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, 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. ©


39 comments:

  1. No doubt a social life is difficult for some on fixed incomes. Losing friends and family is difficult at our age. I haven’t had family for a number of years. I was an only child. Bob was from a big family and I only have a sister in law left. We talk every day.

    I lost a cousin this month who was 88. She’d had dementia for a number of years so it felt like she died years ago. I was her only relative. With her in Texas and me in Oregon there was little I could do for her. Some man in her church acted as her guardian. I heard from him today on a business matter. Life can be lonely for some and I feel sure it was for her.

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    1. I'm on a fixed income but it's covers all my needs with a enough left over for fun. I can't imagine living where $3 makes a huge difference in one's budget.

      Have you thought about moving back to Texas to be near your daughter?

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  2. I dvr'd that car pool karaoke because I heard an interview with James about it. I loved it. I love James as well. I heard a very open interview with he and Howard Stern. It was several hours long and he was so open it was a gem. Good man, good heart. And most of all he genuinely is a happy guy and when asked about it he said, "do you know how lucky I am? I have no reason to be unhappy" then he went through his list of his wonderful family etc. It was so nice. Nice is a breath of fresh air today isn't it?

    I am on a limited income too and not even retired yet! :-)
    I admit it scares me to think about yet I long for retirement.

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    1. James has only been on my radar for a short time---I don't stay up late enough to see him at one AM. But I got the same impression as you did listening to the Stern interview. And I loved his Michele Obama Carpool Karaoke.

      Deciding when to retire is in the top three of the most important decisions of your life. It pays to be a little scared so you get your ducks in a neater, earlier row going into it.

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  3. P.S. I loved that you used the word, "Ding-Bat" I love that word. Not since Archie Bunker have I heard anyone use this. It made me smile. Besides this word explains it all doesn't it?

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    1. Now I'm smiling because my sister-in-law was a lot like Edith Bunker. It was a word my husband and I used often---with an affection twist that Archie didn't use.

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  4. I don't eat cat food but almost always choose the 3 buck morning movie. Even though I'm probably getting popcorn and soda as well. My theory is the more free and cheap stuff I can do, the morefreedom financially I have. Trying to decide between Oceans Eight and that dinosaur film for this weekend. While I like to support womens films, I'm not sure what I think about this tendency of remaking male muti cast films with women...if only cause were fairly sure how it's all gonna come out.

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    1. I wouldn't have gone to Ocean's 8 if the others hadn't felt strong about seeing it. You are right about remaking male multi cast films to all female being a turn off for some of us, but I think they do it because they want to piggyback their success rather than come up with a brand new franchise.

      Nothing wrong with cheap-day films. But I do have an issue with people who join a well established group and want to change it. One new-ish member kept harping on the idea to the point of forcing the vote. I think it will go down in defeat but I haven't seen the final count yet. The senior hall has too many activities going on on Tuesdays which complicates choices. We have two book clubs and, to me, the simple solution is two movie and lunch clubs.

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    2. I agree, especially with the numbers it sounds like you are having. Go to one or the other. Or alternate monthly (or however often you go). I just planned a jewelry making aternoon at our local store and either happy hour or lunch before and got the most bites of everything so far.

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    3. Jewelry making afternoon sounds like a lot of fun! I may have to steal it for my little group, if I can find a class some place...library, JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby.

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  5. I grew up with The Beatles, having a sister who is six years older than me. She saw them live in Cleveland, plastered our shared bedroom walls with their photos, and had every one of their records. I'm still a huge, unabashed fan. The day John Lennon was killed remains a significant memory. I wrote about it here.

    I agree with your sentiment that "We all fall victim to the seasons of other people’s lives." It's a more human twist on the saying that The only constant is change. It's hard to adapt to the fact that other forces are often in control, but I still maintain that if something is important enough, you will make the effort. After that, you can at least say you tried.

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    1. I've always liked the Beatles but not crazy-teen like back in the day. But I've really come to appreciate their writing talent in this century. Some songs will be with us for well into the future. Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

      I've always felt like I was the captain of my own ship but at some point you have to make peace with the fact that time is running through the hour glass and you won't get to do everything in life you planned. But you're right, you still have to try!

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  6. Making new friends is the hardest dang thing!!! I quit trying. I do feel more comfortable with people I have a history. As for going to the movies--I haven't been in years, nor do I eat out, because my budget is always a little in the red, and although I manage to buy cat food, I give it to my cats. I doesn't really smell or look very appetizing to me. Yes--$3.00 would be impossible for me to come up with.

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    1. I always wonder when I hear that "joke" about seniors eating cat food how the price of that compares to tuna. I'd do peanut butter instead. Still good protein.

      Lunch and a movie isn't cheap. A twenty dollar bill between the two and a tip.

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  7. Oh my God Jean. I have tears rolling down my cheeks right now watching that video with Paul McCartney & James Corden. What a fantastic video with two gentlemen. After this I almost forgot about what your blog was all about but I do remember one thing, " Growing older sucks! ". Ive been thinking about all the old friends that I had during my schooling, some have died a he rest, well we've all gotten old but one thing I will never forget is remembering " The Beatles " on the Ed Sullivan Show. I'm going to go back and play that video with Paul, that's my name also. See ya Jean.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I remember seeing them on the Ed Sullivan Show. Hard to believe, isn't it. It seems like yesterday. I love the Carpool Karaoke but worried that people would watch it and forget to come back here to post a comment. Glad you did.

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  8. Really think you ought to put the suggestion about splitting the group. Makes perfect sense. Djan had to do that with her hiking group. Not everyone could race walk.

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    1. Right after I answered Barbara's comment above, I did just that. Emailed both the club organizer and the senior hall director...just in case everyone was like me, waiting for someone else to do it. :)

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  9. If you comment, let me know if you're seeing a 'prove you're a human' box to check or a word verification thingie. I can't seem to log out to see it the changes I added took. I've been getting too many auto-bot comments lately and it's getting annoying.

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  10. I’m back on this side of the Atlantic. I had an amusing experience with the word suck a few weeks ago in England. We met some people on the street who my husband knows and the four of us were talking. The woman asked me “don’t you mind the overnight traveling”. I was about to answer “you just suck it up and do it” when I thought better of it as I had just met them and said something much more polite! I don’t use it very often but occasionally with people I do know, it sometimes seems to fit the moment! It’s a word that with the right people can have amusing effect.
    I teach an English as a second language class and it has made me very conscious of words and the way we use them. When we had class the other day (very unspecific...which day!.) I discussed the word guys and how we use it. The more I thought of it the more I became aware that I only use it on specific occasions. I use it when the people are younger than me and it has to be an informal situation.. It was brought to my attention because people in England have started using it and it was used one morning while we were in a B & B and it seemed rather inappropriate! But I rambled!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Love your story. I used to vow I would never use that word because it's SO associated with sex and not necessarily in a good way. But I find it slipping out of my mouth and it embarrasses me as much as if I'd said the F word. I'm amazed at how quickly words can morph into other meanings in our world of social media.

      What languages to you speak? I've been thinking lately about learning how to speak Spanish.

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  11. I'm in love with James Corden. I want to carpool karaoke and do crosswalk musicals with him. Rick would probably be fine with that as he's not big on car singing (unless it's James and company). I love this clip.

    As for adding the phone call on your list -- here's why we do it -- so we don't forget. And we might have a full day so we move it. The main thing is that we don't erase it.

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    1. You're right, the main thing really IS not to erase it and eventually we'll follow through making those important calls.

      James Corden seems to be such a nice guy with a quirky senses of humor. No wonder so many seniors love him.

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  12. Oh those phone calls on lists! I have an aversion, almost phobia about talking on the phone and will do a lot to avoid it. So, my calls get postponed too. I can relate.

    I do like the Oceans franchises and I will see Oceans 8 on DVD. It takes a pretty big deal movie for me to go to the theater, it seems, although I'd love to have a movie and lunch club like yours. That would get me out the door. The last movie I went to with a group of gal pals was RBG -- the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We are still talking about it!

    James Corden is my boyfriend. Also Paul McCartney. Thanks for the shout out on sharing the clip with you. I've not tired of it yet!

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    1. I have a phone phobia too. I'm okay if someone calls me but it's a different kind of pressure when I have to make the call, like it's up to me to make sure the call rolls along great. LOL

      Ginsberg better keep herself healthy! Which I know she's been trying to do. Let's hope we can take back the senate to make sure Trump doesn't get a 3rd Supreme Court choice!

      Me neither on getting tired of that James and Paul clip.

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  13. Thanks for posting the link to the James and Paul video, Jean. It was SO GOOD. I saw Paul in concert 2 years ago and it was a phenomenal experience. The man sung for 3 hours without a break or so much as stopping for a glass of water. I briefly considered becoming a pot-smoking vegetarian since it's worked so well for Paul, but then I remembered I could never give up meat. It was the most expensive concert ticket I have ever bought and I would definitely go again if he came back to my area. Even if I had to live on peanut butter for a month.

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    1. I didn't know that he was a vegetarian. I couldn't give up steaks either. I could give up chicken, pork or fish though but in truth I only have meat or fish twice a week so I'm already art vegetarian. LOL

      I'm surprise that Paul's voice is still strong. So many singers start to lose something around his age. Your concert memories are something to treasure, that's for sure!

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  14. I did get the I’m not a robot thing.

    I don’t speak any languages well. The theory behind teaching English is that you are better off if you don’t speak the other persons language. There are almost always ways to make yourself understood and if you do speak the language it slows the progress because you are trying to get the student to listen to English without the crutch of their native language. There is a huge literature on this but I know this personally when I taught English in the prison and the guys wanted to teach me Spanish to show their gratitude. It helped because then I was able to teach them math in Spanish but it probably slowed the language learning for them. Now I have a class where almost every student is from a different country so the common language is English. I am now teaching spouses of PhD students at our local engineering university.
    I am giving some thought to learning German. I would like to travel there and would like some language. I am not at all adept at languages. 12 years of working in the prison and seriously working on Spanish and I’m still very basic!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Wow, that's interesting! I just assumed you'd have to know a person's native language to teach them English. What amazing challenges your teaching career has brought you. Thanks for sharing.

      And thanks for letting me know you got the "I'm not a robot." I won't know until morning if I solved the problem because the spam would all come overnight, but I'll bet changing my settings did the trick. I just couldn't see them myself to know if they took.

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  15. I liked the first Ocean film (2001?) - the others were meh.

    Your late sister-in-law would have kept the family together, with her cooking and organising family get togethers. Just the kind of friend you'd like to meet up with once in a while and catch up with all the latest family gossip. ~ Libby

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    1. People don't really appreciate the family matriarch until she's gone. Even when a new one tries to take her place, the mix of relatives is often different, sometimes even the foods. But family gossip never changes. LOL

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    2. Addendum: Captcha exercise each time before comment posted. ~ Libby

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    3. Thanks for adding that! I didn't get any spam overnight so I think adding that 'prove your a human' feature cured my problem while still not blocking anonymous posters like you.

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  16. My much younger long time friend and husband have taken over trying to kerp family gatherings together since her parents died a few years ago. They have relatives all over So Cal but she seems to be the only one offering her home for a gathering place any more. The holidays used to be shared or spread around and she only did Easter. I think she’s about ready to give up on maintaining these gatherings as others in her generation don’t travel as easily and the younger ones aren’t as interested. Having moved here with no family around I long go had to let go of that though our family was generously included with my friend’s family which we enjoyed and our kids could experience what it was like vicariously to be in such a group.

    Does seem the simplist thing for your large movie group to just break into two groups or can there only be transportation for one time a week? Certainly wouldn’t want to do things the easy way now, would we, and miss out on all the fun of contention.

    I’m not likely to bother seeing that movie but glad you were able to offer support. Somebody has to do the dirty work, might as well be you? ;-)

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    1. Wanting to keep families together for holidays seems to be a generational thing. Younger people would rather do a mini vacation or concerts. My niece is trying to put together a cousin's reunion and years ago people would have jumped at going---did them often---now RSVPs seem to be coming very slow.

      Our Movie and Lunch club all provides our own transportation, so that's not an issue. But there are a lot of activities---classes, lectures, lunches---that happen at the hall on cheap movie day and I'm not sure the director will like having members bled away from those. Politics. But I finally did throw the idea into the mix.

      Nice to see you back in the blogs again.

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  17. Just got word they are going to move the Movie and Lunch Club to cheap-day as a trial basis of four months.

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  18. I'd never heard of James Corden until that video started making the rounds. It certainly was a feel-good thing to watch. I'll have to find out more about Corden.

    I laughed out loud when I read this: "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."

    At that meeting last night I mentioned in another comment, the primary task was deciding on a logo design for group tee-shirts. There were four designs, with related decisions to be made: big or little? Front, back, or both? This font, or that?

    There were only ten people in the room, and it took a full two hours to make it through the decision-making process. I think we're ready to take on bigger issues now, like whether to have entertainment at the yearly Christmas party.

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    1. James Corden is the host of the Late, Late Show on TV on every night...humor, interviews, skits, that sort of thing. He does the Carpool Karaoke with a lot of people. Once did one with Michele Obama, another with Oprah, Will Smith---most are on YouTube.

      All groups---big or small---have their power struggles, don't they. My Red Hat group was going to do Tee-shirts once and couldn't agree and the idea finally got dropped.

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    2. That explains that. They say decisions have consequences, and one consequence of deciding to live without tv is being a little behind the curve, popular culture-wise.

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