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 14, 2018

The Food was Great but…………


I haven’t been going to the monthly luncheons at the senior hall since my Gathering Girls group got organized and is giving me the kind of interaction with others that I was craving. In fact I haven’t been to one since last Thanksgiving but I found myself signing up for this year’s turkey dinner again. I figured if I don’t get any invitations for the holiday at least I’d have this one turkey dinner under my belt. I love turkey and it’s not like I can bake a whole bird all for myself. Well, I could but how depressing would that be? As many widows have no doubt experienced, in the first few years I got the ‘pity invitations’ for Thanksgiving Day which are well intended and do---in hindsight---help us more than we’d like to admit. In the beginning of widowhood that feeling of being alone in a celebrating group of people is not fun and what better way to walk through that fire for the first time than to be with people who would understand if our tears appear? So we find ourselves seated at a decked out table and it all looks so normal while the newly minted widows are anything but normal on the inside.

That was me six Thanksgivings ago and the pity invitations no longer come. Life go on after a spouse dies and I know a few widows who resent that those pity invitations don’t continue coming but, in my mind, that’s to be expected. Family sizes change---yadda, yadda, yadda---and new widows or widowers come along that need the pity invitations more than seasoned widows. Widows at a holiday table are like outfits in the fashion industry, you’re either in or you’re out. Very few become classics that return year after year. As Waylon Jennings used to sing, “Lawdy Lawd woe is me. Ain't a body would care I got a slow rollin' low…” coming into my head. 

Actually, any slow rollin’ low I might feel coming on is more seasonal related than holiday or widow related. We got our first snow over the weekend, a prelude to 3-4 months of never knowing from one day to the next if I’ll get sidelined at home by bad roads and cancellations. I know, I know, it’s time to get out the knitting needles or paint brushes or otherwise keep myself so busy being Suzie Homemaker that I don’t have time for the winter blues to settle in, not to mention that it’s way too early to let thoughts of pity parties dance around in my head like sugarplum fairies. 

By Monday the snow we got was nearly gone---just patches left in the shade and a sweet little snowman smiling at me from across the street---and I had things to do. One of those things was getting a haircut, $38 including tip and not for the first time I wish I could get my haircut at the dog’s foo-foo beauty spa. He gets a bath, haircut, pedicure and lots of loving hugs and kisses for $50. Such a bargain. Levi goes to a shop that has a 50-ish year old guy groomer who specializes in schnauzers and he tells me that Levi is the best natured and best mannered schnauzer he’s ever met. Put a feather in my dog mothering cap. Back in the day when we'd go "over the meadow and through the woods" to my mom's house for holiday dinners our dog was always as welcome as her grandkids.

Yesterday at the luncheon a guy about my age asked if he could sit next to me and the two of us started a free-wheeling and friendly conversation. As it turned out he was the after lunch entertainment and by the end of his act, he was crying like a baby and he wasn’t the only one in the room doing so. He’s a chalk artist who drew a mural of the bronze statue that memorializes the six Marines raising the U.S. flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 while the artist’s wife---ya, I was disappointed that he had one---read Veterans Day stories including one about those six particular Marines. Only two of them survived the battle and one---Ira Hayes, a full-blooded Pima Native American---was memorialized in a song that both Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan recorded. “When Ira started drinkin' hard, jail was often his home. They'd let him raise the flag and lower it like you'd throw a dog a bone! He died drunk early one mornin' alone in the land he fought to save, two inches of water in a lonely ditch was a grave for Ira Hayes.” 

The artist had been working in 'invisible' chalk that looks white until illuminated by a black light, all very boring to watch until the end when a panel of lights came on and made the statue and flag mural appear as if by magic while a burst of patriotic songs cane over the loud speakers. One by one the audience stood up until everyone was on their feet in a silence tribute, broken when the crying artist finally spoke a few words of apology for breaking up then everyone started clapping. I left the senior hall wishing I’d stayed home and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The food was great but that hour of patriotism-on-speed was emotionally draining.  ©

32 comments:

  1. I am so lucky that I still have my partner and that we are both from very large families so eating alone is rarely an issue. If you're ever in England at Christmas (we don't celebrate Thanksgiving for obvious reasons!) you are genuinely very welcome at my house. That picture of the soldiers raising the flag is so iconic. I didn't know what had happened to the men - very sad.

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    1. If they ever bridge a bridge to England, I'd take you up on that. My mom family had roots in your country. Glastonbury, Somerset England.

      The two guys who were in the original photo that the statue was based on, and who lived, were used by our country to raise war bond funds and Ira was not comfortable being put in the spotlight and being called a hero when so many others died in that battle. He was just a kid, really, a medic who'd watch a lot of them die up close and personal. He tried to drink his memories away.

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  2. Hey Jean, we have a bridge between the US and Canada and we are building a new bridge. We could visit and have two Thanksgivings and a Christmas. ha,ha,ha. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I heard about that new bridge and wondered if we really need it. We don't hear much about it on this side of the state. But I don't go north in the winter so tell MaryLou not to set an extra plate for me. LOL

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  3. I'm emotionally drained just reading about it ... wow. WOW.

    You are out and about so much these days. It's hard for me to remember you live in the land of snow and ice! I still don't like the pity invitations. And now that you have pointed out how they wane away, I just realized I don't get them any more.

    Jesse's family always invites me (and they alway go there for holidays and birthdays (5 grandkids plus 3 boys, mates ... plus Great Grandma, Gramma Laura and her new husband). I've gone a few times, but there's a lot of drinking going on. And they make people feel bad when they leave. We will have our own fancy dinner at home on the weekend. Braeden wants roasted chicken instead of turkey! He spent ten minutes at Costco watching the process. So we will get a roasted chicken also!

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    1. I had a few other endings before I landed on emotionally drained but it fits because when I drove home I was spent and a little angry over how Ira died and one of the readings was mildly controversial and right-wing leaning and I thought it was out of place for the occasion.

      I will probably get a deli roasted chicken if I get out to the store the week of Thanksgiving, depending on the weather. I tried to buy some turkey drumsticks a few days ago but the store didn't have them in yet. I still plan to buy a package for the freezer.

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  4. Jean, "patriotism on speed" about made me lose my coffee. Good one!
    We never get anyone to visit us for Thgiving. His daughter claims she works the day after so can't do it, my family won't travel so it's just us and I don't eat turkey. So I have been buying a turkey breast.
    It still gives us left overs but Rick makes sandwiches and it's gone
    soon enough.
    BTW, I pay $65 for a haircut plus tip. Hubby pays $35 plus tip.
    I would be thrilled for $38 including tip. Add coloring and it's over $200. I was just saying to Rick that our very slow time is approaching and I may need to grow my hair. :-)

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    1. Left over turkey sandwiches are the best part of Thanksgiving dinners. I hate going to anyone's house who doesn't give people 'doggie boxes' of food to take home. Am I ungrateful or what!

      I'm so glad I don't color my hair! Rick's and my cuts aren't far about mine are $32 and I tip six and I'll bet our hair length is the same. I'm pretty sure the style of cuts factors in on the prices. My mom got mad once when the place she was going raised their prices and she didn't get another haircut for 4-5 years. When she finally had it call cut off it made her look 10 years younger. Just sayin'

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  5. Did he add a pretty little cloud up in the corner?

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    1. He had all kinds of clouds. He finished before is wife and was doing clouds to kill time, I think.

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  6. One of the best Thanksgivings I ever had was the year I helped serve the homeless. What was amazing was that most of my co-workers were widows and one the more delightful groups I have ever met. I was with my cousin who was a new widow and I thought it would do her good to get out. She made some lifelong friends that day.

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    1. That's really a great thing to do. A lot of the churches volunteer as a group to serve the homeless.

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  7. I have to agree with the other commenters that the leftovers are the best thing about Thanksgiving. They're really the only thing keeping me from giving up cooking the big dinner anymore. I even bought a bigger turkey this year because Rick complained that there aren't enough leftovers for all the things he likes afterward, like sandwiches, a homemade turkey pot pie, etc. I do dream about sending out for a turkey dinner someday; our local grocery store will deliver one to the house with all the trimmings. Someday...!

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    1. Our local grocery store delivers full holiday dinners. At least I'm assuming they do. They had the deli turkey dinners last year and they deliver year around. If they had one for under six people I'd get one...I should look in to that!

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  8. nuthin like a soft roll with stuffing and turkey on it, the next day (or three.)

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  9. Believe it or not, we had sleet and snow yesterday. Granted, there wasn't any great accumulation, but I'll bet I had a quarter inch on my balcony railing! We're cold enough that I have some cacti and tropicals in the living room, though. I'm not going to leave my babies out in this, even with a freeze cloth and heat lamp. By the weekend, we'll be back to 70.

    I hardly can believe that Thanksgiving's next week. A week from tomorrow, in fact. I'm not traveling this year, partly because the weather's been so wonky I need to work the day before and the day after. I'm going over to the home of a friend I met online a few years ago -- we certainly were surprised, after commenting on each other's blogs for a couple of years that we live about a mile from each other. We finally figured it out when we realized we both were posting photos of the same lighthouse!

    That artist sounds interesting enough. I suppose he varies his subject according to the time of year. I've never heard of chalk that glows under a black light; that alone would have been worth seeing. It was a unique way to mark Veterans' Day, and I'll give them points for marking it at all.

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    1. Hard to picture your area getting sleet. That's nasty to drive in. Your cacti probably love your loving room.

      Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year, too. We didn't even get an Indian summer this year. That's pretty amazing how you met the blogger friend you're having dinner with this year.

      I've actually seen the chalk artist once before, a few years ago and he was doing something Mother's Day related. He and his wife keep pretty busy putting on shows in churches, nursing homes and whoever will pay their fee. He was in the Vietnam War so this V-Day theme was personal to him. The whole glow-in-the-dark chalk is such a curiosity. I would not like working with it but it's fascinating to watch.

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  10. This week has been emotional for me, as it is the two year anniversary of my dear hubby's death. My adult sons and I have had two Thanksgivings together at my house, the three of us, and enjoy the time together. Did I tell you, my church has started a group for widows and this Sunday will be its third meeting.

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    1. That's nice that your sons came home for Thanksgiving. The first two years are the hardest.

      Hope the group at your church works out for you. Getting in on the ground floor almost makes it better, like you have some influence and how it develops over time.

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    2. I don’t feel a need to share holidays with others if I’m home and family not here. One year I fixed a small turkey ‘cause I wanted the leftovers. Haven’t liked some of prepared dinners stores sold. Finding a good single serving hot turkey/ham etc. dinner for carryout has been challenging here sometimes, too, as don’t want to stand in long lines to get it, even if they’ll take a pre-order. I have eaten out, but prefer to be home. A special deli here I like is offering them this year for one person, so will pick up the day before and reheat in microwave. They’re offering a preview for a couple hours at lunch this Friday as they did with some of various other items offered last Fri. I’ve passed up offers to join some other families on occasion for a variety of reasons. I am surprised sometimes to feel a twinge of aloneness when in other family groups and couples, but only occasionally — was startled the first time that happened.

      I agree, widows receive attention and concern the first year but doesn’t last from most other couples. I have one good couple friends for whom that’s not true, but in recent years I haven’t enjoyed driving the somewhat distant packed freeway to go there as I did for several years at times for long weekends.

      Usually my children phone me sometime on the holiday or we FaceTime. Other than that, the holidays seem pretty much like any other day, I guess. We always stayed home anyway with no other family out here most years, so I just don’t have all the activity or food for which I made all the preparations, anyway, TV football was incessant which over the years whether holiday or weekend became an involuntary overdose administered by my husband to the rest of us in the family.

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    3. For me it helps to stay off Facebook on holidays and the day before and after, but FaceTime with family would be nice and I could see making an exception for that. I should learn how to do that.

      I'm happy not to have to drive the freeway or listen to a football game in the background.

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  11. Here in Northern New York we woke up to a white blanket this morning and 17 degrees. A bit of a shock to the system!
    I have a pleasant memory from Glastonbury: we lived not terribly far from there for many years. I was a runner and Glastonbury had a 5k race that I did with my daughter who was 8 at the time. I told her that we could walk whenever she wanted to, but not only did she run the whole 3 miles (the cheering crowds pulled her along) she talked the entire time! That’s how I remember it anyway! Good crowds and pleasant landscape.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I can't believe how quickly we went from summer to winter! 17 degrees before Thanksgiving? Yuck!

      My niece went to Glastonbury this recently and she thought it was a charming place. She loved the people in England in general. When she went to the specific place our ancestors are from a lot o people thought they knew her, could see the family lines in her features!

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  12. That sounds like a really wonderful presentation. Interesting take on the pity invitations. I hadn't thought of that. If it's just Rick and me, no kids, we throw out the invite to anyone who doesn't have people to be with. Some are widowed, some are just friends whose kids are elsewhere or otherwise engaged. It's always good. We're going to his cousin's for TG and I'm glad because with my foot and back I don't much feel like long-term cooking but I confess I will miss the holiday at home.

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    1. Being an artist yourself, you would have liked it. I could never work in front of that many people (115) only in my worst nightmares. But his entire career was in advertising art so he was used to working quickly, I think.

      Maybe next year your back and foot will have recovered from the trip to Paris and you'll have that holiday at home.

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  13. I remember when I was a kid, an artist came to our church with a traveling evangelist. He drew the "old rugged cross" at sunset. They sky was aflame. Very dramatic. Another time, there was a an evangelist who displayed his huge knife collection. The boys loved that. It was akin to a bit of sugar to make the religion go down smoothly. They always got bigger crowds when the visiting preachers/entertainers were in residence.
    So happy that your Gathering Girls have filled that friendship space for you so well.

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    1. How interesting about the traveling artist! Can you image showing a knife collection to kids today, very popular with guys in my husband's generation. They all carried them but they were outside in nature most of the time and actually used them, too.

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  14. impressive story.... keep up your spirit.
    have a great day

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  15. True confession: I cook myself a big turkey feast every year -- although for Christmas rather than Thanksgiving. I do a huge roast turkey with all the fixings, and then eat from the frozen leftovers (including several gallons of turkey stock) for many months afterward. Sometimes I invite a friend or two to share my feast, but often I have a meal for one. It doesn't feel pathetic to me at all (in the words of the old L'Oreal ad, I think I'm worth it), and it definitely beats being someone's charitable pity guest. Probably because I've lived alone since I was in my twenties, cooking a fabulous meal just for me doesn't seem weird to me at all. I usually avoid telling other people about my solitary Christmas feasts, however, because I'm afraid they will react with pity and spoil my enjoyment.

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    1. You are definitely worth it. I do a mini version of what you're doing just not with turkey. About once a month I'll make a big meal and freeze the left overs in serving sizes. I know what you mean about avoiding telling people you're going to be alone on a holiday. Lots of people out there who do care about and don't like seeing someone alone on holidays.

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