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, April 10, 2021

Loss, Love Affairs and Old Movie Lines

One of my Gathering Girls pals has a daughter who volunteers at a place that’s like a food pantry only instead of giving away people food and goods the store-front charity gives away pet foods and gently used pet supplies to people living on the edge of poverty. The idea is to help them keep their dogs and cats from being surrendered to animal shelters. I have not disposed of much of Levi’s stuff---not ready for that emotional roller coaster yet. But that first week after he passed I did, however, drop off everything with an expiration date...food, treats, medications for fleas, ticks and heart worms and water additive for dental care to the above mentioned charity.

Fast forward to now when I just dropped off three baby/pet gates and two dog beds. I know in the long run it would be easier to pull the band-aide off and get rid of all of Levi’s stuff at once, but I can’t seem to do it. Before this turns into a Country/Western song about a girl whose dog died and she lost her pickup truck in a poker game and she feels low enough to do a duet with a whippoorwill, let me say that I haven’t owned a pickup truck since 2002, we don’t have whippoorwills in Michigan and I haven’t played poker since my teens when all I owned of value to lose in a card game was my roller skates, a bike I rarely rode and a bunch of diaries that my best friend and I occasionally used to play Diary Roulette. The key to winning that game was to remember key dates in each other’s daily activities…say when I knew my friend got a phone call from a boy she liked and there was a good chance she’d rambled on in her diary about Harold or Stan or whoever was her current crush. We can’t all have poignant, Anne Frank-type diaries and thank God for that.

Not even in my twenties when I was dating a guy who’s idea of going on a date was to spend Friday nights at his married sister’s house playing card games was poker among the games we played. Those people and their endless, empty-headed chit-chat that went with the card games drove me crazy but that was back in my Be-a-Chameleon days to get a man so we played cards every Friday night for a year. If we hadn’t broken up we’d still be playing cards on Friday nights and there would never had been a Levi in my life because he didn’t think animals belonged inside the house. I dated two guys from farm communities and while I'm not sure if the other one felt the same way about turning animals into household pets, his stick-up-his-butt father surely wouldn't have approved.

Aaron. Ah, yes, that other country boy: Remember the Grant Wood 1930s painting of the gloomy farmer with the pitchfork and his equally gloomy wife? Had we gotten married, that would have been me, living a life where I disappointed my in-laws because I’d never won first prize at the county fair for my apple pie or anything else for the matter. Not much call for an art major on a farm. My lack of interest in all kitchen related activates didn’t put the odds in my favor of marrying a guy in line to inherit the family farm. If I had known that going into that relationship maybe I would turned up my Chameleon Charm and brought his father a few casseroles. But I didn't and one day Aaron took a severe beating from his father when he got a little too dreamy-eyed over having a future with me, "that ‘college girl’ who was unsuited for farm life." Nothing breaks up a sweet, cream-and-sugar romance faster than a few cracked ribs and a lot of black and blue bruises from a leather belt.

He came to see me a couple of days after that beating, before hopping on a bus to Chicago where he’d planned to get a job that didn't involve milking cows and plowing fields. A few weeks later he was back on the farm. His physical wounds had healed but I doubt his spirit ever did. Gone was his sexy smile, his sweet touches and our easy-going banter and laughter. I didn’t see him again for 5-6 years and he introduced me to his perfectly-suited-for-farm-life-and-father-approved wife. If that chance introduction had happened after instead of before the movie, The Way We Were was released I would have quoted Barbara Streisand’s character Katie when she said, “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell.” And after we parted Aaron, like Hubbell with Katie, would have given me a longing, last look from across the street that telegraphed he wished things could have been different while his wife looked like she had a thought bubble drawn over her head that read, Ohmygod, that was HER wasn’t it! 

And maybe it did happen that way. After 50 years memories and imagination tend to blur. All I really know for sure is that life is messy and our summer romance would have made a great country/western song about a guy with a pocket full of regrets who was haunted by his memories of laughing and singing and being silly with a city girl. Or maybe that song would be more along the lines of Garth Brook's Thank God for Unanswered Prayers where a guy and his wife have a chance meeting with a girl he wanted way back when, before he found the true love of his life. 

I don’t even remember Aaron’s last name. It doesn’t matter. He’s a single thread woven into the Tapestry of my Life, a rich tapestry of people and events that sometimes make me wish I'd quit reading romance books and write a couple instead.

And by the way, if you think you're hearing the theme song to The Way We Were about now, you'd be right. That's me singing...  ©

Memories
Light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were

Memories
May be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply to choose to forget....

30 comments:

  1. My town is having its every-other-week distribution of pet food, litter, and treats today. All a petowner need do is show up at the drive-through distribution site, and say "cat" or "dog." I don't know whether "bird" would be accomodated. I need to ask about that, because I'd certainly be willing to provide some bird food.

    As for that classic photo of the farmer and his wife, my all time favorite play on that theme involves one of my favorite couples.

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    1. With all the migrating birds you get in Texas I would thing lots of people feed wild birds or want to.

      I've also loved Grant Woods. One of the hardest downsizing decisions was to let go of one of his prints. Thanks for the link.

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  2. Back in the days of my youth, the old joke was that a girl went to college to get her "MRS". I was a silly, frivolous young woman who always wanted a "cool" boyfriend but if a boy did become interested in me, I figured he must not be "cool" so I would not encourage him at all. I passed on some really nice, terrific guys that turned out pretty well and now I think, what was I thinking?! I am now divorced and have no desire to find a man to mess up my life so...alone again! (I think that is a song lyric too!)

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    1. Oh, yes, you're story would make a good country/western song too.

      I actually had a college advisor tell me I couldn't take take the classes I wanted because I was just there for my MRS degree and taking architecture classes would be taking a space away from a guy who needed to earn a living. I was so dumb back then I didn't fight for myself, just accepted what he said and let him point me toward a career in teaching art which I didn't finish.

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  3. Oh, the old boyfriends. I always thought I should have married one of them until I saw what he aged into. But at the time, that movie and song tore me up. Another was the oldest on a big farm and they worked HARD. I never wished I had married him, and even less when I heard he bounced his first wife off the walls until she left him. Maybe he got the same treatment from his dad...I never heard or know of it. But he did have to be in the barn every morning at 4AM because cows don't wait. Not the life for me. And god knows what Friday night social repetition they have going. LOL.

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    1. One of the advantages of looking back at old relationships is seeing what our lives might have been like if we had made different choices. Farm life really is a hard way of life. I'm pretty sure it would have broken me.

      They has that last scene in 'The Way we Were' is the greatest love scene ever written. I'm not sure about that but it sure resonates with a lot people's broken romances. I guess we all want to believe we're someone else's 'biggest regret.'

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  4. You have the most AMAZING memory! Thanks for sharing.

    We will need to find a pet charity when Bosko leaves. So much stuff!

    I cannot believe that a college advisor told you NOT to take a class because you are female! My mind is boggled.

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    1. For someone I only saw a few times in my life that college advisor was had a HUGE influence on where life took me. Of course, at the time, I didn't question it, I just ate my disappointment.

      I don't have a great memory. It's called having been a diary keeper all my life and re-reading them ever from time to time.

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  5. Good grief, Aaron's dad was a monster and if he could go back to live with him, you were so lucky you got out.
    I have played the "what ifs" before about the guys I was engaged to. I usually decide the reasons we parted were right.

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    1. Ya, he probably would have turned into his father--stern and no laughter in his soul. His mom was a mouse. I'm really glad I didn't stick with any of the guys I dated in my 20s before meeting Don even thought breaking up was not once my idea. But we do take something valuable away from all our training-wheel romances, though.

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  6. I have no old boyfriends but I do like old movies

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    1. That old movie I really identify with, probably since I had a lot of guys break up with me for similar reasons that Katie and Hubbell did.

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  7. Yes, I do think we can learn from all of our relationships. Sometimes the bad ones teach us the most. Once in a while I'll dream about people from the past. It's ironic how vivid dreams can be--and they often bring back memories.

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    1. So true about us often learning more from the bad breakups/relationships than from the other kind.

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  8. Jean:

    this blog is so spot on, recently after 30 years I reconnected with my childhood friend which brought in guy who had crush on me & was teasing me relentlessly by blank calls & so on & at 15 I thought if i just talked with the guy his teasing will stop which it did, & fortunately as soon as I got into engineering because of my good grades & I guess he didn't so he stopped the chase, & we stopped talking on the phone so I nicely finished my degree got married to guy parents picked up for me who was more educated than me & much wiser than me, & after talking with this moron on facebook chat I am just realizing man I got so lucky not going for that kind of immature, insecure guy who would have never supported me like hubby did. really dodged the bullet so realizing man choices we make in life does create our destiny, & even at that tender age 16 I understood what is good for me. I think you did right choices in your life & ended up where you were suppose to be.

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    1. I'm so glad you came to realize what a supportive and kind life-partner you've got. I remember back when uncertainties were in your head. Gosh, that was a lot years ago, wasn't it, and back then we first met online. But then I think all couples go though ups and downs like that, maybe with arranged marriages it happens more often?

      Me too, I believe I ended up where I'm supposed to be. My only true regret is that I wish Don and I would have taken better care of our physical health.

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    2. I was so immature Jean & my love expectations were conditioned by romantic books & bollywood movies which hubby was never into it, his & my love languages are very different. I had to get stroke to realize what does love really looks like saying love yous is easy but staying by your loved ones & wiping their tears & butt while holding your tears is true unconditional love which I realized post stroke & for tat I am thankful to stroke too it open up my eyes & brain to see that.

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    3. Some people never learn what love really looks like.

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  9. No regrets here. I had one boyfriend in college...he was charming and romantic but it wouldn’t have worked. Andy was a much better choice and I’ve never regretted it.


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  10. With one exception, my first boyfriend, in high school, I've remained friendly with all of the past. We rarely see each other but that's more a case of distance than anything else. I just know that in the end game, all would have been wrong. Life happens that way, doesn't it? I'm glad you dodged many a bullet!

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    1. People come and in our lives and we give and take something to them all. Good or bad I would not have turned out to be who I am if I hadn't dated a variety of guys in my twenties.

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  11. Reminds me of a boy from long ago.

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    1. And I'll bet you would have been 'country' enough to be family approved to marry a the heir of the family farm. LOL

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  12. Guess it has ibeen a while since I was here. Sorry to read about your loss of Levi. Sounds like it was quite unexpected. I still feel great sadness over having to give up a young dog I had many years ago — a different kind of loss but heartbreaking nonetheless. Interesting that the topic led you back to a young love. So many kinds of loss that can leave us wondering what might have been.

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    1. I still have moments when I feel Levi's passing as raw pain.

      Gosh, yes, one could write an entire blog about the types of love that passes through our lives...and not all of them are healthy.

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  13. Old Boyfriends... well... there's a lot of Blog Fodder in that Topic, but they'd probably have to Flag my Blog for Mature Content... ha ha ha ha.

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    1. I'm an adult. I'd still be able to read it, if you wrote it. LOL

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    2. LMAO, whaaaat, you ran out of those steamy Novels? *Winks* Besides, I'd have to change all the Names to Protect the Not So Innocent... and it might remain in Cyberspace indefinitely to where one of the Grands might stumble upon it and need loads of Therapy! LOL.

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