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, November 23, 2019

Donations, Sleepless Nights and the Travel Club


Last week I took five bags of winter coats, lined sweatshirts, leather vests and wool shirts to Goodwill. Not all six of my husband's Pendleton shirts I had in the front closet got donated but four of them did. I held back his two favorites. It's not like I'm moving tomorrow so I can pull the rest of that "Band-Aid" off later. I also sent a wool coat that was way too big and I wish I hadn’t. I’d forgotten that I actually used it last year during our power outage to wear over another coat, but at the time I was making the decision to donate stuff I was going by the rule: If it doesn’t fit, don’t keep it. Of the seventeen coats in that closet I downsized to eleven with plans to get rid of two more this time next year. They’re old work coats and I still have some outside work to do---painting trim and thinning plants---and by the time I’m through with that, I can throw those coats in the trash. I'll probably let go of even more coats at the same time but for now I'm keeping two for every season plus my go-to-funerals coat.

After I pulled everything out of the closet and put back what I was keeping, I spent the evening sewing up dog toys to donate to the humane society the next time I have another reason to be in their neighborhood. When Levi was younger I used to buy him a new stuffie practically every time I went to the store and he’d chew holes in them just as often. That was back when I was involved in hardcore caregiving my husband and money was more plentiful than time. Levi remembers the toys are in the closet, though, every time I open the door he’s looking for the clothe grocery bag I keep them in. He was full of anticipation as I sewed away then tossed them out one by one for him to inspect but I told him, “Sorry Levi, you only get to keep what will fit in your toy box. No more overflowing box for you!"

The next day I took another hundred books off my library shelves to donate to the public library. When I dropped them off I found out that in addition to selling the collectible books online, any others that don't sell at their local used books sales eventually get donated to World Mission who in turn ships them to 3rd world countries. The gift that keeps on giving. That was my third, hundred book donation to the library and each day of sorting gets harder and harder. Boxing up a hundred books at a time doesn’t sound like a lot of work, at least not enough work that should haven taken a whole day, but I googled a lot of the titles to see if they’re worth trying to sell instead of donating. So far, I've held back about a three dozen for that purpose. Another hundred (?) books will need to be purged before I’m down to what I hope to keep or sell and I'm worried no one will know I'm smarter than I look without my books to give them a clue.

That night I settled in bed around 11:15 ready to watch Saturday Night Live but I woke up to pee just as it was getting over. I never saw a single minute of it! I was restless the rest of the night and around five, I finally gave up on trying to sleep and I got up. My brain just wouldn’t turn off! It kept going over where I can put what pieces of furniture in the unit where I’ll be moving, trying to decide if I'll be keeping the right number of bookcases. I’ve got eight now and I’ll end up with three but one will be set up as a media center and another will be in the laundry room, repurposed for utility shelving. Oak shelving is too classy for a laundry room but why would I sell a good shelf for peanuts, just to take those peanuts to buy a lesser quality utility-style shelf? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Ohmygod, I’m turning into such a boring person! All I can think about is downsizing and I see no end to that kind of dialogue going on inside my head for many months.

I did go to a Travel Club presentation this week. It was a photo slideshow of an African Safari they took last summer. One of my friends in the group went on the trip so I already knew they had a great time and saw lots of interesting things. Another friend in the club wanted to go but they didn’t allow her to sign up for that particular trip---too remote for easy access to doctors. She’s 90 and that woman is always on the go, travels all over the place with no fears or hesitation even though she ends up in ER more times a year than Levi goes in for haircuts. Sometimes I wish I could be as gutsy as she is but she’s got a family who’d come collector her if she had a major medical issue and got left behind in a foreign country by the travel club but poor Levi, my Mighty Schnauzer, couldn’t get a passport if I had to depend on him to do that for me. I’m just sayin’ sometimes two-legged kids are better than four-legged kids.  

But in all seriousness, the seniors I know in the Travel Club---and they're all seniors---who are signing up for two-three trips a year are spending thousands-upon-thousands of dollars on travel and if I did that I'd be worried to death that I'd end up living out of a shopping cart under a bridge. One woman in the club lives in a sketchy neighborhood but she spent all of the insurance money her husband left her on travel and now she can't afford to move to a safer neighborhood and she had to get a job at 77 years old. Everything in life is a trade-off. She was fulfilling her husband's death-bed wish for her. I would have made the same death-bed promise but I would have been lying through my teeth and both my husband and I would have known it. ©

31 comments:

  1. I can just see Levi waiting for each toy to come out of the bag and you looking through 100 books! Your writing is terrific. And you are making such progress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny how you can get lost looking through old books, some I hadn't opened since I bought them and still I didn't want to part with them, but I did. Levi, at least, quickly forgot one toy after another to go on to the next I was sewing up.

      Delete
  2. I've been so deep in the decision making process (sell? keep? donate? toss?) that I really smiled at your coat tale. I ended up keeping all of mine, including those winter coats that make no sense at all down here, unless you count those two days each winter when they get dragged out. Still, two days is two days.

    I finally got a chance to look inside my new apartment this week and I really like it. Signing a lease on a space I'd never seen is quirky, I suppose, but it worked out well. There are pros (including plank flooring, a big patio, and plenty of light) and some cons (small kitchen, no coat closet, a tiny bath) but I never used all the space I had here, so there's that.

    I get the keys next Saturday, will spend the weekend moving the more fragile/sentimental items myself, and then the movers will come on December 2. I finally went public with the news today and posted the last photo of a sunset I'll take from this balcony. Onward!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think it was quirky to sign a lease on a space you've never seen. You know the building, the management, the area and people who live there so half the stuff you didn't have to worry and isn't changing. Glad you found some features inside you like.

      You've got a great plan for moving stuff and an easy time frame to do it in. I bought myself a folding wagon that has been a wonderful tool for hauling stuff to from the library to the car. A luggage cart with a cardboard boxes works too.

      I figure I won't be buying any new coats for the rest of my life and if I don't have the room for them all, it will be easy to downsize them later. I won't have a coat closet either but I plan to put a rack in the near-the-front-door laundry room.

      Delete
  3. Just thought you might want to know...Marie Kondo has stuff for sale now to take the place of all the stuff you threw out while tidying up. :)

    https://shop.konmari.com/collections

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so funny and made my day to look at her stuff that no one really needs. I mean a shiatsu stick for $12? We could whittle one ourselves for free. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  4. My back hurts for you. When I moved I realize the heaviest things I moved were my books and you have enough to open your own library.
    I am kind of coat crazy also. I do have a coat for just about every degree of temperature that could possibly happen. Some people collect shoes, you and I collect coats.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really did have enough for a small library. The library who helped me unload two days in a row said I had more women's history books than they do and I haven't even brought over my best women's history books...may not donate them either. My back didn't hurt as much as stretching out my hands did from picking up several books at a time. They really ached!

      I didn't mean to collect coats but I really do have more coats than I have shoes. We have temperatures as cold at 10 below and temperatures as hot as 80 but raining.

      Delete
  5. Wow...you weren't kidding when you said you had a LOT of books. I admire your tenacity in weeding through them. I have sorted about 50 books this week, and I'm just starting. It takes me a lot of time, too, because I sit and look at them, read bits of them, and try to decide if I'll read them again, or if not, why I want to keep them. We have a wall of built-in bookcases in our living room right now, and we won't in our new place, so we do need to purge them. But I also don't want to leave all my bookshelves bare when we sell, so it's a challenge. What a job this. Like you, when I wake up at 4, the moving list starts cycling in my mind. I have 300 tabs open on the mental browser at any given time. LOL.

    And I just found out my daughter is having a baby! I'm super excited, and of course she's due right when we think our house will be finished and wants me to come and stay with her. I really want to do that, so we'll be juggling. Maybe the builder will be delayed. Or early (HAHA...right).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really love my bookcases. They are 3 foot wide and taller than I am. Side by side they look like built-ins. I'm doing the same thing you are with the looking at each book.

      That's exciting about the new baby in the family. You'll figure out a way to work out the timing. Watching a new house and a baby develop at the same time is 'love overload'.

      Delete
  6. You could move with 0 books and I have no doubt your neighbors would know of your intelligence with 1 conversation. I enjoy following along with your downsizing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only that were true. I write better than I talk because I can edit out parts, expand on others and not show my thoughts to anyone until I'm happy with the tell. When I have face-to-face conversations I'm always saying to myself afterward, "Why didn't I say..." or "Why did I say that?"

      Downsizing is HARD. Glad it makes good blogging fodder.

      Delete
  7. I can see where all the decision making would have your brain in a tither. But keep going. You are doing so good and it will be such a reward when you get there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If we look around our houses it's amazing how many decisions we made to accumulate what have. For example I have an even 100 wooden nickels, all bought one at a time. Same with at least that many Cracker Jack toys. I've spent decades accumulating and now in the space of a year I'm downsizing 2/3 of it out of my life. It's fun when I can sell it but when I have to give it away it makes me feel guilty for spending the money in the first place.

      Delete
  8. This was a great post. All of us who have downsized can relate!

    I do think, though, that the 77-year-old widow's husband would have wanted her to be protected, as much as travel... traveling without thought or budget just is not smart. (And we loooove to travel -- are heading out for a four-month world cruise in early 2020. But we do it carefully and on a budget.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She had been his long time caregiver and I believe he was only thinking about giving her permission so-to-speak to go have fun traveling.

      A four month world cruise! Wow, you'll see a ton of interesting places. Hope you plan to keep a travel diary or blog of your trip. At the travel club I enjoy hearing about other people's trips and seeing their slide shows and I've never once gone on one of their trips.

      Delete
  9. Poor Levi having to downsize too! *LOL* I can't turn my Mind off either and the racing thoughts keep me up and I'm fixated on similar minutia that you speak of during this Process we are moving thru. *Le Sigh* You are making admirable progress in purging tho', I can't say the same, my Retail Spaces are filled and Sales are Soft so there does not seem to be much point in dragging more in just yet. I Donated all I care to Donate... need the $$ that hawking it would provide. Especially since everything is heading to the U-Haul Storage Units now except the Big Stuff. I tormented myself going to an Open House of a Historic 1929 Bungalow that natch I fell in LOVE with and yet had too many concerns to actually Buy... Dammit! So I spent the rest of the day in a Funk over it... The Man's fault, he insisted we go, gut instinct I knew it was a terrible idea... I so Lust after Historic Homes... that would be my Forever Dream Home scenario... Historic Home in a coveted City Neighborhood I've wanted to live in since the 70's! *LOL*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donating collectibles just goes against my grain after so many years of buying and selling them. At least you seem to have enough contacts in the business that if you had to you could go the auction route. Mine are all super smalls and not good for local auctions. Historical homes are SO cool, but I'm too old for the maintenance. But we looked at them for years too. They were are dream fixer uppers.

      Delete
  10. I have started to declutter as I live in a small house and was beginning to be in danger of drowning in "stuff". Some things have been easy to get rid of but I find it so difficult to give away or donate my books. It feels a bit like betraying a friend! Good luck in your new home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Books are awful to downsize!At least I have plenty of time to downsize...the community/place I'm moving to isn't even built yet. I'm going to a party at the sales building in the community where I'm moving to the first week of December so I'm hoping to see some physical progress on the building. But not too much. I'm happy with the timeline being so far off. I have so much to downsize!

      Delete
  11. You are rocking the donation thing! I am so proud of you. You've been a real machine on getting things sold and donated and by the time you move, you may need a shopping spree! Good for you.

    I love to travel and will as long as I can physically and financially do it. But there will come a time when travel will be anywhere someone will take me. And that will be good too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've already got the shopping trip planned, but will wait until I've actually moved in to buy a new desk and La-z-Boy.

      I love your travel blogs. You know how to get the most out of all your trips and you're so generous in sharing the details.

      Delete
  12. WOW! That's a lot of coats! And books! I am amazed at your ability to store everything you are letting go of now. Does it feel "lighter"? A relief? Sad? I go through all those feelings when I get on a "cleaning and clearing" tear. Keep up the GREAT work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have very distinct seasons here and I've never been limited by closet space.

      I can't say I feel lighter or relieved or sad. Mostly I just bad that I've accumulated so much stuff and I can't have a real auction in my neighborhood to get rid of it all in one day. A lot of it's been a fun walk down Memory Lane.

      Delete
  13. I forgot to comment on the travel thing. As you know, I'm not generally an eager traveler although I do like 'being there' and seeing new things. It's the planning, packing, and logistics (and long plane rides) that keep me closer to home. And yes, organized tours are expensive as well. And it's exhausting. On the Great Britain tour we took a couple years ago a seasoned tourist told us, "Travel is not a vacation....it's TRAVEL to see and do and learn. You will go home exhausted." She was right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the way the travel club does it...to do and learn. They do put a free flex day in every 4 or 5 days where you can rest or see something on your own that isn't part of the package. If I was going to travel I'd do it with them. I've been part of the club for 3 years and have talked to most of the people who've gone and have not heard a bad word...except they are super pricey.

      Delete
  14. It is interesting to me to read your process of downsizing. I was inspired and managed to get rid of some things I no longer need. I live in a very small cabin and even so, I have accumulated too much. But like everyone else, getting rid of books is the hardest. I am an avid history buff and have spent many years collecting. But time to let go. I am lucky to know another person doing similar research, so I am glad my collection will go to a good home. Or at least a lot of them. It is strange to think I could be so attached to a book on steam boating in Montana, for one.
    I was glad to hear the shirts have a good new home. I have read of wives who have made throw pillows of their husband's shirts. Seems like a good way of upcycling. That way you could always have a hug.
    I am glad I traveled for so many years before settling down. I have no desire at all to leave my cozy home now. But I am glad I saw so much of the US and to know of the grand differences.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get the book on steam boating in Montana. I have a book from the 1800 on how to paint wagons and carriages that I kept taking out of the donate book so I held it back to sell online. At one time, I dreamed of writing historical romances and I was going to have a character who was make a living detailing carriages. Books can inspire your imagination.

      I'm glad you mentioned making throw pillows out of husband's shirts. I've also heard of making teddy bears out of them and I love making bears. I think I'll pin a note on one of Don's to that after I move so I don't forget.

      Delete
  15. I, too, have been obsessed with furniture arrangement recently. I'm working on moving a good friend out of her big single-family home into an assisted living studio apartment, and one of the difficult decisions is going to be which pieces of furniture to take with her. I'm going to visit her at rehab tomorrow with a scale diagram (1/2" = 1') of the bed-sitting room at the studio apartment and templates at the same scale of many of her furniture pieces. I'm hoping this will help her decide which ones will work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did the same thing with making scale model furniture and a scale floor plan. It helps a LOT. I love how you are giving her some control over her moving choices---assuming she's cooperative with the process.

      Delete