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, April 3, 2019

Life is Good in my Hood


When I was growing up, I helped my mom with housework and we changed the bed sheets every Saturday. It was an unwritten rule I obeyed all of my life until I started having arm pain last summer when I did certain things including making my bed with its heavier-than-lead thick mattress. I’ll skip the details about my long-ago failed surgery and say that following my bone doctor’s life-time restriction of not lifting anything above my waist and retraining myself not to do any motion that causes pain has gone well. Except I couldn’t figure out a work-around for putting clean sheets on the bed so I’d put that job off until my house cleaning service girl was coming which meant that with the exception of the pillow cases I was only getting clean bedding once a month.

I found heaven a few days ago. I’ve had my new bed just over a week now and I changed my sheets after five days of using them. Doing so all by myself with a lighter weight mattress I could walk entirely around was so blissful I turned it into a meditation session, smoothing out even the tiniest wrinkles and making the best hospital corners my bed has seen in a year. I was coming home to myself and the ‘welcome mat’ of crawling into clean sheets that night, knowing I can have that serene feeling anytime I want, was powerful. I laid there thinking about how we take so many things like that for granted and it was on the tip of my tongue to say, "God is good" but I didn't because I don't buy into the personification of the word ‘God.’ To me it makes more sense to say, “God is goodness.”

My thoughts wandered as I lay there to a story in the news about what the police found when they raided a house because the owners failed to take their son from an Urgent Care center to the hospital as instructed. Little kids were laying in their own vomit because their parents were too stupid or lazy to change their sheets and take proper care of their kids. If God is good, why do innocent kids have to suffer poor parents? If God is good why does He help some victims of abuse or neglect and not others? To me, it’s better to think of God as the combined goodness of mankind---a random thing at times, a planned thing other times. Either way, the intrinsic value of goodness spreads so slowly over a single person’s lifetime that we often miss seeing that the power goodness is building upon itself with each century that passes. Hard to believe, but there was a time when outsiders wouldn’t have stepped in between what a parent does with or to their kids. Okay, so I went from an idyllic memory of doing housework with my mom to challenging a traditional belief system. It’s time to find something new to write about. 

How about I write about four woman with beautiful spirits and the wills to do adventurous things but who have bodies meant for staying home and reading a book, who climbed the tallest mountain in their state yesterday. They laughed as the butterflies at the top of the mountain welcomed the person to their lair who had the prettiest hat and they cried silently thinking about how their old bodies would feel the next day. But in between they were grateful to share the experience with good friends who were all equally proud that they were able to plant a flag of triumph on their adventure. And they thanked the gods of wheels and walkers that helped make the adventure possible. 

Let me translate the above paragraph. Yesterday three of my Gathering Girls pals and I went to the Butterflies in Bloom Exhibit and to lunch at the sculpture garden. What we didn’t count on was all the construction going on which meant from the handicapped parking lot we had to walk 1,500 steps (according to my Fitbit) just to get to the main door, a walk that used to be around 300 feet. They are going from 140,000 square foot of buildings to 230,000. Mind you one of my friends has severe back issues, another severe lung issues and one just finished her second round of chemo. She was the one wearing the multi-colored hat, having just had her head shaved. It actually gave me chills that the butterflies were fluting around her head and landing, even going for rides as we made our way through the huge, glass-domed tropical garden. 

People were pointing her hat out to children and each other, taking pictures of the live butterflies covering her hat and giving her the celebrity treatment with friendly chatter. No one was looking at her with pity because in any other setting it would have been obvious she was wearing a chemo hat. In the garden, the chemo hat was transformed into a joyous thing, a stroke of genius to wear it. Maybe the butterflies couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t get any nectar from that hat as they walked around the bands of neon colors, but I prefer to believe they were helping her heal. The whole experience was positive energy from the universal, goodness directed her way when she needed it the most. ©

32 comments:

  1. Oh Jean this post is why I love you.So many positive things.
    I am thrilled you were able to make your bed. I know I would normally joke I wish I couldn't make my bed, but now that I am aging I don't want to not do anything, even those awful chores.
    I loved the butterflies on your friends hat. I would have just loved seeing that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could share the photo of her butterfly hat and of the four of us together, sitting in the gardens looking like the Golden Girls. But I'm committed to protecting the privacy of the people I write about even as I spill their stories all over the internet. LOL

      Delete
  2. The Simple Things...when I was teaching at a huge urban high school, I learned how Simple they weren't. Many of my students did not have the experience of a family meal, a quiet place to study, or even a parent at home on a regular basis. It's good to reflect on common Good Things.

    Your triumph at the butterfly gardens is a wonderful memory for all of you, and well worth the trek. What a lovely day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teachers hear it all, don't they. It's no wonder teachers end up spending their own money to help some of their student where they can. Those of us who have average lives do take too much for granted.

      Don't tell anyone I went to see the butterflies because I'm going again later this month with my youngest niece and hopefully her sister will be able join us.

      Delete
  3. Good morning Jean. I make our bed every day and on Saturday I take the sheets off to be washed. I've been doing that for years. I agree with you, getting into bed feels so great.
    Now this thing about " God is good ", to me God created us and gave us free choice. We as humans have to grow in this world and hopefully choice the right decisions. Many people in our world unfortunately make wrong decisions. To me, God is good or God is goodness are the same. To be able to still be here in this world where I shouldn't be here, says a lot about God to me. I wonder if I make any sense. Sorry about that Jean.
    I feels bad that you & your Gathering Girls pals had to walk to far. I hope that seeing the butterflies were great. Well, I need to go and get a massage since I fell two weeks ago. My head seems to feel OK but at times it still hurts. My left side hurts a lot but hopefully gets better because golf will be starting soon for me. See ya my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Golf cures everything, Paul. LOL

      You make sense Paul, you live up the the teachings of your church and that's important.

      One of our friends got half way up the long path (about two blocks long and partly up hill) to get the main gate and she turned around and went home. I worry that the place will get so big it won't be fun to visit anymore. It will be a long time before they get the parking situation ironed out.

      Delete
  4. So glad that the lighter bed has made such a difference. I have a bad shoulder also and if I didn't have my Tucker, don't know how often I'd get clean sheets. But is there a better feeling--especially that first night.
    Proud of you girls tackling the obstacle and being rewarded with the butterflies' special attention. Wish you could show the picture also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After you posted about the Tucker I found a wide wooden paddle in my kitchen that works really good. I put a string on it and have it hanging just inside my closet. I've been using it every day since.

      I'm proud of us too.

      Delete
  5. I often comment that if I wasn't so lazy or if I could afford hired help, I would have freshly laundered AND ironed bedding every day. "I was coming home to myself and the ‘welcome mat’ of crawling into clean sheets..." - Love it. I am very mindful of the failing abilities that come with aging. And then there was more as you painted a picture of the butterflies landing on your friend's hat. Delightful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "if I could afford help" daydream is wonderful, isn't it. Clean sheets every day would sure be a luxury few could afford.

      I don't think I've ever slept in ironed sheets and being a person who never bought all-cotton sheets until this past month, I never understood the need. What a difference! Cotton wasn't an intentional purchase. I was only concerned with getting the color I wanted.

      Delete
  6. I love your blogs Jean, I know you must be sick & tired of me saying this, but your blogs always inspire me to become better version of myself. I am so happy for all of you, that you all created that wonderful butterfly memory with hat which covers scars of the battles she is fighting so courageously. It felt like those butterflies were giving her strength & letting her know she is doing right thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No way could I get sick of compliments from you. I've inspire you and you've inspired me. You helped me understand some of the emotions Don went threw post-stroke when he lost his language to tell me on his own and I'll always be grateful for that.

      Those butterflies were symbolic, for sure.

      Delete
  7. Hooray! So many wonderful things ... fresh sheets! NEVER underestimate that feeling. Luckily I have a strong young man to make my bed as the mattress is SO heavy.

    So great to have a lucky hat for the butterflies! And kids. Magical, really. Too bad one member just couldn't do the walking. I know you will share the photos with her.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't share the photos with anyone because I can't figure out how to do that from my cell phone...most where sent to me from one of the other ladies' phone while we were in the park. Next time I'll know to take my own photos, then I think I could email them to myself and/or others.

      Your un-son-in-law is really handy to have around the house.

      Delete
  8. What a beautiful post Jean. From your appreciation of what most of us take for granted to your story of 4 women climbing their personal mountain and reaping the rewards...
    Thank you. I needed that today.

    Deb

    ReplyDelete
  9. I can get really grumpy about institutions and businesses that don't bother to make workable arrangements for accessible parking during construction -- but I'm glad you all managed to get there despite the obstacles. Love the story of the hat and the butterflies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They really made it hard for everyone, not just the elderly. The 1,500 steps was just the entry ramp/walkway. The parking lot can easily take you 10 minutes to walk just to get to the walkway across the construction. They really need s shuttle to cruise the parking lot and take people to the walkway and a few golf carts to shuttle on the walkway. They had wheelchairs and walkers to borrow at each end of the walkway and that was our saving grace.

      Delete
  10. In it's "simplicity" - this writing is thought provoking & just beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Post-stroke changing fitted sheets one handed is very difficult so weeks go by before it gets done. Even regular sheets are hard, lifting the mattress with the same hand you are putting the sheet under is entertaining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the mattress lifter tool they sell on Amazon would be about the only way you could put a fitted sheet on using just one hand. It's a pie-shapped wedge you shove in to hold the top mattress up, but it would still take a lot of practice and patience. Good to hear from you again.

      Delete
  12. That butterflies and chemo hat story is wonderful, and may I say I know that God is good. We can have different views on that and still enjoy each other's blog posts, and learn stuff along the way. I too find it a bit hard dealing with a heavy mattress and hadn't thought of choosing a light weight mattress. Good idea, ah, clean sheets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went through the mattress store lifting mattresses up one handed. There will never, ever be a thick one in my lift again.

      I love blogs reading other people's blogs for the same reasons you've mentioned.

      Delete
  13. I love the story about your friend and the butterflies. That's one to hold in the heart for multiple reasons -- to remind us that people who have far greater challenges than I might do tough things everyday and that the world can see beauty first. No one wants to be noticed for what they can't do but for what they can. Those butterflies didn't care and clearly your friend's gift was that she was a butterfly magnet -- and we all wish we could do that!

    I hate changing sheets too. Love it when it's done but the act of doing it is a pain! Well done, you, with your new bed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I go to the Butterfly exhibit every year wearing something I think the butterflies will love but they never have like they did her neon hat. She was a neon magnet! It really was a magical thing to see.

      Delete
  14. Sounds like a delightful butterfly visit despite the obstacles. How we view challenges, the descriptive language we use strongly influences how we experience life I believe, to find the goodness you perceive.

    Lovely photos earlier of your redecorating, new bed, etc. Glad you can easily change sheets now. I miss the fresh air aroma from when I used to hang my sheets outdoors to quickly dry when we lived in Arizona. I could do the same here in So Cal but have never put up a line plus would be more troublesome. Just occurs to me, maybe I should just get a folding rack to set out on my patio — h-m-m — no reaching, no clothespins needed though I still have all kinds of those.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't smelled the smell of sun dried laundry in years but I remember there being nothing like it. so sweet! Here, it's against the law to have clothes lines outside. Go for the folding rack on the patio!

      Delete
  15. Nothing beats fresh sheets! And hospital corners! I'm thrilled for you. And yes, the simplest things are worthy of note and of our gratitude, aren't they?

    I love the "picture" of you and your friends at the butterfly garden. And the image of that hat on your friend experiencing cancer must have been moving and lovely. I too like to think they were helping her heal -- in spirit AND body!

    I go round and round about "god". I've decided "something" started all this, but we are pretty much on our own in deciding whether to do good or not. I also think we have the most rudimentary understanding of all of it. The whole "god" thing seems very naive and immature as an explanation of human experience. I'm fascinated by theories of Quantum physics -- just sometimes not smart enough to sort it all out! LOL

    I just try to do good. That's seems safe and useful for this lifetime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you on the "God thing" and quantum physics.

      I still love making my bed. Now I have work on quit buying pretty sheets. Lol

      Delete