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 8, 2018

Here I go Again!

 

This past year and a half since we formed my Gathering Girls group, who’ve been meeting twice a month, I’ve been happy with my social life. Throw in a couple of lectures, the Lunch and Movie Club, an occasional Red Hat Society tea, my monthly book club and I’ve had enough contact with the outside world to keep me from turning into an eccentric character straight out of central casting. (Scene 2, take 4: As an old woman with wild white hair and wearing a ratty bathrobe wanders the street looking for lost dogs to hoard a hitman on the eighth floor pushes his mark out the window, the body landing several feet in front of the woman. She screams.) But things are changing. More precisely, our health is changing. One of the seven in our original Gathering Girls group has all but dropped out because she's on dialysis now. Two others have severe back issues effecting their mobility, one has breathing issues and another has digestive problems---all things that keeps them from roaming too far from home. And the oldest in the group keeps passing out for reasons her doctors can’t figure out. What used to be all seven of us getting together twice a month has dwindled down this summer to three or four and not always the same three or four. Nothing lasts forever and my inner Eeyore is retreating into the Gloomy Place in the Forest.

I know, I know, I’m mourning the loss of friendships before they’re even gone. I blame my own health scare for that…the one involving my failed elbow surgery from 1999 that I wrote about last month. I can live with the clicking sound of the erratic bones when I move my arm a certain way. I can live with the pain if it doesn’t get any worse. I’m learning how not to stress that arm and I can live with the plan the bone doctor and I cooked up to keep me out of surgery. (He’d have to cut off the bones in my lower arm and rebuild the entire elbow area---a long surgery, with a long rehab.) That’s our last Resort Plan. Since the anti-inflammatory drug he first gave me---prednisolone---helped so much his theory is that the failure of the screws in my elbow didn’t just happen and that I did something jarring recently to my arm that agitated the already messed up area. But you can’t stay on Prednisolone, so part of Plan A involves getting on a mild pain medication that I can do long term. I was happy with Plan A until the drug he prescribed came in the mail. Yikes, I’m not taking that stuff! Why risk a stroke---the number one side effect---because of a little pain? I haven’t called the doctor back to set up Plan B---the laser energy wave treatments---because I want to run all this by my internist at my bi-annual appointment next month, see if he has an alternate drug to recommend. The laser energy waves are not covered by insurance and they aren’t cheap.

It’s like everything in my life is lining up and pointing me towards a major reality check. It’s telling me I need to downsize again and move closer to my family while I still can do the work required. My hard earned social life is what mostly holds me to this end of town but how much longer will it be around? So this week I listed my first collectible on eBay in three years. I lived on eBay after Don died and I sold so much stuff it makes my head spin thinking about it. It was just one listing this week but enough to help me to relearn the ropes at eBay. Next up is a cap gun from the ‘40s that should sell for upwards of $700. It’s emotionally hard to sell off parts of your life, the prizes from treasure hunts. The day my husband found that cap gun at a toy show, he was over the moon happy. The one he grew up with---the one that helped him and his brothers ‘win the west’---was lost in a tornado that wiped out the entire family farm. Yup, he spent his adult years searching for and buying back parts of his youth. It’s a common MO for toy collectors.

So here I go again! I’ve been on Zillow.com looking at condos and manufactured home parks and I narrowed down my relocation search area to a bedroom community that is in the path that my nieces and nephew take when they come out of the boondocks to occasionally shop the malls on the south end of town. (I'm on the northern edge of town with over a million people in between here and there.) I’ve already found a knitting club and a library book club in the area and if I end up in a manufactured home park they both have a 24/7 pools and workout facilities. I could probably start a movie and lunch club in a park like that. But picking a condo or park has to also work for Levi. I won’t move without him and the last time I went through this 'gotta-move thing' they wanted to interview Levi before they'd even let me put an offer in on a condo. Stopped me cold to the whole idea of moving. Over the next few weeks I’m going to tour the two parks and several condo communities in my target area, talk to managements to rule them in or out for Levi before getting serious about shopping listings for sale within them. If the places in my target area get ruled out I’m going to throw a mini pity party before regrouping my brain cells. I feel like Eeyore setting off to look for a new tail, hoping that by this time next year I’ve found one. Except that Eeyore isn’t known to be an optimist, is he. ©


42 comments:

  1. Oh dear, this is a big change in plans. I certainly am a believer in doing this kind of thing while you can have an active part in it. What I can’t imagine is a move you have no excitement about. Moving is a big thing, lots of work, lots of emotional wear and tear. Would be awful without something to look forward to. Perhaps something will develop once you actually start looking.

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    1. I got this bee in my bonnet back in (I think) the second year after Don died and gave up the search. I would survive a move---it couldn't be anymore emotional or traumatic than downsizing from two houses to one after Don's stroke. But I'd worry about Levi. His life would change dramatically if the only time he can go outside is to walk to do his business. I'd hate that too! Last night he was in and out a dozen times for who knows what. I'd probably try to find him a doggie daycare to run off some of his energy. But the problem with that idea---at least up here is---they get booked up with working people who have contracts for daily care and I've only done daycare with Levi once a week. We had a place near a pizza place where he'd go while we did a few errands and got pizza. A niece-in-law's dog and Levi used to have play dates too but then they got another dog and three was too many to do that at either house.

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  2. Have you ever had a stroke before? Are you at high risk for them, or do they run in your family? I'd like to think that your doctor took your history/risk factors into account when he/she prescribed that drug. Almost every drug has awful side effect possibilities--the one I'm on for migraine prevention sounds like it could kill me. But here I am.

    I think it's a good plan to talk to your PCP about your concerns. All of them. Maybe things are not quite so dire as you may feel. And maybe streamlining at home for a bit, amassing a bit of cash for some help, etc. in the event of a health emergency, might help you feel more secure at present.

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    1. No one on my side of the family has had a stroke but I've had several TIAs about 35 years ago, before I was put on blood pressure pills and before either one of my doctors have record of those.

      I've got the perfect house for aging in place...built for wheelchairs with zero steps and I already have enough cash to hire help in an emergency or otherwise. BUT having been through a dire emergency with my husband and having mentored in the stroke community for several years I know that a person in that situation doesn't necessarily have the brain power---at the time---to arrange that stuff for his or her self. I'm pretty sure my niece/s would help with those kinds of arrangements if I was located more conveniently, but where I'm at now would put too much strain on their busy lives and I'd end up in a nursing home for something I might be able to recover from...seen it happen way too many times.

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  3. WOW big changes to be working on.
    I guess you wish to do that before winter. Is it a lot farther than where you are now?
    I want to tell you a trick that has been helping Rick a great deal. He can't take the anti-flamatory drugs due to side effect. They suggest a tylenol plue an ibupropen. The same type of ingredients in a pain pill such as percocet. Rick sometimes takes 2 of each. It helps his shoulder a great deal and allows him to sleep. Just a thought.

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    1. I will put that on my list of questions for my internist's appointment. He's always wanted me to take Aleve for pain in the past.

      I can't guarantee I'll actually follow through with moving but the idea has been dominating my thoughts since I found out the source of my elbow pain, so I finally had no choice but to write about my worries and woes.

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  4. I think you're being very sensible, and facing reality head-on. Its better to move while you can.

    It'd be tough letting go of your collectibles, but has to be done. That first step is the hardest, I find.

    I'm trying to be clear-eyed about the same myself. I renovated a few years ago, and spent much time/money, thinking this would be my final place. I didn't foresee the changes that the years bring on. I have adult kids, but they're busy in their lives - as they should be, and as I was in my own time - so will have to do it myself. I'll start looking around early next year, after I've completed a few personal projects.

    Its ok, we'll all manage! One foot in front of the other. I like that Chinese saying: every journey begins with a single step. ~ Libby


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    1. I took my first steps at downsizing collectibles after Don died. I was doing eBay full time for two years and made enough money to pay off the mortgage. I also opened two booths in antiques malls, and took loads of stuff to an auction house more recently. (We'd bought and sold antiques in various venues for years before Don died, so basically what changed is I just wasn't buying anymore.) The auction house has since moved to another town, too far to be practical anymore. I sold my showcases so getting into another antique mall isn't going to work, even if I could work my way up their waiting lists. eBay is the only real choice now. What I have left has more meaning to me. And I go back and forth between resenting having to downsize and knowing it's the smarter choice. But we will all manage, won't we.

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  5. Think I'd rather take a beating than to do the ebay thing again, just saying.
    Yes, Levi is a a major consideration. Maybe start the downsizing as far as possessions and do some investigating as to new location?
    Rock - hard place situation ... Sorry ...

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    1. Sharon! I didn't realize you were back to blogging again! I had taken you out of my 'feed' but I just put you back in so I'll start reading you again.

      Being a dog person I know you understand about Levi. He's ten with a life expectancy of 13 to 16 and it would be nice if I could stay here until he's gone, then get another dog after I'm resettled. Either way your suggestion makes a lot of sense, so if something happens to him I'm house-ready to go.

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    2. P.S. I feel the same way about eBay. I really don't like doing it and I've done it off and on for 20 years. It's a pain in the neck. I loved the auction house for being the easiest way to downsize and they are still my ace in the hold. When/if I move they will send a truck to pick up what I leave behind.

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  6. Well darn! Is it possible to find a few 60+ Gathering Girls to add in? Wonder where they hang out?

    I agree to actively downsizing WHILE looking. The worst that can happen is you’ll need to decide if a good deal comes up.

    Who knows? Being proactive will make you less Eeyore-ish and a move will move to the background. Levi will adjust to having you go out with him. Also check out leash free parks and LOTS of doggie daycare will do two days a week!!

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    1. We've actually talked about adding a few Gathering Girls in the fall. Three of have friends that are moving in the area.

      Ya, Levi will adjust to having me go out with him, but will I in the middle of the winter? LOL The search area is pretty big but they do have a walking trail that cuts down the middle of it and goes from one end of the state to the other. I did not know that about the two day doggie care contracts.

      Selling off stuff always has my brains doing the petulant swing from Eeyore-ish aka as in why do I have to sell stuff I still love when I'm still alive to enjoy it to living minimalist-ist might be fun.

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  7. You are smart to selling off your treasures. Trust me, when we are gone, who ever is handling your estate will not view them as such.
    I too worry about my dog. I have made arrangements with a friend that when the time comes, she will take Callie in exchange for the bulk of my life insurance. Lets just hope we outlive our dogs and remain active.
    Have you tried CBD for you elbow? You can buy it in most states and is supposed to be good for pain. I would for my shoulder but CBD and blood thinners do not play well together. Sigh.
    Good luck with your plans.

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    1. I have four people who will benefit from my estate, two would probably send it all off to the Salvation Army. One understands the value of collectibles but I doubt she'd have the time and one---the son-I-wish-had makes a living buying and selling estates and my stuff better than I do. What happens in the end will depend a lot on where everyone is at in their life at the time...I think. If I don't sell stuff off now, a great estate sale could happen easy and quick. If I sell half off I sort of screw that idea up because estates sales these days have to generate x-amount of money to make them worth a dealer's time. I could also have my own estate sale after I move, if I don't sell off too much. It's puzzle that makes my head spin.

      Cannabidioil? We can buy it legal here with a doctor's script but it never crossed my mine. Not saying I'd never do it but the pain would have to get a whole lot worse than it is now.

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    2. Patti, curious. Is CBD like Hemp Oil? I have heard it works well for pain, but I too am on blood thinners and don't know if I can use it or not.

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  8. You should have no problem in a manufactured park getting Levi in. Here it costs $10.00 extra a month and the dog size is regulated, but Levi would not have a problem with being too big. You might like a manufactured home--you still on your own, in your own home, with no wall sharing neighbors. Some parks, like mine have separate areas for people over 55 and families with young noisy kids. I do love it here.

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    1. I was hoping you'd weigh in with a little insight on what manufactured parks are like. I have an appointment Saturday to view some models in one with 400 homes. I like the idea of not sharing a wall and the fact that a new one costs less than half what a condo does. Condos on the other hand, have some communities here with zero steps for people over 55. Any questions I should be asking? I read some reviews of the place and they were complaining about having to pay all the unities. I have no clue what is normal.

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  9. I don't know what to say after reading your blog but it stared me to thinking. I'll be 69 on October and I guess I'd be thinking about my future. I worry about having a stroke especially since I've gained weight. I'm back to my old methods of losing and I hope that when my cruise is up I hope to losing 20 to 25 lbs, I hope. Mary Lou & I are seriously planning moving but where is the problem. You & Levi will be fine just like me. We'll be fine my friend. I'll be thinking about you Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. It's a tough issue even when you know you should do it for all the right reasons. But I'm not holding my breath. It's a seller's market down here. Good when I go to sell but I won't sell until I've bought and moved into some place, and thankfully, I should be able to do it that way.

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  10. What big changes are afoot! I wasn't expecting this. Moving is a job, but it's better to move forward with your plans now while you can, as you say, still do the work. Also, its better to do it while you can still make all the decisions and handle the emotion and stress involved in a move. It will be exciting to look at new places, though. You should post pictures here. :)

    That elbow... ouch! I wouldn't take the pain medication either. Not if I could do without it. I completely understand seeking other plans before surgery. People our age should avoid it if possible.

    You sure have a lot going on. Your Gathering Girls will be the hardest to leave, but I have faith in your abilities to build on your social life. I've seen you do it before.

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    1. I should have probably clarified better than my time table for moving isn't until next year. I have a bunch of selling to do and homework to be done. And as the title says, "here we go again." I could just be house shopping, make myself crazy with indecision and bail out again I I did a few years ago.

      I do think I'll be able to build another social life and occasionally I could probably even meet with the girls at the movie theater. It's half way between here and my target area.

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  11. My mom moved to an over 55 manufactured home park when she first moved near me. It was great! She had her own space, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths a nice kitchen living room and dining area and a small "yard" (mostly along the house, but enough to plant her lovely flowers.) She got involved socially a little bit but being an introvert, she didn't do all the things they offered. She made friends with her neighbors and the lady across the street and was quite content. When demential reared it's head 8 years later everything changed,but I thought it was a great place for her and the others there for a time. It was a smaller park -- I think only about 150 homes. Of course all the maintenance is still yours to deal with, but independent and autonomy might be the trade off. I'm sorry you are back to this dilemma; it's such a quandary to know how best to approach the whole downsizing, moving thing. Thinking of you. Hugs.

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    1. That's a great comforting story, Donna. I think next spring will open up more possibilities because there re 55+ communities going up at a fast clip around here. One manufactured home park on my end of town is absolutely perfect except for the location, of course.

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    2. When my mother moved from Midwest to So Cal near me years ago to a 55+ community it was just perfect for her. She had been in an apartment, having had to move from a much larger one where she’d been for many years and now she was moving again, across country. She said she did miss having contact with more people of all ages as she had been used to, but found neighbors there with whom to socialize. She was legally blind but had been for years so was accustomed to being independent and adapted to her limitations. If you do move into a new location probably you’ll explore whatever socialization activities they have and can, perhaps, initiate one of your own should you choose as you seem to have experience doing.

      Sounds like you pretty well have all the issues pinpointed. As you actually investigate the places you have in mind probably more matters will come together in your mind. Checking it all out now seems wise. Do hope you determine what med can provide the pain relief you need and is effective.

      I can surely identify with having friends no longer being available for socialization and doesn’t lessen as I age — nothing is lasting in the way it once seemed more likely to be. I’m less inclined to want a regular fixed schedule of activities with commitments except for a few select things than you seem to enjoy. Spontaneous activity appeals to me though it might take me a little longer to get it all together to get going, but understand some don't like that unpredictability.

      Parting with items given their personal and emotional connections gets in the way for me, too. I read somewhere to take a picture of everything as doing so sometimes is a technique providing some solace.

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    3. Glad your mother's moves worked out. Thanks for sharing that.

      I've suggested taking photos before in this blog of things we want to let go of that are hard. With eBay that happens natural. The packing and post office trips gets to be a pain in the butt too.

      Losing friends...growing old isn't for sissies! Like people say about losing a pet, that they don't want to go through that again. I can see where making new friends comes with the same peril.

      Glad moving worked out for you mom. I've lived on the other end of town before...not in the same bedroom community but I'll still know my way around. Still, I'll have have a lot of exploring to do. I now the center hall isn't anywhere near as busy. People come from 3 counties to join ours and I've checked them out on line.

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  12. Any community would be lucky to have you in their midst, Jean. Moving is ridiculously hard on so many levels. I applaud you for being proactive. So many of us aren't - we wait until we are out of options, and that makes moving so much harder. I see it happening to friends and family all the time. I hope all goes well with your search for a new place.

    Deb

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    1. Aww, thanks! I'm not worried about me getting along. But Levi the Mighty Schnauzer likes to bark too much and I'm worried about him thus me for having to control him.

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  13. Good luck for all your plans. I think you're very sensible to be give yourself a reasonably big time frame to get everything sorted. As for collectibles, if it's something that seems like a bit of wrench to part with, take lots of photographs, then you'll have the memories but not the physical object.

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    1. Thanks. That works...taking photos because its the memories more than the objects that are the treasures. But I dread the work of doing the downsizing too. I'd rather just live in the present than in the past of future but I tend to do both too often.

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  14. I've been thinking of this since you posted. If you move to that part of town will you be able to see and participate in more family activities? If not, is it possible to move even closer? I think an 55+ manufactured housing complex would be great for you as the newer ones especially have activities that you can get involved in to meet new people. It sounds like you have much to go through and get rid of so eBay seems the way to go unless you want to hire someone to help you. Another blogger I read is going through this and she had someone come out (a realtor maybe) who gave her good tips on what to work on before selling. She called it right-sizing instead of downsizing, emphasizing the reason for parting with items. Have you thought about having your beneficiaries come out now to pick the items they'd like or you want them to have? That might help with the volume. The emotional part will be hard and I am sorry about that, but I do like the idea of taking pictures of your most treasured so you'll always be able to "see" them. I wouldn't get to fixated on a timeframe for next year...who knows, maybe you'll find someplace sooner that will excite and motivate you to get going. I wouldn't worry about Levi. You can always enroll him in a training class to get a handle on his barking and you can always have your PCP fill out the paperwork to get Levi certified as an emotional support dog. As long as we have the AD A (she said grimly because of the current administration) they can neither deny you or charge a fee for a support animal. I don't know if any of this helps, but I am thinking of you and hope you find a great solution to it all.

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    1. Yes, moving to the other end of town cuts down a half hour of travel, travel through the very center of a very busy town via an expressway I won't do in the winter and I won't ask my family to do either. I don't think I could go totally rural like they are, though. From my target area, it would be all rural driving for a half hour.

      I love the term right-sizing instead of downsizing. That's brilliant. After my husband died, I did have someone helping me sell off my husband's things. He did the stuff that sold for big bucks, I sold off the stuff under 2-3 hundred. And he would help me again, if I want to take a load or two to the auction house. I went to a class on downsizing put on by a real estate woman two year4s ago and signed up for it again. But I didn't like her approach at all. She would have walked in my garage after Don died and tell me to haul it all off to the Salvation Army or dump, stuff that ended up going for over $40,000 and paid off the mortgage. She had no clue about guy-type collectibles. By comparisons, I have a drop in the bucket left to sell...just the harder choices. But she had some handouts I might find helpful.

      I was thinking just this week that can start working on Levi right now. I know what I need to to---he's been to training classes---distract him, not yell when he barks. It works, I just don't do it because no neighbors can hear him bark, here. I've asked.

      The housing market is tight right now and new condo places will be ready next spring. I would like to think I'll be in a better position then to take the plunge.

      I have been giving things away already.

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  15. Definitely some change in the wind. But you are wise to do so while you still have the opportunity to be in control -- to choose what you take and release, where to be, and all. Downsizing is huge. Carol (she's a Michigan person too) just did a couple of posts on downsizing. (Red Painted Cottage) Good hints. Although you've done it before, you probably have it down pat. Not me. I part hard with things, people, places.

    It is difficult to see your friends start having health scares and knowing you could have one too. Always good to be proactive, I say, and good for you, making a choice. Also good there is no timetable. That makes it a little easier.

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    1. I have done it before but under enormous stress after my husband's stroke. But I'm like you about 'parting hard.' I love that term! And I will check out the Red Painted Cottage blog. Thanks for the tip.

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  16. Go see some places! It's fun! If finances aren't a major consideration you might wish to stay put after you do some looking and thinking.

    Something to consider is that mobile homes don't appreciate like real estate-they depreciate. Nor do you own the land under it, so no appreciation on land for anyone but the park owner. And yes, you have to pay all the same utilities you pay in your home, and property taxes, and monthly rent for your space.

    Just how far away are your nieces? If you (me, or any one of us) need daily care, it won't likely be them anyway. Not while they are still working.

    You've gotten some very good tips here and I'm sure you'll do your homework. Might make sense once again to simply stay put.

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    1. I know about the depreciation thing but if I got a new/er manufactured home it would last as long as I do.

      My nieces live a good hour or more away in good weather and they never come to this end of town---too much traffic. And I would never expect them to do daily care even if I lived next door. If I needed that it would be time to go to an assisted living facility. But since they are my power of attorney for health, finances and estate dispensation, it would a whole lot easier on them when/if I do need to be moved to assisted living or whatever if I was on the other side of the million people in my city.

      On paper it does make sense to stay here money wise and because this house is designed for wheelchair living. But I'm lonely for the kind of warmth you only get from family and I have absolutely no one here. No one would even notice if I died two weeks ago. I could sign up for the daily auto calls that if you don't pick up they call someone to check in on you but I don't have anyone to name!

      I went through this urge to move a couple of years back, looked at all the options and decided to stay put and build a network of friends instead. That worked for a while.

      I do have some places lined up to see on Saturday.

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    2. No property taxes to pay in a manufactured home park. The owners pay those and probably that cost is included in our rent. How much property taxes would one pay on a 40x80' lot anyway? We pay gas and electricity. Garbage pick-up and yard waste pick-up is free (or included in our rent).

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    3. I toured a park this weekend and will write more in my Wednesday post. I did forget to ask about the taxes, so if included that's not so bad. I know my house taxes, if divided by 12 would cost just shy of $300 a month. The Parks HOA is still double what a the HOAs on a condo next door. But this park for sure does meter and charge for your water plus for trash pick up and a month pet fee of $25. Do you get infractions for things like beach towels drying on a deck rail, grass too long, putting things underneath your house or putting your trash bag on the wrong side of the drive? They do in this park. I've got a lot to learn.

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  17. I'm following this post with particular interest, because it's personal. The r/e and depreciation issue also weighed heavily with me. I figured, just close the doors to the rooms not used - tho' I open them in between to keep them aired.

    I also continue to explore options, and not stress myself with a deadline. ~ Libby

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    1. I'm not putting a deadline on myself either but I won't move or list in the winter. A neighbor on the street put their house up for sale this week and it sold the first day. I hate the tightness of the market.

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  18. Good post. So many decisions as we age. I'm a widow too and no children. I'm trying to get my affairs in order and have picked some charities, but I must still get a lawyer. How would the charities even know if I died? I have a health care proxy, but no power of attorney, as there is no one I feel I can totally rely on. Do I use a lawyer? A lot to think about..

    I want to stay in my home as long as possible. I can see the appeal for a manufacturer home park...lots of social activities, of which I'm drawn to. But my home is private and quiet on a corner lot backing up to a field and woods. And decorated just as I like it and I know that's silly, but it means a lot to me.

    Right now I have friends, but all of them are actually a few years older than me, so the future could bring much loneliness.

    I've been feeling older lately and more tired. It's like I can feel a change in the air, so to speak. I feel an urgency to get things in order as best as I can...

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    1. I did/do use a lawyer to set up a will and powers of attorneys for health and finances and every couple of years she has me in to review it all to make sure nothing as changed. If you don't pick someone, a court will appoint someone. It could be a shirttail relative willing to take it on or a stranger in the business of doing such things. (I was asked by a court to take care of a great-aunt's estate and I barely knew her.) An important issue, don't put off talking to a profession about it.

      I totally understand wanting to keep living in a home backed up a great view and decorated the way you love it. Not silly at all. I hate the idea of leaving this house but on the other hand, it's getting too big.

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