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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Everything That was Old is New Again


I’m sitting here waiting for FedEx, UPS and USPS to show up with early birthday gifts to myself. Shopping online is way too easy. Coming today are my iron bed in a gun-metal gray (a new twist on a very old style), a box spring wrap (a new twist on bed skirts) a blanket and another set of sheets. The blanket I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond might go back, if I like the one coming from Amazon better. That store was a disappointment when I shopped it last week. They’ve enlarged a makeup section and cut down on the selection of towels and sheets. I guess makeup qualifies as “beyond” but most people think “bed” and “bath” supplies when they go there.

On my library shelf I have an 1895 Montgomery Ward and a 1905 Sears-Roebuck catalogs left over from an era when I day-dreamed that I was going to write historical romance novels. As much time as I spent studying those catalogs you would have thought I was living back in those times when ordering something took weeks to get delivered. Now you order, and two days later it arrives at your door. How cool is that! Over the years those catalogs have come in handy for identifying stuff we’d find in our travels. If no one could tell us what something was, there was a good chance it would end up in my husband’s collection. Sometimes it would take a few years, but eventually we’d figure it out, although I still have two things in the house that are mysteries. Even today I get a kick out of looking through those catalogs. You never know when it will come in handy to know that in 1895 you could buy a yard of 1¼ inch Irish Point Cambric Embroidery stitched on a three inch cloth for seven cents. Okay, so I’ve never actually been able to work that fact into a conversation, but I’m hopeful that day will come.

Back on topic. Here’s the deal. The bed comes today (Thursday as I'm writing this) and Saturday the guys from the service that Wayfair hooked me up with will come put the bed together. The mattress place only delivers to my area on Tuesdays and Friday so I’ll be in a holding pattern where I’m sleeping on a twin bed in the same room where my new bed will be set up. Tuesday the son-I-wish-I-had will be back to pick up that second twin---he’s already picked one set up to make room for the new bed. He has two sets of twin grandkids and they will put my old bed frames and mattresses to good use. Confused? You’re not the only one.

With the painters then all the other stuff going on poor Levi has been confused and out of sorts. I used those twin beds shoved up sit-by-side and he's been sleeping on Don’s side since a few days after he died. The first night with only one twin in the house Levi tried to claim it as his. I made him a nest on the floor next to the bed but he wouldn’t use it and there is no way I was going to sleep on a crate liner with a cushy blanket on top. It took him a half hour of pouting and pacing before he finally acknowledged me as the alpha member of our pack and went to the living room to sleep on the couch. The second night we agreed to share the foot end of the twin, but I was so afraid I’d fall out of bed that before I fell asleep I woke him up and made him move. He rearranged the nest on the floor, laid in it for two minutes then left to sleep on the couch. By the time he gets used to this temporary arrangement, the new mattress will be delivered and he’ll be confused all over again. 

Fun fact: The iron-look-alike bed I just paid $350.00 for on sale cost $7.50 in 1895 plus 35 cents for extra slats...and that one was solid iron. I had an antique iron bed that I had to sell when my husband had his massive stroke and it went for $800 on eBay. Everything that was old is new again.... ©

Here's all the photos of the finished bathroom redo:

view from the doorway, left side of the room---that linen closet is 22" deep

view from th doorway, right side of the room--the chest was not in the room when Don was alive and we needed the space for his wheelchair after transfers
This chest is one of the first pieces of furniture I refinished when I was in my teens. The 3-D photo on the wall was of one of my husband's gas pump faces. It was taken by a professional photographer who now sells them for big bucks. It speaks to me in ways I can't describe.
of course, we need one of these in a bathroom

This watercolor print was done by a local artist. It's of a channel coming from Lake Michigan and it's one of my favorite places on earth.
Going back out of the bathroom you see the necessary stuff on the counter top, although the linen closet has plenty of room for it if I want to hide it out of the way.
I wanted a pop of color on the floor without a pattern that fought with the shower curtain and I didn't want a solid color the would dominate the space. This 5'x7' rug filled the bill and is meant to look like a worn-out oriental rug. I had 23 rugs on my 'wish list' at Wayfair before I narrowed it down and I'm happy with my final choice.

Last but not least, pulling back the shower curtain to show the safety features in my shower. They are one of the reasons why when I was looking for condos a few years ago I couldn't find one that didn't feel like a downgrade for aging in place. If the portable chair is removed there's enough room for a rolling shower-chair for a disabled person. It might look like over-kill with all the grab bars but trust me, as the caregiver helping with showers I used them all...and still do to practice being safe in the leading place where seniors fall. Anyone remodeling a bathroom needs to plan for their needs down the road, think safety and accessibility BEFORE you actually need it. (Are you listening, N.K.B.?) After Don's stroke our houses sat empty and we were parked in a small apartment while our new house was being built because neither one of our old houses had bathrooms that could be remodeled to suit his needs. Even the apartment bath had to be approved before the hospital would release him to my care. In the stroke community I ran into a lot of people who spent unnecessary time in nursing homes waiting for their home bathrooms to be upgraded for safety and/or accessibility. 

If you think I'm being militant about this issue now, you should have known me a year or two out from Don's stroke, after we'd been through major housing issues. We had too much income to quality for the government subsidized apartment buildings that are set up for the disabled and the required 10% accessible apartments in large privately owned complexes were being rented to people who didn't need them. The apartment we did find had to have the bathroom and bedroom doors removed to accommodate his wheelchair while the apartment next to us had the government's basic ADA requirements---zero steps, wide doorways, grab bars in the bathroom---was rented by a young, healthy girl. Hopefully, the housing accessibility issue is better now than it was in 2000 but I wouldn't bet on it. Some states have since passed laws that large builders must build 10% of their houses accessible but back when I was following stuff like this, there was push back on making that a federal law. And ordinary people like to fool themselves into thinking they will never have a need for commonsense stuff like good grab bars. Drives me crazy! Rant off.

28 comments:

  1. First of all I have to share that my husband thinks Bed Bath and Beyond is all about the Beyond. He loves that store and as he enters he always says, "it's all about the beyond" Yes, he is a weirdo.
    Your bathroom looks lovely Jean!
    As for aging in place. When we were 45 we bought a long tern care policy. It had a section for taking care of aging in place with home modifications paid for. We saw my grandmother have to pay for all of this stuff out of pocket and she struggled because they said she made too much money for help yet she couldn't really afford all this stuff either. It was a crazy situation. That and the fact that when she needed full time care my parents could only afford a place for 5K a month which was awful. To think that 60K a year is an awful place. It shocked us. We needed to be shocked to realize what was ahead of us. We ran out and got this Cadillac of a policy for fear this would be us. Of course we haven't used it but I am certain there will be a time we will have to. I am thankful I was startled into this or we would never be able to afford it now. We got in before age 50 which keeps this at a price that is ridiculously low. Rick installs grab bars weekly for people and when we need them at least he can install them, hopefully for us :-)

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    1. Unless Rick is the one who needs the grab bars and he can't do the work required to install them. I don't think long-care policies like yours are very common. Good for you!

      "It's all about the beyond"---boy, isn't that the truth! I suppose people don't change toweling and bed linens often enough to just carry them.

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  2. That refurbished chest is beautifully done and looks terrific.

    I applaud you for all the safety features, and think they're wise. I currently help my mother (Alzheimer diagnosis, 88 yrs. old), who lives with my brother with her showers. He had to retrofit his bathroom for her safety, and there could be a dozen grab bars in there and it would still maybe not be where she wants to hold on.

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    1. Thanks. That was the kind of chest that held a bowl of water for people to bath in their bedrooms. When I show my bedroom redo you'll see the medicine chest that went above it. 1800s.

      Lots of people think one grab bar is enough but if you're falling it helps to have more and longer ones.

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  3. Hope by now your new bed is all set up and you and Levi are adjusting.
    I'm like Levi and hate all the falderal of change but I love the end product. Cool shower curtain and grab bars are important.

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    1. The bed is set up as of five minutes ago, but the mattresses don't come until Tuesday.

      I love my shower curtain...and it was my second choice. The first design was of a life-sized, empty beach chair looking out at the ocean. But it was printed wrong so I sent it back. A happy accident.

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  4. Levi will eventually get used to everything. Everything looks wonderful Jean especially all the safety things that you have in the washroom. When we built this place, there were no safety devices in the washroom area. When I started falling down we changed everything. There are many bars everywhere for me. Mary Lou bought one of those chairs to be put in the shower if I needed it and thank God it was there when I needed it. Grab bars are very important. I'm shocked how many motels & hotels don't have any safety materials, even a grab bar. I complained about it and when I returned to the same hotel, their were grab bars all over the washroom area. I fell in the washroom in my cabin during my second cruise and I complained to John Heald of Carnival and my third cruise, had a grab bar though not in the right location but at least it was in there. Rest my friend now that all of this is completed. See ya Jean.


    Cruisin Paul

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    1. My attached bedroom is far from completed, Paul, but will be my mid next week.

      When my husband died I thought about removing the shower chair and going back to standing up but I decided I was so used to sitting on his chair that I might as well go for safety first and looks second.

      We had the same trouble traveling with motels. We'd even request the so-called accessible rooms but they were never set up right. Just gave up on traveling. With so many older people who have money to cruise you'd think the cruise lines would put more thought into their bathrooms.

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    2. I agree Jean but unfortunately it's still the dollar bill that they want even though they say that they are doing so much for their guests. See ya Jean and keep safe.


      Cruisin Paul

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  5. We have a Cadillac long-term care policy and the price has gone through the roof even though we started in our 50's. They want us to downgrade (go from lifetime to limited-term and no inflation protection) to save money, but we figure if we never need it we will be happy. It includes home care, but we live in an apartment with no grab bars, so I don't know how feasible that part would be. Thanks for all the information, you're doing a great service!

    I hope the rest of the remodel goes smoothly and that you can enjoy it for years.

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    1. My biggest fear with those long-term care policies is that they won't be in business when you need them. But then I'm a worry-wart by nature.

      Unless your state laws are different than many/most, apartment owners have to put up grab bars if you request them.

      My project is going well but it's sure easier when you have an extra pair of hands to help.

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  6. Your room is really looking nice Jean. Can't wait to see the rest.

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    1. Thanks. I should have taken some before and after. I moved part of the early gas station decor to the laundry room and will sell the rest on eBay.

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  7. Your bathroom looks fabulous and I love every single touch. Especially the watercolor and that neat toilet bar thing. And especially also your chest. I have NO room in the bathroom for anything like that. And yes, I hear you on the wheelchair thing. Though it hasn't been necessary yet, I can see how that would be a big deal. I'm lucky my house has a step-in shower (vs. tub, though I have that, too) and is one floor (intentional choice) but the doors are all pretty narrow, I think. 1964 ranch.

    Love the bed. My grandparents had one like that and I wish we had it now. Poor Levi. But he'll be glad in the end!

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    1. With your time spent in a wheelchair in England and Rick's recent accident, I'm sure you do understand how important it is to think future needs when redoing our spaces. When needs come up, it's often unexpected. Step in showers are safer than tubs and your one floor living was a great choice.

      Those antique beds are not standard mattress sizes anymore but we have a company who makes mattresses here in town so getting them has never been a problem for purists and full size sheets still fit. The reproductions are all the rage now for people who like vintage.

      Levi used the 'nest' for most of the night last night. Just two more nights and we'll be in the new bed!

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  8. Your bathroom looks great. Before I brought Dad home from the nursing home, I had to get salty bars installed in his bathroom. They were a great help because he had the strength to help when it was time to get him up from his shower seat. He weighed about 220 lbs. and was over six feet tall. A lot to handle. We lucked out and his chair did fit through the door. It was a tight fit, though.

    I believe I've looked at that bed on Wayfair. I was thinking of getting one, but I've decided to get a mattress extender and refinish H's old bed he had when he was a kid. It's a full bed but we have a queen bed. So... a project.
    Nice shower curtain. The chest is great and the watercolor, too. All looks terrific and practical where it's needed. That's a very good combination.

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    1. No marble or hardwood floors but the best redecorating job I could do on my own. Wayfair has quite a few beds based on those old cast iron and brass beds. I'm glad you found a way to make H' old bed work. Summer is coming and you'll be able to do a project like that. I thought of doing the same with the bed I sold after Don's stroke but I had all I could handle back then and didn't foresee a time when it would get done.

      Can't wait to share the photos of my bed all made up...

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  9. Love the bathroom redo, and your iron bed. Someday I want an iron bed again. Right now I am scratching that itch with a cheap but cheerful metal bed from IKEA - the white Leirvik one every young girl starting out in life owns (or so it seems). How cheap you ask? Well, the bedding cost more than the bed frame (which I got on sale) - that's how cheap!

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    1. Thanks! A bed cheaper than the bedding? Are you sure it isn't made for a dollhouse? On a TV show, In the Middle, the wife bought a dining room table she thought was full size, but it turned out to be doll house furniture. LOL Those white girlie beds are so tempting. I almost bought white iron but it would have stuck out like a sore thumb with all the dark furniture I've accumulated since my childhood iron bed. I can't wait for the big reveal on the finished room. By the way, I got sticker shocked at how much bedding costs!

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    2. Yup! I got my double bed on sale for $150. Then I splurged on some bluebellgray bedding (pillow slips, duvet cover) for $250.00. Together, they sure are feminine and gorgeous!

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  10. This is a really informative post. Everything looks really nice and what needs to be functional really is. I've thought with so many people having various issues such as reflux where head elevation is recommended that having an adjustable bed might be worth the additional expense despite what some consumer reviews say. I realize they eventually likely need service. Other aids, wedges under the regular mattresses or on top, are certainly less expensive but can have issues. Have you had any input on that?

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    1. I never entertained the idea of buying a sleep number mattress, but my friend just bought a queen for over $4,000. (My regular, full size cost $1,000.) They are in their early 50s and like to read in bed. When I had to shop for beds back after my husband's stroke the O.T. strongly advocated/dictated for the proper height (an inch or two below your butt cheek, width (twin---easier for a disabled person because when you sleep you tend to gravitate to the center of the bed) and firmness (easier to push yourself off from). I kept those rules for height and firmness I kept in mind when shopping but I got a full. I grew to love my twin but I'm vane enough to want the room to look nice and a twin would look stupid in a room that could hold a king. If I ever need an elevated head or feet I'll use the wedges.

      If those adjustable beds are anything like the La-Z-Boys that will take you from a sitting position to a standup position, I can attest they are NOT maintenance free and service takes forever. Anything with a motor in it will be like that and too heavy move to boot.

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    2. Thanks. I have friends who bought one of those sleep number beds, too, with lots of other features that’s I presume would make it even more expensive than just an elevating HOB — includes a bend lower to keep body from sliding (can be a problem with wedges). He’s large and she’s petite so can adjust their sides separately and think other features. So far, after a year or more, they’ve loved it, but recently they had a problem with the feature on his side that raises and lowers the height of the whole bed. He got stuck close to floor. Yeah, the more gadgets and features the more that can go wrong, whether car, bed, etc., especially if they haven’t worked out all the glitches when new design and if any recommended service not kept up.

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    3. Interesting! You can also get such in positions during power outrages, too. My friend was telling me the sheets for sleep numbers are several hundred dollars and you can't use anything else. With different features/controls on the two sides the fitted sheet is a totally different shape that other sheets...like a pie shaped added in the middle.

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  11. I'm so far behind in my blog reading! Love this one. LOVE the remodel updates and LOVE your advice for being ready for accessiblity before it's needed. You are wise, my friend.

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    1. Only wise from being a mentor on a site where I saw a lot of people suffer added stress waiting for adjustments to their homes and hearing experts talk on these issues. You also don't have to be old to break a leg and need some extra perks in the bathroom.

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  12. Maybe I'll get inspired to get moving on my own house projects by seeing your great results. Love the watercolor you've hung in the bathroom, and the shower curtain is inspired.

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  13. It took me longer to pick out that shower curtain than anything else I bought. I knew it would set the tone for all the rest. Good luck with your rooms.

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