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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Germaphobic's Trip to the Grocery Store

Saturday I figured I was out of the contagious stage of my norovirus or stomach flu---whatever label that correctly applies to having a fourteen hour long episode of vomiting and diarrhea followed by two days of holding the bed mattress down. I hadn’t eaten much since the “event” plus I purged most of the contents of my refrigerator just in case there were germs creeping round inside the deli containers and on the fruits and veggies ready to jump out attack me again. I bleached the heck of that appliance and I disinfected everything I’d touched around the house. I even threw out my lipstick, Chap Stick, toothbrush, lanyard, shower puff, toilet brush, slippers and assorted clothing and I washed all my cloth grocery bags because I’ve heard they’ve been known to be a safe harbor for germs. Call me paranoid but I never want to be that sick again.

I needed a trip to the grocery store. I was out of everything plus I needed some probiotics because Dr. Google said they would help to get my system going again. Before I left, I wiped down everything inside the car that I might have touched before I got sick because I was sure I was fitted with special lens in my glasses that allowed me to see viruses and germs EVERYWHERE. Once at the store I attacked wiping down my shopping cart like it was a metal slab in the morgue. Normally I love grocery shopping and I’ve never been germaphobic there but this time was different. I noticed everything. When I saw an employee spraying cleaner inside an empty meat case I thought, Oh, no! They know they’ve selling viruses and germs with their hamburger!  The food demonstrators who I normally love to chat with seemed like heroin dealers trying to lure me into dark alleys. 

By the time I got to the liquor aisle where they were giving away samples of tequila I was tempted because my nerves needed settling down and I’ve never had tequila. I figured if the old-time doctors could use whiskey to clean out wounds, then alcohol would be safe. As I stood there deciding if I would or wouldn’t a woman my age was badgering the demonstrator to give her more than the half ounce portion he was allowed to serve. I walked away in disgust. Who tries to bully a food demonstrator into giving them more of a controlled substance! Next Up: The bakery section where I was happy they weren't giving out samples because Dr. Google says sugar and dairy are off limits until after the probiotics does its job of building the good bacteria back up in our systems. Too bad because ice cream and cookies sounded better to me than anything else in the world and they’re often featured samples. I’ve never used or took much interest in probiotics before but after several days of post norovirus belly bloating I figured it was worth a try. Trying to force farts wasn’t working and I was about to jab an ice pick in my belly button to let out the air. 

While I was at the store I decided to look for an elbow guard to protect my Popeye’s Elbow. The health and pharmacy department didn’t have any. So off I went to the sports department where I found a shooter’s sleeve apparently used by basketball players that had a padded elbow. It looked like it would help but when I saw the $39.95 price tag I decided I’d Duct Tape an empty pudding cup over my elbow before I’d pay that much. And I do need something. Since I discovered the golf ball sized lump I’ve become aware of how often I lean on my elbow. Like every time I’m sitting in front of the computer screen for starters. I stop typing I lean. I’m reading on the web, I lean. I realized that I’ve been leaning on my left elbow since childhood and I have the photos to prove it. But all was not lost. As I was leaving the sports department I spotted a part of fingerless gloves in the yoga section. (Whichever blogger friend gave me that tip, thanks!) Now I have a nice looking black pair that I could actually wear out in public. The fingerless gloves I live in around the house are an old, ratty red knit pair that are full of pilling no matter how often I use my handy-dandy sweater shaver on them. But my hands feel so much warmer and less arthritic when I’m wearing them. 

Well, that’s all from Black and Blue City. Did I mention that I found a six inch round black and blue mark on my arm and a smaller one on my leg? Apparently when I fell during my fourteen hours in Sickness Hell, I fell pretty hard. I’m lucky I didn’t break any bones. ©

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Fluffy Topics, LaughFest and the Nature of Humor

First a brief message from the elephant in the room before I move on to the "fluff" going on inside my head…rather, trying to go on inside my head. Fluff is running around up there looking for room to grow and spill out onto my computer screen. But after all that’s happened since the school shootings in Parkland, Florida it’s a real struggle. The elephant will get this and the next paragraph of rage and then I shall be a good little blogger and get off the soap box. Those of us who’ve been tuned into the national debate since 14 kids and 3 teachers lost their lives to a military-style assault rifle in the hands of a troubled teen don’t need to hear any more, and those who’ve been tuned out from what’s been going on since Valentine’s Day---Well, bless your heart, but I can’t do that. 

Okay. Rant on: I’m sick of the gun toting conspiracy theorists and alt-right “news” sources---even the president's son---spreading rumors that the students from Parkland are “crisis actors” and the shooting rampage itself is a false flag, meaning a staged play so the government can come take our guns away. Sorry, if you’re paranoia enough to believe that, then maybe you shouldn’t own guns! And certainly you shouldn’t own enough of them to hold off the Drug Cartel in your backyard! And I’m sick of people mocking, criticizing and dismissing those incredible kids who got baptized-by-fire into the realm of activism. It’s despicable! That’s just two of the side-car debates going on now along with the idea the president is pushing of arming our teachers. Jeez, what could possibility go wrong with that scenario? Rant off as soon as I say that lawmakers better get their balls back from the NRA and pass some sensible and meaningful gun control laws if they want to stay in office because the Never Again Movement is going to be a force to reckon with.

Fluff. What is it? I’m glad you asked. It’s the kind of topic bloggers search for---often in vain---when trying to write something that won’t offend anyone but won’t be as boring as brushing our teeth. Oh, we may say we’re writing for ourselves and it doesn’t matter if no one reads what we write but don’t believe it for a minute. Many of us bloggers live to find like-minded cyber friends or at least cyber friends who can engage in fair and respectful disagreements. We live to compare notes on what makes us laugh and cry, feel proud or insecure---what we think about as we navigate through our world. Fluff like that keeps the personal blogs community turning. By the way, if you’re a blogger never mix up the meaning of lifestyle blogs and personal blogs. I’ve made the mistake of using the terms interchangeable and that doesn’t fly in blog indexes. A personal blog is digital storytelling based on the blog author’s daily life and experiences. And lifestyle blogs are based on a person’s interests in a particular topic like the food, fashion, downsizing or whatever-floats-your-boat.

Raise your hand if you’re still reading. Good. A few of you are still following my rambling and as a reward I’ll tell you a joke: “Why do seagulls fly over the sea? Because if they flew over a bay, they would be bagels.” Our annual Gilda’s Club LaughFest starts soon so I’m getting ready to see two weeks’ worth of local media coverage. If I was a drive-downtown-after-dark kind of person I’d check out some of the 30 events spread out over the festival featuring various genres of comedy and performers. My heartthrob, Travor Noah, would be first on my list. Maria Bamford, Bert Kreisher, “Weird All” Yankovic and others whose names I’ve never heard will also be doing stand-up acts, improv, humor workshops and family friendly comedy. Even an exhibit of humorous portraits will be in town. 

My days of going to comedy clubs dwindled out after bell-bottoms went out of fashion. (I still miss bell-bottoms!) But won’t you agree that our humor also changes as we age? When we were kids we thought knock-knock jokes were the cat’s meow. I spent my entire childhood and teen years laughing for reasons I couldn’t explain. Then came the era of long-playing comedy records and sitting around on Saturday nights listening to records like Inside Shelley Berman and The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. Jonathan Winters, Richard Pryor, The Smothers Brothers, Lenny Bruce, Redd Foxx and George Carlin---those were some of the most popular vinyls when comedy ​33 1⁄3 rpms were the in thing. I even remember the Bill Cosby record with him joking about slipping ‘Spanish Fly’ (an aphrodisiac) into women’s drinks. I remember thinking, why is that funny? Well, who’s laughing now, Bill?

Most humor gets dated or maybe it’s just that we get jaded as we age. The world we were born into is certainly not the same one we’ll be leaving behind one day. And for that reason maybe we don’t need to fear dementia as much as we need to embrace it. That’s a joke in case you couldn’t tell. Dark humor walks a fine line between laughter and tears. ©

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Popeye’s Elbow, Flashers, Babies, Jumanji2 and the Flu

Dr. Google says I have Popeye’s Elbow otherwise known as Olecranon Bursitis. Leave it to me to get something weird. What is it? It’s a golf ball sized lump at the tip of my elbow. Apparently there’s a body part there called a ‘bursa’ which is a cushion in between the bone and the skin that gets inflamed and fills up with fluid that sometimes gets infected and needs to be drained. Fortunately most of the time they go away on their own in 3 to 4 weeks with a little rest and ibuprofen and by using alternating ice and heat pads. The weird part is I could also have tennis elbow because before I noticed the Popeye’s ball of warm flesh at my elbow I’ve also been experience mild pain in my forearm. I haven’t played tennis since I was fourteen and batting a ball back and forth in the middle of the street with my best friend when a guy stopped his car by each of us to “ask for directions.” He was totally naked from the waist down.

Being naïve teenagers who giggled over anything remotely funny we nearly split our sides out laughing as we ran into the house to tell my mother. When we finally got the story out Mom called the police. Ohmygod, that poor, young Officer who came out to the house. We were still laughing and his questions just added to our amusement. Of course, we didn’t remember any other details but his penis staring up us. Did you get a license number? What kind of car was he driving? How old do you think he was? What color was his shirt? Was he wearing shoes? Wearing shoes? I doubt we’ve have noticed if he didn’t have any feet to put them on. Yadda, yadda, yadda. What I remember most from that interview is my mother giving us a stern directive to get a hold of ourselves and stop laughing. But how was that even possible when the policeman had to explain what he meant by ‘erect’ or ‘flaccid’. Like I said, we were naïve kids and we didn’t know what the guy was doing. But he definitely didn’t have both hands on the steering wheel. And they say back in the ‘50s everyone lived in Mayberry where things like that didn’t happen.

Speaking of sweet innocence …I got a good dose of babies on Sunday. One of my nine great-great nieces and nephews (all under two and a half) was having a first birthday party. It’s amazing to see their little personalities forming already. One boy was on the selfish side wanting to take toys away from the others, one would try to take them back, but another would have a look on his little face that said, “What the heck just happened?” And when a boy was quietly pilferaging all the Mardi gras necklaces out of the other kids’ party swag bags his great aunt snagged him and said, “Aren’t those pretty! Let’s share the pink and purple ones with the girls and share the red and green ones with the other boys.” When one boy slammed a toy frying pan down on the top of another child’s head and the crying started, the pan swinger said, “Sorry” and hugged his victim as per his mother's directions. I saw some wonderful parenting going on, always watching, always stepping in with teachable moments.

It’s been a good week for socializing. The day after the party I was sitting in the Guy Land Cafeteria with two of my Gathering Girls pals and after a long lunch two of us went to see the movie Jumanji2. Neither one of us had a clue what it was about other than what we could pull up on our phones which was, “Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game.” It was starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan and we laughed from beginning to end. We didn’t expected that. In fact before going in we joked about being too old to understand what was going on since neither of us was into video games.

I wrote the above paragraphs when I got home from the movie theater. Two hours later the flu hit. And the next fourteen hours I spent alternating between projectile vomiting and projectile diarrhea and sometimes doing both at the same time. At one point in the night I woke up to find myself on the bathroom floor and I had no idea how I got there. The worst seems to be over but all I did on Tuesdays is sleep, sip Gatorade and take the flu meds I, thankfully, had stocked up on last fall. I did manage to get a shower and do a load of laundry but some clothing I just threw out. My goal for today is to eat something and hope it stays inside my body but from what I've read I'm progressing on the flu timeline right on schedule. I can expect to be weak and tired until the weekend. This is a terrible strain of flu! ©