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, June 22, 2019

Beginnings and Endings

I got the email announcing the movie my Movie and Lunch Club picked this month---Men in Black---which I have no interest in and no time to spend an afternoon out and about just for the human contact. Not only did I reply that I won’t make it this month but I also asked them to take me off the email list. I don’t have any close friends in the club. It was just a way to go to movies without having to go alone. I can always join again. It’s a sponsored club through the senior hall with no membership limit.

And did I mention I had new friends to make? Wednesday I met twenty-three of my future neighbors at one of the ‘guided conversations’ the CCC holds for the people who, like me, have committed with cash in hand to moving in. I was anxious to see how they dressed. K-Mart or Macy? Turned out to be somewhere in between. Mostly it was ladies who came but there were five guys, too. One of them made a crack about Trump that made me laugh and the sales representative put her fingertips on her forehead and bowed her head as if to say, “There goes grandpa again stirring up trouble.” Everyone I talked to one-on-one seemed to have the same worries I do. Did I pick the right unit? Can I get downsized in time? Will I time the sale of my house right? I am sure I’m going to fit in just fine, personality wise. 

One of the best things about all the units having the same move-in date is we get to influence the direction of the social activities, etc. This particular guided conversation, however, was all about the food the two restaurants will put on their menu. Oh! My! God! They served us a light lunch and it was do die for. They plan to raise many of their fruits, vegetables and herbs in the complex, in raised beds and we can help tend them if we want. Hey wait a minute, that’s what the old poor farms used to do! Now it’s considered 'upscale' to grow their own? The level of thought they’ve put into things is amazing like having a long community, farm house table in the café so no one has to eat alone, if they don’t want to. My husband and I ran into small town restaurants Out West that did that and the locals encouraged us to sit with them. It was fun even though it was probably part of their entertainment to quiz people just passing through town. We got to see the farm house table concept work at a bed-and-breakfast a few years back too.

The menus at the two CCC restaurants will rotate every three months and because this place is a non-profit the food will be priced well below traditional restaurants. It will be a two-tier pricing system where residents will have a food card to swipe, like running a monthly tab we pay with our rent. The first $200 a month is free. Non-residents pay cash at a higher rate. The chefs will also cater anything we might want to take to a family potluck. And get this…if anyone has a family recipe they miss the head chef is willing to put it on the menu for a day. When I told my niece that she said, “Like peas and peanuts?” My mom once made it for a family potluck but she didn’t own up to making it. We were all guessing and it became a family joke. It took a few years for the truth to finally come out. 

The next day after the ‘guided conversation’---which they call some fancy word that starts with ‘s’ that I still can’t say much less spell---my niece came to town to meet me for lunch and for a tour at my future home. She was duly impressed and is happy that I’ll be living on the south side of town. While we were in the sales office they showed me something I hadn’t seen before…large boards mocked-up with samples of flooring, counter tops, carpeting, paint, back splashes, etc. each board coordinated around a different neutral. I picked “my” color scheme board and it goes perfectly with all the new stuff I bought for my bedroom redecorating project last winter. The color board also goes with my wicker furniture that I plan to use instead of traditional living room stuff, and the minute I got home I knew I’ll be buying a new La-Z-Boy instead of new cushions for the wicker. The wicker furniture is really porch furniture but the settee was my grandfathers and a side chair and a “flower box” came from my husband’s family and I love them. My grandfather lived with us when I was a toddler and died before I was three. Me sitting in the youth chair (below) while he sat on the settee above is the only memory I have of any of my grandparents. He was the only one still alive when I was born. I think that’s why the furniture means so much to me. My best friend growing up had wonderful grandparents and I had a jealous void that was never filled.

I finally got around to calling my doctor about that persistent cough I’ve had since April when I was so sick---one of the reasons I finally admitted I need to move to where I’m not so isolated, the four-day power outage in the middle of winter being the other reason. Anyway, the saga I went through to get the prescription started with the doctor ordering a drug that got pulled from the market. Took a whole seven days of mix ups involving two pharmacies, three emails, two phone calls and a fruitless trip to the drugstore to finally get a new prescription. Funny how I could go for nearly eight weeks putting up with the cough but when I finally decided to do something about it I got all twitchy bitchy and annoyed because I couldn’t get it the next day. ©

My childhood chair with the flower box in the background that's full of rocks.

27 comments:

  1. I am so intrigued with the retirement home concept. I am really enjoying your posts.

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    1. In the past our senior hall arranged for group tours to continuum care places but I found this one on my own. I would not have recognized how good of a deal this was if I had not seen other places. The non-profit aspect of this one really sets it apart from the others, but I've also seen some for profit ones I liked if they had been in a better location for my family. Anyone can tour a place on their own.I was worried if I waited too long the baby boomers would create a shortage.

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  2. Sounds like things are coming together nicely! When I was on vacation in Newfoundland recently, one of the nicest meals I had was at a communal table. We didn't have reservations at this popular restaurant and were just happy to get seated. I got to meet locals and fellow travellers and we talked up a storm. I would do that again in a heartbeat.

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    1. That was our experience with community tables as well. Never seen that in Michigan and judging by the conversation this brought forth at the luncheon no one else had experience with them besides me and the head dude of the complex who was leading the conversation.

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  3. How lovely to be able to choose the finishes for your next home and get to know some of the other residents in advance.

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    1. Isn't it and worth waiting for since I'm not ready to move tomorrow anyway. The construction company has a stellar reputation in town, too, which takes the fear out how it will turn out.

      It's nice we're all going in as newbies because there will be no "clicks" formed to break into so to speak.

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  4. Now that is a GREAT idea! Meeting up with future neighbors (did you wear Walmart or Macy’s?). Your whole building will be the Freshman Class!

    How many buildings are there? How many units per building? Was there a range of ages in your group? I’m so glad you still make time to blog!! Thank you as I know you are swamped!!!

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    1. I'm more K-Mart. At the rate I'm losing weight since I paid my money down I'm hoping I'll need a whole new wardrobe by move-in. Wouldn't that be something!

      There are four buildings in a T shape with an outdoor entertaining area where they come together. There are 7 units on my floor, 2 floors above, with a total of 70 units in the complex. Two units face the lake. My unit is on the back side of one of those---in the cheap seats---and the sidewalk to get to the lake walk not all that far from my door and if I go the other way I can hook up with the wooded trail. If you walk the entire way around the lake it's mile. The walk is already there and busy from what I see.

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  5. Sounds like it is all coming together. Will you have more meetings with the new owners? Of course that could take away the newbienes.

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    1. Yup. Every two months they are going to have guided conversations: one about the landscaping, another about the exercise gym, another about the art studio, etc. It's smart since you pay your money so far in advance going out there every so often will keep reminding us what we're waiting for. These are perks only for the first 30% who signed up because they had to have that many to get their bank funding sealed. Signing up early saved us all roughly $10,000 and the perks of picking out our own finishes. After that next two units are sold newbies won't have the same deal.

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  6. I’m really excited for you. I really like the sound of it. We have a not for profit independent living place for seniors nearby. My mother lived there the last 5 years of her life (moving from Florida to be near us). It was run really well. It was a really good place to live. The care and interest that they are taking with you is admirable.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I have a lot to do to get ready but having committed with a down payment will keep me forced. I'm totally pleased that I found a pretty place that they say I can afford long term. I wonder why there ain't more non-profits around. Glad one worked out good for your family.

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  7. I'm happy and excited for you! I'm glad you found such a great place.

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  8. Sounds like a good fit, which is most important I think.

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    1. It will be right down to the art studio in the complex.

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  9. How smart they are to get future neighbors together to start building community before move-in day. I've noticed that several of the retirement communities I've visited make special efforts to help residents get to know one another. I laughed at your comparison of pitching in to grow food to being sent to the poor farm. One of my standard questions when I visit retirement communities is about the possibilities for gardening. Fortunately for you, there will probably be plenty of people with the itch for gardening, so you won't be pressured into weeding and hoeing. ;-)

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    1. I'm hoping there will someone who will want to grow flowers. When they do the guided conversation about landscaping I'm going to ask. I plan to have flowers on my kitchen table year-around because my table is the first thing you see when you enter the unit. I also plan to walk by gardens and admit everyone's work in hopes of free tomatoes and basil. :)

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  10. Oh it all sounds so wonderful. My senior apartment complex is not so fancy but I really enjoy being around people my age. Several of us own dogs and walk the neighborhood, although my dog is so anti-social. I stop and talk to those living closest to me. I haven't tried to make deep friendships like I should have so word of advice, you sometimes have to not only put yourself out there but push yourself when you just don't want to make the effort. I know this will be wonderful for you.

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    1. Good advice. For me, finding friends will be a challenge... has been my entire life. I like a lot of solitude to write and because I've never had children, that takes a lot of conversation off the table. I'm really excited that they're going to have an art studio on site.

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  11. Was it a Socratic Seminar? (You know how intrigued I am with words!)
    Anyway, it sounds like you are so very enthusiastic that your Joy will help carry you through making some tough decisions about downsizing further.

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    1. I was hoping you'd come along with the answer. :) No, not Socratic Seminar. I think it's a foreign word because I'm pretty sure I've never heard it before. Next time I go out there I will ask the sales rep to write it down for me.

      I've been e-Baying things I've treasured and have been surprised at how easy it's been to let go. I like seeing the money racking up because it will be my last opportunity to make it and I will need it.

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    2. I just got an email recapping everything that was said at the guided conversation and the word they call them is "charette."

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  12. I'm so glad it's working out and you're still so happy! A good sign. And I adore your wicker!

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    1. I knew you'd like it. It will be quirky to use for living room furniture and it's not that comfortable. However, I've never entertained much so does it really matter that the furniture will let people know in 1 1/2 hour that's it's time to go. :) My niece says all I really need is one comfortable chair for me to sit in and if I like looking at the wicker, use it.

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  13. I think your new community sounds perfect and perfectly wonderful. I'm a bit envious... We have lots of places here that are similar, but yours seems to have every amenity I'd be looking for too.

    I have wicker flower box too -- belonged to my grandparents, but may go back yet another generation if I recall my mom's story correctly. I don't use it currently, but can't part with it either.

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    1. Those flower boxes are so cool and aren't restricted to just using flowers. I'm not keeping mine with rocks in it, although my niece is taking some of the special ones to the cottage that she owns but I where I lived every summer growing up. I might fill it back up with bottles a trailing house plant.

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