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, June 30, 2018

Wild Animals and Senior Bus Trips

You’re going to be jealous when you find out what I did this week. I touched a crocodile! Yes, a live, living crocodile who was born at a wild animal park. Did I forget to mention he was a baby, only three feet long and both ends were being held by a park guy? Still, I wasn’t going to do it at first---it was a crocodile, for crying out loud and I’m rather smitten with my fingers---but then I remembered that I’m a blogger and what better material to use than an encounter with a creature who, as it turned out, had a baby-smooth underbelly and surprisingly soft, pliable skin on his back and tail. He didn’t feel anything like the pair of sexy, spike heeled alligator shoes I wore back in the ‘60s and are still in the back of my closet, waiting for a-line dresses and my skinny-Minnie figure to come back. Okay, I’ll admit I never had an Audrey Hepburn-like figure but there were a few years when I worked out at a gym every night on the way home from work and they owned a magic mirror that lied to me. I was five foot seven and a half, weighed 125 pounds---a cow by today’s standards. And I’d do anything but diet and exercise to get that body back. But I digress. 

Let’s backtrack: Thursday I hopped on the senior hall bus to go to an 80 acre wild animal park. It was one of four buses that went and because someone screwed up---not me---I got scheduled to go early in the morning instead of on an afternoon bus. I don’t do mornings well. I’m stuck in my ways and so is the dog. He never gets up before ten even though I usually make it up by eight for my coffee and computer time. But Thursday we both rolled out of bed when the alarm went off at 6:00 and ten minutes later we were walking around the neighborhood before the dew was off the grass and before the chilly night air had lifted. I get why people like that time of the day. Its quiet beauty promises something the afternoon heat and hustle of the working class can’t deliver.

I also got to pet a Red Kangaroo, a 5-6 pound baby that the park guy was carrying around in a denim pouch with a draw string closing her in. It had been rejected by its mother and they have to bottle feed it. Its fur was so soft and its eyes were curious, expressive and milk chocolate brown with bright yellow cat-eye like pupils. They start out the size of a cherry at birth but these kangaroos grow to six foot tall, 200 pounds and are known for their kick boxing. The park guy who did all the animal encounter demonstrations was quite the character. Probably gay, had a thick Spanish accent, told corny jokes and was a trained falconer who had exotic birds flying over our heads “hunting” grapes or bits of meat in the case of an Asian owl that was so close above my head I could have touched him. That owl was only six months old but will grow up to have a six feet wing spread! The park has 800 birds---70 different species, with 18 species that are threaten species in a breeding program. 

Part of our time at the park we rode around in a tram looking at their 460 mammals representing 64 species that were grazing in large fields and on foot we sawed their birds and 36 species of reptiles and amphibians---a third of the animals in the park I’ve never seen or heard about before. They did have a few more common stuff like camels, zebras and buffalo and we got to feed the Reticulated Giraffes. God, are they big! For the little kids they had a pen full of African Pygmy Goats who loved carrot sticks. They were every bit as much fun to watch as that video going around the internet of baby goats wearing pajamas. The park actually started out as an exotic animal and bird breeding farm and opening it up for tourists came much later. It was a great day trip for only $23.00 including transportation, the entrance fee, muffins and bottled water. I spent another $2.00 for a buffalo tooth. Don’t ask me why. It was in the gift shop and I had an overwhelming desire to buy something. It was a choice between an ice cream bar or the tooth and at the time I was remembering those great alligator shoes in the closet that can only be worn with a skinny body.

It was a fun day with only one sour notes in the form of a couple of bus mates wearing “choose life” and MAGA hats. When you get on a bus headed for fun leave your politics at home, people! In this tinderbox climate we’re living in wearing your politics on your clothing---like Melania did with the “I don’t care, do u?” jacket---is trolling for blow-back and debate. I was on my best behavior. I didn’t give them any snide remarks or dirty looks. But coming on the heels of Trump's manufactured border crisis and the fact that our next Supreme Court justice will have to pass a pro-life Litmus Test I would have liked to have shoved those trollers in with the adult Red Kangaroos for a good kick boxing match. ©

The baby red kangaroo

the Asian owl
 and for fun, the pajama party video

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

From Ding-Bat Relatives to Ocean’s 8 and Penny Lane

I have a couple of niece-in-laws who I don’t see often since my husband died. It’s not just the lost connection of my husband/their uncle but their mother passing away as well and I still miss her living close by. After Don died I’d stop by often when I didn’t want to go home to an empty house. I could always count on my sister-in-law’s ‘ding-battiness’ to make me laugh. She was a terrible gossip, too, and I guess I like gossip because now I have no clue what’s going on in her large Catholic family. We all fall victim to the seasons of other people’s lives. With her gone, the family parties have all ended. She was the one who’d rent a cottage for Fourth of July get-togethers and a banquet room for Christmas parties and who hosted all the Easter and Thanksgiving dinners. She loved to cook, hated leftovers and we'd go home with enough food to keep us eating for a week. Even stopping by for coffee, would earn you a half a honey ham or roast when you left.

Since my sister-in-law died, one of my niece-in-laws has moved into a nursing home and her older sister does daycare for her grandchildren and grand-dogs. She’s over committed and not in the best of health herself, but the three of us managed to have lunch together recently. It was great to be around people I’ve known and loved for decades! So different than trying to build new friendships, no matter how nice your new friends are. There’s nothing to prove, no Litmus Test, no wondering when you’ll reveal something that will stop a budding friendship in its track. Growing older sucks! Lost connections suck! And I really hate the word ‘suck’ but I’m not in the mood to work at finding a more lady-like word to use in its place. Why did it take putting a phone call on my job list to make getting together happen? Even doing that, I moved the phone call from list to list for weeks before I finally followed through. Calling someone we love shouldn’t get relegated to a job, like calling a plumber to get a leaky faucet fixed.

In my younger days---and probably yours---I could throw together my social life on the spur of the moment. “Want to go clubbing tonight?” “Sure, let’s meet at Oscar’s at---what time is it now? I can be there at 8:00.” But septuagenarians and octogenarians are different. We have a basket full of complications that have to be factored into having a social life. Things like we have to pace our physical endurance or the medical community has us jumping through hoops. Some of us can’t do mornings or can’t do afternoons and many of us don’t drive after dark. And then there are money issues for some who have to make sure a social engagement won’t result in having to eat cat food for the rest of the month. My Movie and Lunch Club, right now, is voting on whether or not to move from going on the 3rd Friday of the month to a Tuesday when the theaters offers a three dollar discount. With nearly fifty of us on the email list, my in box is getting flooded with pros and cons but no one has yet suggested splitting the group into two clubs. Duh! Sometimes the easiest solution is the hardest to come by because people get so intent on having things their own way that they forget about looking for compromises or logical solutions.

Speaking of movies, I saw Ocean’s 8 with my Gather Girls pals. IMDb condenses the storyline like this: “Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City's yearly Met Gala.” I’ve never been a fan of the Ocean’s franchise or the ‘heist’ genre, but this one is riding the new wave of movies targeting women and if we want them to keep making chic-flicks-on-steroids we have to support them. Did I like it? More than I thought I would but not enough to give it more than a 3 ½ star rating. The five of us had lunch afterward and some of the comments made were: “You couldn’t let your mind wander even a minute or you’d be lost” and “it kept us on our toes, especially with the twists near the end” and “I loved all the dresses and jewelry” and “Sandra Bullock and Anne Hathaway are great actresses!” James Corden plays an insurance investigator in the movie and I don’t mind telling you that I’m developing a mini crush on that guy, solidified all the more after a blogger friend over at My View from Here posted his Carpool Karaoke video with Paul McCartney. I’m “borrowing” her link because it’s such a feel-good experience to watch---well worth the 23 minutes it takes to go back to Penny Lane and other places special to the Beatles. ©