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, May 29, 2019

From Memorial Day to the Bachelorette Season 15


A few years ago I wrote a Memorial Day post and in it I said, “From personal experience I know that raw grief dissipates over time, but a tiny piece of my heart also goes back to grief from time to time in the form of wistfulness for what might have been.” I’ve been feeling a lot of wistfulness the past few months and I can’t decide if t comes from watching too many Hallmark Movies or if I’m watching them because I’m wistful. I miss love! I miss eye contact and hugs and the kind of conversations that happen without words because you’ve known the other person so long you can read each other like books. Your gestures, your body language, and the way your eyes turn different colors when you are happy or mad or sad. You can’t fool someone who has known and loved you for years. Sure, Hallmark Movies are formula driven but one could argue that actually falling in love and maintaining that love for years, is formula driven, too.

Speaking of formula TV, let’s talk about the new season 15 of the Bachelorette with Hannah, the former Miss Alabama. She started out with 30 guys to pick from and on the second show she had them in speedos walking a pageant runway. Do women these days really pick out their life partners by the size of their packages? In her case, it might be true. She sure has been doing a shocking amount of the full-body making out for so early in the show. I have a love/hate relationship with the Bachelorette and Bachelor franchises. They and American Idol are the only reality TV shows I watch and every year I say I’m not getting caught up in the “B” shows. But half the time, I still do. Maybe I'm pretending I get to pick from the 30 guys and, trust me, this season I wouldn’t have ANY trouble knocking 8-10 out of the running because of their “careers.” What is a ‘car bid spotter’ for example or a ‘roller boy’? The ‘pro-surfer’ plus the unemployed guys would be out the door by the second rose ceremony as well as the guy who just professed that he’s "already falling in love" with Hannah and “you can trust me.” 

If I was to wake up tomorrow young and beautiful like Hannah and was in her place, I’d make quick work of that show. It would have ended already because I’d pick 28 year old Tyler G., a psychology graduate student working towards getting his PhD in psychology to become a clinical psychologist. He has a side business in Dream Therapy Analysis and you know how much I like my dreams. All these guys have profiles on the Network’s fan page and his reads: “Tyler G. is a very laid-back guy with a go-with-the-flow kind of attitude. He avoids clubs at all costs and would much rather spend time reading, going to Soul Cycle or relaxing on his boat. Tyler considers himself a modern romantic and is looking for his equal match, who he says is a confident girl that isn't afraid to lay it all out on the table and is one that can make him laugh.”

But Hannah eliminated him this week, on the third show, because behind the scenes he was accused on a message board by a high school girlfriend of being "extremely misogynist" which just goes to show I make bad decisions based on first impressions and/or in this age of social media teenagers can never outgrow their past miss-behaviors. Hannah, however, kept the psycho-stalker last night when she threw Tyler to the curb. Go figure. There’s always a psycho-stalker type on these shows. A woman or man who cuts into other people’s time and who stirs up trouble because psycho-stalker can’t play fair in the sandbox. Am I invested in this waste-of-time show or what? And it's only week three!

I would argue that show (and Hallmark Movies) are not really a waste of my time. It’s a mindless diversion from watching too many political shows. It’s an opportunity once a week to throw popcorn at the TV screen (which the dog cleans up) and to remember what it was like on the dating scene before I met my husband. Not that the show is anything like clubbing was back in the ‘60s but reading the body language of these guys and trying to figure out if they are handing Hannah a line or if the producers are manipulating everything, or not, keeps me watching. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in communications, she’s not stupid but Hannah sure seems too shallow at times. Her platform for her year as Miss Alabama was to “advocate for those suffering from depression and anxiety, something she battled with during her teenage years.” I once dated three guys at the same time and that filled me with anxiety and she’s trying to ‘date 30 guys at once? Nothing like jumping feet first into an active volcano.

Back to Memorial Day. It snuck up on me. The weather has been too cold to think about the beginning of summer which this holiday weekend usually signals. Or maybe that’s just an excuse for wanting to avoid going to the cemetery. I was there a month or two ago and it needs work, sod was taking over the stone. But I wasn’t exaggerating about feeling a lot of wistfulness and I’m not sure I want to pair that wistfulness with spending time digging up sod around Don’s grave marker. I’ll go but I want to do it on a nice, warm sunny day and if that warm day doesn’t come until July? I’ll probably not be able to find the darn stone! ©

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Public Service Announcement from my OB/GYN


Bloggers will blog about the most personal things going on in their lives and just to prove it I’m going to tell you all about an appointment I had this week for “down there”---my first since I turned 65 when I was told I no longer needed them because I didn’t have any of the risk factors for developing the HIV or HPV viruses. The HIV and HPV cells are what the PAP smear looks for because they can turn cancerous. What was the Litmus Test I passed for stopping the PAP smears besides having a birthday? I’d had three clear Pap tests in the previous ten years, did not have multiple sex partners and I wasn’t exposed to the drug, diethylstilbestrol (DES) back in my past to prevent pregnancy complications. None of that stuff has changed since I turned 65, still it’s been weighing on my mind since my friend started chemo treatments for cervical cancer that I’ve been ignoring something “down there” for a year and a half. Not a common sign of cancer but still in the realm of a possibilities and darn embarrassing to discuss with doctors. Okay, this is going to get graphic soon so consider this to be a PSA to all the ladies out there who ignore things you shouldn't and/or you build them up in your mind to be a worst case scenario.

Women gynecologists are sure different than men gynecologists, aren’t they. This was the first female I’ve ever seen for “down there.” Instead of having me wait with my feet in the stirrups, barely covered with a paper gown, ready for a doctor to come in and stick his nose “down there” this female doctor’s nurse had me wait sitting on the end of the exam table in a clothe gown big enough for two of me. When the doctor came in she asked about my sexual history since my last PAP smear, careful to point out that many viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) which are known to cause cervical cancer can be transferred by lips and trading sex toys as well as through coitus. When I heard the word 'coitus' I thought of Sheldon on the Big Band Theory but I never thought I'd hear it used in real life. "Nope, no worries there," I told her. She explained that the results of my PAP smear and a biopsy on something I was guessing were genital warts would be back in two days and she outlined the next steps if they came back positive, negative or one of each. Genital warts can be cancerous, but I was more concerned that getting them removed would be #1 on my list of ‘The Most Embarrassing Things I Did This Summer.’

Oh, she also said if you get those viruses after 65 that they take so long to turn into cancerous cells that a woman would be died of other causes first. In other words---and the following words are mine, not hers---the medical community is willing to let older women die of cervical cancer in her 80s because we have to die from something and those PAP smear tests aren't cost effective for our insurance carriers if we acquire those viruses after 65.

Back to the stirrups... Within seconds of her having me lay back and bare myself “down there” she says, “You don’t have cancer. You don’t have genital warts. You have Cervical Milia. Benign, perfectly harmless stuff that only matters if you’re making your living as a porn star.” I couldn’t see “down there” but over the past year that didn’t stop me from consulting Dr. Google for images. At one point I thought about putting a new meaning to the term 'taking a selfie' so I could see what I could feel. I quickly nixed that idea for fear I’d accidentally send it out in mass to everyone in my address book. When I told the doctor that she said she’s had patients request she take a photo with their phones and she’ll do it with the stipulation that she can personally deleted it after the patient looks at it. I didn’t take the phone photo option so she pulled up some photos on her computer of Eyelid Milia. Apparently you can get them all over your body. They are cyst-like brown or white bumps---often found in clusters---caused when keratin or skin flakes becomes trapped under the skin. They won’t go away and if you go through the trouble, expense and pain of having them removed, they will probably come back.

The doctor didn’t even do the PAP smear because she said it wasn’t necessary, said she’s seen thousands of Cervical Milias and hundreds of Vulva Melanomas---say, what?!---and genital warts and I don't have the latter two. I couldn’t believe it. After fearing that appointment for nearly two months---a year, really---I was walking out without the damn PAP smear? She said if I had the Milia on my face I could start a regiment of micro-exfoliating scrubs to prevent more of them, but where they are located “down there” the only preventative thing I can do is to make sure my underwear isn’t too tight. (Could that be why some ladies like granny panties?) Wearing a pad 24/7 can also contribute to their formation. She could send me to a dermatologist, she said, who specializes in crud “down there” but I passed on that idea because I'm not a porn star who needs to look good "down there" and other than an undertaker and maybe a few people in the medical community before I go in the back door of a funeral parlor, no one is going to be looking “down there” again. 

But now I have another problem: what to title this post so that it doesn’t attract perverts and online escort services. That happens when you put certain words in the title line and first paragraph. I learned that lesson in reverse a long time ago when I took a mini course on how to get your internet content indexed higher in the search engines.

Did you learn anything new from my PSA or did I embarrass myself for nothing?   ©

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Money Pit May Continues and my POMS Movie Review


I’ve already written about Money Pit May when I blogged about the checks I wrote for the veterinarian ($452.42) and a half season of grass cutting ($365.00) and to that I can now add $600.00 to have a tree cut down and a dozen trash saplings removed and the roots ground up. The city also inspected my irrigation system and decided my overflow value wasn’t high enough---it took them 18 years of inspections to decide that?---and the replacement will happen later this week to the tune of $250.00 or face hefty fines. It’s a good thing Money Pit May comes on the heels of April Refund Month. 

All that was in addition to the normal cost of keeping up a house, car, the dog and myself. And did I mention that I went a little wonky buying stuff when the president put tariffs on goods made in China, knowing the prices are going up 25% sooner rather than later? I can’t live without socks and underwear that fit right and won't give me pressure hives, and the kind I like are hard enough to find without two governments having a pissing contest. If I still wore nylon stockings I’d probably be stockpiling them as well. During the Korean War my mom started hoarding nylon stockings because of the silk stockings shortage she went through during WWII. I still have an unopened pair of nylons tucked away in my sock drawer. They don’t take up much room and the memories they invoke are bittersweet.

I also bought an extra solar powered phone charger because all electronics---especially battery related---are going up too. I don’t shop Walmart but they’ve already announced their tariff-driven price increases. I blame my mom for my scared-of-the-trade-war purchases because for decades after WWII she was still making me take zippers and buttons off clothing that were destine for the rag bag. She made a lot of our clothing during the war but finding ways to fastened them was tough, thus the wrap front dresses that were popular for home sewers like her. She even made herself and me two piece bathing suits with a tie front tops. The whole point of this and the previous paragraph is point out that the concept of impeding shortages due to embargoes or other things beyond my control is ingrained deep in my personality.

Speaking of shortages, fun has been is short supply this past month but I tried to put an end to that this week with mixed results. I had plans to go to lunch and to see the movie ‘Poms’ with my Gathering Girls pals. But for the first time in the two plus years since we started going out twice a month all but two of us was absent. One friend was out of town, another was having oral surgery, three were sick and another couldn’t make the time. And so it starts, the beginning of the end to happy little group. The other woman who was left---who I had lunch with before seeing the movie---was new to our group two weeks ago so we were practically strangers. I thought lunch would be awkward but we managed to keep a good conversation going as we compared life experiences. She’s a widow two years out and is at the point where she’s recently sold her house, moved to a condo and it trying to pull her new life together. In widow circles, this stage is often said to be harder than the first year. Everything that needs doing when a spouse dies is done, the raw grief is gone and you have the rest of your life ahead of you to reinvent.

The ‘POMS’ movie was based on a true story and the synopsis for the film at Rotten Tomatoes reads, “POMS is an uplifting comedy about Martha (played by Diane Keaton), a woman who moves into a retirement community and starts a cheerleading squad with her fellow residents, Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), Olive (Pam Grier) and Alice (Rhea Perlman), proving that it's never too late to follow your dreams.” They gave the film a two-star rating but they’re notoriously low on ratings of any film that features mostly senior actors. I didn’t expect more than a few laughs from the movie and a kick-in-the butt reminder to make the most of my time and energy so I was not disappointed nor was my "movie mate." The most memorable line: “Look death in the face and tell it to go to hell!” 

The New York Times reviewer was less kind than Rotten Tomatoes when she wrote: “The combined ages of the cheerleaders in “POMS” is well over 500 years, but the movie’s jokes feel even older. An uncomfortable blend of sickness and silliness, this dancing-past-the-graveyard comedy suggests that the many travails of aging can be endured if you only gather enough friends and surrender enough dignity.” Really? Young people can hang out with friends and act less than dignified and that’s okay, but it’s not ‘age appropriate’ if you're in your 70s or 80s? I wanted to know how old that (snobby) reviewer was and I found out she’s 67 which explains a lot---she’s afraid of getting old. Well join the club, lady! The alternative sucks so you might as well gather up your friends and be silly while you still have them. ©