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 20, 2020

Whining Old Woman with Questions…


Spoiler alert: A personal blog is a place to keep our memories and record our feelings with a little self-psychoanalysis thrown in. It's National Whine Day here in River City so get out the cheese and join me if you’re willing to listen to me complain about feeling older than the rock of Gibraltar. What? You don't see the resemblance? That monolithic promontory has 100s of caves and my bones are honeycombed. All I'd need to match Gibraltar is a few migratory birds sitting on my head. I hate feeling old! Have I mentioned that lately? I hate knowing that one careless fall could break a hip and put me in a nursing home for the rest of my life. Ya, I know from reading the blogs of my peers that I'm the odd man out on this aging with grace thing. Most of you are doing just fine with that whole concept. But a few of you---you know who you are---are in complete denial. Hint: age IS more than just a number, even if a bottle can give you the same hair color you had in high school. I try not to complain too much in public but behind closed doors sometimes I can’t help feeling sorry for myself. Sorry that I’m in the last chapters of my life and I have nothing important to show for all my years on earth. Sorry that no matter how much Cher and I wish we could turn back time, it keeps marching forward. 

Wondering if we’ve wasted our gift of life is a common thread with many/but not most people in my age bracket. For those of us who do wonder, we bemoan the fact that we haven't lived up to our youthful dreams and aspirations and even fewer of us have soared beyond them. Not everyone can be an astronaut, for example, or be another Stephan King or travel the world without having to join the Navy to do it. Not everyone gets to be a cowboy or a princess or to run away with the circus. Does that mean we’ve wasted our lives or opportunities? I don't know, I'm so confused! Maybe it just means we have to reassess the yardstick we are using to judge ourselves? Or maybe we shouldn’t be judging ourselves at all. Maybe that is best done by the people we have touched, loved or inspired. And isn't it a royal bummer that they don't mention any of that until they eulogize us at our funerals. Funerals should come first, then dying! Anyone on board with signing that petition? We never know how far our sphere of influence goes which is so aptly illustrated in the Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful life.

I can’t complain about the course my life took, I can’t brag about it either. I guess that statement in itself is something to slap on a road-side billboard. Vanilla living means I haven’t walked on the dark side, haven’t done things that could put me in prison or cause others to curse my name. There’s still time, I suppose, if I want to live in infamy but who would take care of my dog if I got taken down in a hail storm of bullets if I tried to avenge our Founding Fathers by rushing the White House? “We all end up dead, it’s just a question of how and why,” Mel Gibson’s character said in Braveheart which is probably not far down the list from his best known line of: “Freeedommm!” Nope, if I were to rewrite the text of my life I’d be more like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Principled and idealistic, I’d take down the corrupt politicians with the power of my naïve dedication to Truth and Goodness.

With the direction that last paragraph took it makes me wonder why I never had a crush on Jimmy Stewart. He sure took some great roles in his career. His 1950s movie, The Greatest Show on Earth planted the seed of romance I had with the circus that in part led me to apply for and be accepted into the Ringling Brothers School of Art and Design. Not starting their fall semester in 1960 is the single most debated ‘what if’ question that takes up space in my head as I age into the home-stretch of living. Turned out I might have just graduated from high school but I was still a naïve kid who was too scared to leave my family’s womb. (Ya, I used the word 'naïve' twice in the same blog; sue me for liking that word and knowing how to use it.)

I don’t waste a lot of time with other ‘what ifs’ in my life. With the exception of the Ringling Brothers decision, I’m happy with my life choices, most of which I made with my eyes wide open and my list of pros and cons clutched firmly in my fist. Oddly enough, I truly believe I still would have met my husband if I had altered the trajectory of my life back in 1960 because he actually spent time down in Sarasota (where Ringley’s is located) when I would have been there and we would have been hitting the same places for night life. I believe we were soulmates, destined to meet over and over again until we recognized each other. I believe that because ten years before we started dating our paths briefly crossed when we were both going to different high schools. It was at a drive-in restaurant where one summer night Don and I sat on the hoods of our cars practicing our flirting techniques. It was documented in my diary then forgotten until it was rediscovered many decades later. Ya, Don and I would have met in Florida and again back here in Michigan after we both had grown up enough to quit sowing our wild oats.

Will we meet again in the Great Unknown? The pragmatic side of me says probably not while the romantic side of me says, “Hell, Yes!” The bigger question, though, is which side of me is more naïve? Okay, I agree, I'm pushing it with this third and now forth 'naïve'. I should back space this paragraph out of this post but I'm in a silly mood today and I want to share the silly. "Are you with me, Simipkins?" Only true fans of Jack Black in The Holiday will get why I'm using that quote here. ©
 

43 comments:

  1. Your life story continues to amaze me - Ringling Brothers, oh my. I do wonder if the pondering if we lived up to our dreams and potential is a uniquely American baby boomer curse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are bring up an interesting question and it leads me to believe you theory of it being uniquely an American Baby Boomer thing has merit.(I won't call it a curse, though, because its a game I like to play in my head. LOL)

      Delete
    2. Maybe not so much a uniquely American Baby Boomer Curse so much as it is a Uniquely American Curse. Watch any American reality competition show or listen to any American kid's graduation speech. They all talk about "following their dreams" and "knowing they can do anything they want to do; be anything they want to be." It's exciting and wonderful and seems empowering, but it's not all that helpful or true. As a public high school teacher, it was equal parts heartbreaking and frustrating to see kids aspire to lofty goals of being pro ballplayers who never made a single team in their lives. Or kids who clung to their idea of being a doctor or nurse who couldn't get out of Algebra I. And I was told in no uncertain terms never to dissuade them or give them even the gentlest of reality checks.

      Delete
    3. You are right, Maybe a better way to put it is started with the Baby Boomers to wonder if we are/have lived up to our dreams and aspirations. Television had a role to play in that, I'm guessing. So many young people see the fame and adulation of sports figures, singers and actors and they don't really understand how unique that fame is. That said, I do believe in setting the bar high for ourselves because getting half way to high is better than not trying at all.

      Our parents' generation lived through tougher times and most of them just took what they could get for jobs and were happy for them.

      Delete
  2. As you know I am not growing old gracefully. I hate it. I'm not ready for it. All that goes with this old age shit. But I have no choice so I better buckle up. As far as my choices, I know for certain knowing what I know now I would do things a bit differently but at the same time I feel so strongly that everything I've done lead me to the next. I only have 1 regret in my life. And it's really a light weight one so it's not a big deal.I recall a rude woman who I had just met said, "I hear your were married once before, boy I bet you regret that." I paused because I was shocked a stranger would say it but then I thought no I don't regret it. I learned so much so quickly and when it was over I knew what I wanted the 2nd time and made damn good choices after that. So not a regret and to this day it pisses me off that she asked me that. I don't regret a single thing I have done, only things I have not done. I think that lesson needs to be taught to the young. Opportunity lies in difficulty. To quote Nike - just go for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an odd thing for a stranger to say to another person, especially given the fact that a huge portion of the population have been married more than once. Your point of us learning from our mistakes and being better for them is spot on. Same here about not regretting my mistake even thought many of them were painful to go through at the time.

      Delete
  3. I do not like growing old. Since I retired at the end of June, I felt as if I was just filling days and killing time until I finally die. Ugh! Then came COVID and I have settled down a bit. I do not feel bad when I have a lazy day or when I am not "productive" enough. Actually, my description of "productive" has really changed. One small job - like weeding for an hour or a half hour hike - and I feel like I am DONE for the day and I can just relax and read or watch Netflix. I don't know if that is good or bad but I don't have to be busy all of the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Feeling like I'm just killing time until I die is exactly the way I feel way too often, and have since my husband died. Add downsizing my life's possessions has magnified that feeling.

      I think it's good that you can read or watch a movie and just relax now. Retirement alone takes time to adjust to without a pandemic thrown into the mix.

      Delete
  4. I think it is cool how you feel you and your husband would still have met regardless of your choices. Perhaps we are where we are today also regardless of our choices. Of course I could have been healthier now with some better choices but who knows?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He wasn't perfect and neither was I. We both marched to the beat of a different drummer so we were good for each other, accepting and encouraging our uniqueness so to speak.

      Oh, yes, I have the 'healthier choices' thing to regret too. Each better, learn to like exercise, but it is what it is.

      Delete
    2. A high school friend went to the Ringling Brothers school in Florida after graduation. It caused a bit of a stir in our small town when this kid from a well-known family took that route instead of college. He achieved a tiny bit of fame, gaining roles in films like The Goodbye Girl and co-starring in a TV series with Bess Armstrong. After decades in LA, though, he returned to our small town with a wife and a bunch of kids in tow, and lived there for the remainder of his life. Just thought you might be interested in knowing the way it turned out for someone who did follow that dream!

      Delete
  5. Ringing Brothers?! You are full of surprises.
    I think you hit on something when you questioned whether we should be the ones to judge ourselves. We probably influence others more than we realize. I hope so anyway.
    I love the story about you and Don meeting when you were young and practicing your flirting skills. Truth is almost always more interesting than fiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Their school was more than just for performing arts. It was a program for visual arts, drawing and painting tigers and and lions, oh my!

      Delete
  6. I recognize the Holiday reference! Overall, I don't have a lot of regrets. There were things I didn't have the guts to do that I sometimes wonder "what if..." but if I'd gone that path, it may have been good but not the path I have now. It wasn't perfect but it was good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm guessing a lot of us have more 'what ifs' around what we didn't do rather than what we did. We are lucky we had choices and once I make mine I don't beat myself up over my mine if one or two of them went sideways.

      Delete
  7. One of my SIL's watches The Holiday multiple times every year...I think it's her all time favorite movie. I liked it, but my favorite repeats are Love, Actually and When Harry Met Sally.

    Aging is a strange thing. As my DH says, none of us feels any older in our mind - it's just the body that keeps telling us we're getting older. I have wondered over the years about different choices I made and whether I would have been happier with different choices, but I did reconnect with a former fiance once, and after a few dinners and a walk on the beach, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I was right all along. He's a lovely guy, but really not for me. And then I realized on FB that he supports our Orange Nightmare. Made me trust my instincts. LOL.

    Your sense that you would have met your husband regardless is nice. I'm not so sure as you are, but I do sense we were met to be together, even though it happened in midlife for us. We'll never hit 50 years, but we've had 20 good ones so far, and we're happy with that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love 'When Harry Met Sally' too. And I've seen The Holiday probably a dozen times and still watch it when it comes on.

      I didn't meet and start dating Don until I was 27 which means I probably had more x-boyfriends that the average woman in my age bracket. I really would like to know how a few of them turned out...no interest romantically but just to see we each grew.

      Delete
  8. I used to worry that I was squandering my “potential” (whatever that is or WAS). Now I’ve simmered down and decided my potential is to be happy with myself and be kind to/help others if I can. I can hit these goals just about every day.
    I’m marching towards the end too. Just hope I have a few good years left in which to have some fun (as I’ve had my share of un-fun years) before I can’t anymore.

    Deb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I envy where you're at in life right now and you've sure earned the right to be right where you are...perched on the edge of enjoying everything a leisurely life as to offer.

      Delete
  9. Some people are meant to be together no matter how, I have no idea how old you are doesn't matter to me. My nan had a problem with growing older and would never tell her age, I am 57 and have no problem saying it my mum is 80 and has no problem saying it. Our state of mind and how we think has a lot to do with how we age, in my opinon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have a problem telling people my age to people face to face but I don't post it or my age or birthday online any where---it's an internet security issue for me.

      I agree our state of mind factors in on how old we feel and act but our state of mind is effected by our past life choices too. One does not cancel out the other.

      Delete
  10. I dare say I'm not the only one that today's post struck a nerve with. For me it immediately brought to mind lyrics from Peggy Lee's 1969 "Is That All There Is To a Fire"...When that final moment comes and I'm breathing my last breath, I'll be saying to myself, is that all there is, is that all there is?" When I first heard the song I had just realized I had made a mistake in marrying so young. Now many years later (some good, others not so much) I'm still asking "IS THAT ALL THERE IS?" Sadly I sincerely doubt I'll never know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just looked up the lyrics of that song. I remember the choir but had forgotten about the fire and the circus. Peggy sure did a great job of looking bored when she sang it. Thanks for your comment. It's always great to know when something I've written strikes a cord in someone else.

      Delete
  11. Well, we still have time to become infamous and see how much Fun we can have without getting arrested... you know, on account of your Dog, my Cat and Hamsters... Ringling Brothers, I'm impressed, I always wanted to just go off and do Art, could have become the Starving Artist living in a Hippie Commune somewhere. But, along the way I got ambitious and chased the Corporate Dream, made good money, got to the top of the heap and realized it wasn't all that and a bag of chips... and ditched the Corporate Grind. I'd have to say the only regret I have is that I haven't yet crossed off Bora Bora from the Bucket List and it's been No. One for too damned long already dammit! I was perusing the COVID stats and do you know Samoa and Fiji have had Zero Cases... wonder if they're allowing any Runaways from the Mainland? *Winks*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if there is an artists commune somewhere for retirees that would allow us to bring our pets and your new pool guy. The South Pacific sounds great.

      Delete
    2. Oh Yes, we'd HAVE to bring Brad my Hot Pool Guy! And being served Drinks with little Umbrellas on the Beach by Hot Cabana Boys would be the Ideal location for an Old Hippies Commune I think!

      Delete
  12. PS My Friend: Grow old DISGRACEFULLY, it's the only way to Go! I'm perfecting the Art of it. *Winks*

    ReplyDelete
  13. One of my favorite sayings is, "The question isn't 'Is there life after death?' The question is, 'Is there life before death?'" Just thinking about that brought back another great song that I'm sure you remember. I've known a few older people who've kept singing that song even when dealing with the worst complications of aging -- at least, metaphorically. I try to keep them in mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I plan on following old Frank's song once I've ended the current chapter I'm in right now and move to where I don't have a big house and yard to take care of and my only responsibility I'll have is to write a single check once a month. My entire adult life until my husband's stroke we both followed our muses, free and happy and I have no doubt I'll be able to get back to that.

      Delete
  14. My only regret is that I didn't become a beach volleyball player. When I see those young women playing, I oh, so admire their trim bodies and beautiful legs. Other than that, life is pretty good. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know that feeling of wishing I had zeroed in on a sport that would have kept me trim. Volleyball players have it all going on, don't they.

      Delete
  15. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota is definitely worth seeing. And while down there the Dali museum is very good.
    As I tell my friends having a stroke was the best thing to ever happen to me; it got me divorced. So I'm envious of your memories.
    The following two quotes are going to be the rest of my life:
    "Your body is not a temple: It's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride." Anthony Bourdain(Saw this at an oyster bar in Portland Maine last December)

    Part of my Hunter S. Thompson journey;
    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What happened to your marriage after your stroke is statistically very high I'm guessing. At least I saw more than my share of break ups and disillusionments on the support site where I mentored after my husband had his.

      I am envious of all your traveling. We covered at lot of the West but I think you've seen more of the East than we did. And I've love to see those two museums in Florida.

      Thanks for sharing those quotes.

      Delete
  16. My generation just before the boomers had high aspirations, too, and believed we could achieve them, strove to do so, as we women laid the groundwork for trying to break through some glass ceilings. Men wanted peace without war threat, not to go off to military service — too much Korea (before Vietnam Nam.). Our parents had lived through the depression turning into WWII. We had seen enough wanting/doing without, fighting, conflict and welcomed efforts to accomplish our goals in a reasoned calm way if possible. Many tried to create for their children the ideal world they wished they’d had, not realizing not having shared their experiences their children would see living through a different prism and lived accordingly like there was no tomorrow espousing ideals they thought we didn’t have.

    I, too, didn’t meet and wed my husband until,I was 27. Marriage wasn’t for me prior to that and I even intentionally avoided serious relationships before that. I’ve sometimes wondered if family responsibilities with concerns for my mother that I assumed hadn’t taken unexpected precedence what might have occurred. I was debating whether to go to NYC to try and get in Academy Dramatic Arts, or to complete and submit the application I had obtained to attend the Pasadena Playhouse. We often tend to think our experience might have turned out in more positive ways then they might have.

    Interesting that you perceive Peggy Lees’s manner has bored whereas I experience her vocal intensity as holding back strong emotion so the focus is on voice quality rather than facial and body expression/antics.

    Does indeed seem you might well have met your husband one place or another. You have marched to your own drummer which I think is important in a life so should be proud. I agree how nice it would be if we let others know of the impact they’ve had on our lives before we die — is a waste to wait til afterward. You’ve likely meaningfully touched lives of many people through the years you’ll never know about, but can take pleasure in those who let you know now while you’re still alive as with readers here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have lived an interesting life, too. NYC to study the dramatic arts...wow!

      That is interesting how we both see Peggy Lee's song differently.

      I do know that I have impacted a lot of people's lives when I was a mentor in a large stroke support community but they are all strangers I wouldn't know if they passed me in the street. And while I'm proud of what I was able to do there it wore me down and burned me up.

      Thanks for sharing so much here.

      Delete
    2. FWIW the Hollywood Bowl planned a tribute concert to honor now deceased Peggy Lee’s 100th birthday. The Guardian currently has an article about her you might find interesting. She speaks of the impact the song Is That All There Is had on her given she had lived through, perhaps watched, having two of her homes as a young girl burn to the ground.

      Delete
  17. I just read a blog post written by a woman who celebrates her "mediocre" life as enough. No striving, no busy-ness, no regrets -- just quietly going about her life, being kind, loving, committed to family and career, but not obsessively so, self-forgiving and finding satisfaction in simplicity. I loved her idea that a mediocre life is just right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a contented life would be a better description based on what you're saying.

      Delete
  18. Dear Misadventures and Friends, regrets and aging? If i didn't believe the Bible was real, i'd have a long, yukky laundry-list of regrets - and being over 60 would be very scary.

    ReplyDelete