments:

  1. LOL at your chicken joke.

    Whether it be friends, relatives, or people in general, groups seem to take on their own personalities. It seems everyone is assigned a role or adopts a role as the group gels. Sometimes the addition or subtraction of one person changes everything. It sounds like you guys are enjoying each other. Every group needs a mother hen. I hate to be in a group where everyone is too passive aggressive to make a decision. It can take all day, and I don't have the patients for it.

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    1. We do have fun and have genuine belly laughs together. I've never been a group that gets along as well as we do. Part of that---I think---is because of our ages and we don't hold much back in conversations.

      I know what you mean about one person coming into a group changing everything. My Red Hat Society group has developed a quirk that the newish queen is forgetting what was voted on and decided. We used to pass around a sign up sheet to each take a month to plan something, for example, and she goes ahead and plans something else as is the list doesn't exist.

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  2. I think every group needs a Leader, or not a thing gets accomplished. After 30 years in the classroom marshaling teenagers, I instinctively slide into the role once I see the group floundering and not getting much accomplished, or worse, other people afraid to make decisions or afraid to possibly hurt someone's feelings by stating a preference.

    But sometimes, it's tiring to keep on Being The One.

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    1. I have seen retired teachers take on that role in social groups and they do such a great job of it. My niece, for example, has such a smooth way of bringing everyone into the fold and ironing out any problems between individuals. Same with the past queen in my Red Hat group. I'll bet it is tiring to be "the one" but I hope you know that people do appreciate you taking on that role.

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  3. Oh what fun to be carded. :-) is it really so bad that you are kind AND perhaps a bit of a control freak or mother hen? I don't hhink so but at our age you need to do what you REALLY want to do as long as it doesn't hurt a soul including YOURS.
    I pray I don't have to take another drivers test. :-)

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    1. I don't think it's too bad either. I just like to write about the thoughts that run through my head and fall out the other side and I was questioning myself at the Christmas show---checking my motives to make sure I wasn't wasn't going over some imaginary line.

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  4. I think you are the perfect blend of friend and mother hen! Not bossy, just helpful and very effective saving time. Keep it up! If someone doesn't like it, they will speak up. Hopefully you all exchanged cell phone numbers ... just in case!

    I'm still looking for Christmas craft fairs here in Portland! When downsizing, Mr. Ralph took the box of Christmas SAVE to Goodwill. I just love the handmade items ... decor, ornaments, etc. But like you, I am looking for SMALL group!

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    1. The first thing I did when I got home was program my phone.

      I remember you telling about that box of Christmas stuff you had from your world travels. I feel your loss.

      In the big complex you live in I'll bet you could start a "Gathering for people looking for friends" and form a group. Anyone who comes you automatically have something in common with.

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  5. Loved the cartoon. Don't be too smug about being off a rapists shopping list. Sometimes they just want someone who doesn't put up much of a fight. See, there is always someone who wants us:))
    If you don't mind the role of leader--go with it. Every group needs one.

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    1. I'm not the leader, no one really is BUT I'm constantly questioning if a side of me is stepping over some line with friendship groups.

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    2. P.S. Thanks, now I have to worry about rapists with old people fetishes. LOL

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  6. Jean :

    I am that directionally challenged person who does get lost coming out of restroom. just last weekend I fot lost after coming out of bathroom had to call hubby to find out which side he parked car snce I went complete opposite side. In my defense I say God made GPS & my husband for that reason for me.
    Asha

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    1. LOL I have a good sense of direction but I could never count on Don being where I left him. If he were still alive I'd tag his wheelchair with one of those new chips you can get for dog collars that allows you to GPS track them.

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  7. Maybe you have a "need to please" issue. Or maybe your wanting to help is from years of helping and keeping track of your husband. Usually I am the one saving a place in line because I have purchased nothing, my legs hurt, and I just want to shoo the rest along to get outta there!! LOL

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    1. I vote for the second explanation. After 12 1/2 years of keeping track of my husband to keep him out of trouble, and before that, 5 years of watching over my dad when we'd be out and about. I'm still in caregiver mode, when a need arises.

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  8. LOL About the over 21 thing. But otherwise, stop beating yourself up! You are an organizer; nothing wrong with that. (said a co-conspirator.)

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    1. It took me two days to throw that green bracelet away claiming I was over 21. I have a warped sense of humor.

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  9. Many years ago, a friend observed one day that I had an "overdeveloped sense of responsibility." As soon as she said it, I knew it was true; I tend to assume that any responsibility that hasn't been explicitly assigned to someone else must be mine. Over the decades since, I have been very grateful to her for pointing it out, because once I was aware of it, I could work to overcome it. Sometimes I try to make sure that someone in a group is explicitly assigned responsibility for X. Sometimes, as in your situation, I just repeat to myself "This is not my responsibility. This is not my responsibility. This is not my responsibility." -Jean P.

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    1. Oh, my gosh, I just did that at the Christmas show...assign/ask someone to volunteer to call those who weren't present about some plans we set for the following Monday. LOL

      Group dynamics is sure interesting. I even find my own reactions interesting because I've never been in such a great group of women before and I want to keep it going. Oh, yes, it's a sense of responsibility I feel but for my own selfish benefit.

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  10. Not to worry Jean, we all appreciate you more than you know. We need a leader and you make a good one.

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    1. Aren't you sweet! I'll give you that $20 I promised you for saying that the next time I see you. LOL

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  11. That one was free---next time I'll charge you. ha ha

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  12. 'Tis the season when I see about a zillion events and outings that sound like fun and then I talk myself out of them because of the traffic and crowds. I often think I'm missing out on all the fun....and then recall that more often than not I'm either disappointment or exhausted by the result of going. Don't get me wrong, I'm not homebound and I pick and choose those things to do that most appeal to me, regardless of the hassles; it's just that I've become very discerning.

    I love that you "Mother Hen" your friends. I do that more emotionally than physically. I'd let you get my coat, then wonder if you feel taken advantage of and how often you feel that way and whether there is something in your past that caused you to adopt that "mothering" trait, and if it serves you to continue in that role.....I'd exhaust both of us with that discussion, I'm sure. LOL It's my personal growth facilitation training. I have to remind myself to turn it off! LOL

    I just renewed my driver's license and was terrified I'd have to take a driving test after the accident I had a couple of years ago. But, nope. Renewed by mail for another 5 years!

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    1. Your second paragraph cracked me up. I swear I'm only 'mothering hening' because if someone doesn't do it, we'd never get anywhere and we're too old to flounder.

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