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, July 31, 2021

I'm Dying Here!


I dying to get this show on the road, but I’m in a holding pattern, sitting on needles and pins waiting for my house to close. The appraisers were here this week and I have no trust that they knew what they’re doing. Standing in my kitchen, the woman said, “I see you have all new appliances” and my first thought was, Is this a test? If she’s serious do I risk telling her she’s clueless? I went with door number two. “No,” I said, “they’re original from when the house was built.” If she was testing my honesty I passed. If she was clueless on how to do her job, she covered it well by saying, “You’ve taken very good care of them.”  The guy never made eye contract, didn’t say a word or cracked a smile and looked like either: 1) he’s an angry black man, mad at the world, or 2) he needed a healthy dose of prune juice and a long date with a toilet. Maybe he was disappointed that I was home---clearly they didn’t expect me to be here---and I spoiled his plans to take a dump while his partner walked through the house. 

The next day I got a request from the people whose offer on my house I accepted. They are from out of state and wanted to know if I’d let them see it again before they go back home. My realtor said it would look bad if I refused, which I had no intentions of doing, but I did ask him what if they see something they don’t like and want to back out of the deal? What if they saw the appraisal and it was too low and they changed their mind? My realtor said with their $10,000 earnest check they are heavily invested in their decision and they won’t back out. I had a sale fall through at a closing when the so-called buyer didn’t show up. I am not going to feel good until this closing is over and the check has cleared the bank.

After accepting the offer I had googled the buyers, looked at Google Earth to check out the house they’re moving from and they are downsizing a lot to move into mine. Then I learned that the couple buying my house are 80 and 81 and I spent several days obsessing that they’re so old they could die before the closing. "Act of God," my realtor said, "we'd start over again if the happens." I stopped obsessing when I realized that I’m not far behind them in age and I could be the one who dies before the closing. Color me ten shades of embarrassed. 

They came and spent close to an hour going through the house and taking measurements after I told them to take all the time they wanted and that I’d be on the deck, “Just let me know when you’re leaving so I won’t still be there at bedtime.” A nice couple. She walked with a cane and had the gait of someone who’d had a stroke and he had worked for Penguin Publishing and at one time they lived in Japan. My library will remain a library with the addition of a piano on one wall. My husband’s ghost will love that since, after his stroke, Don spent a couple of hours each day happily singing wordless operas at the top of his lungs. I should have asked this doctor to cut back on his anti-depressants. Ya, like a caregiver would trade 'too happy' for its opposite. I may have wished for a noise canceling headset but I wasn't crazy.

Also this week: The guy who made cushions for my wicker settee and the chair plus throw pillows delivered them yesterday. They ended up installing the top cushion on the chair because I don’t think they trusted me to do it. I was just going to order extra fabric and tack it in place myself. But I’m so glad the guys looked at me and the photos of the chair and treated me like a little old lady who probably would mess it up and insisted on picking up the chair so they could do it. I couldn’t be happier with the results. All the pieces look exactly like my mind’s eye envisioned. And dare I say I’m not delusional when I claim the settee is as comfortable any couch found in furniture stores these days. 

God, it’s going to be Thanksgiving before everything comes together but I know the mid-century La-Z-Boy chair style and color chair I ordered is going to work well with what was just delivered. Anyone who has spent time around summer cottages knows they are filled with a hodgepodge of furniture styles from bygone eras. And that's what I'm going for, the look of a cottage, not a city dwelling. And nicknacks? I'll have so many it will make the dust fairies fart rainbows.

I also solved the problem of not having a coat closet off my main entry and my new laundry room 'hall tree' was delivered this week. It came in pieces, of course---what doesn't these days---so I unpacked it all to make sure it was all there and undamaged, then repacked it. I was impressed by their step-by-step directions with every part labeled and lots of extra screws. Most of the hall trees I was looking at had hooks instead of the bar for hangers but I liked this one because on laundry day I'll have a temporary place to hang what comes out of the dryer. It came from 'Tribesigns' if anyone is wondering and their delivery was really fast.

My next and last big purchase will be an area rug to tie all my furniture together. I’ve shopped area rugs online and locally until I’m in sensory overload. Patterns and color mixing oh crap! I'm sticking my fingers down my throat to vomit...that's how much I'm hating this last decision but I decided to let it go until after I move. That might be a decision I'll come to regret because both Lowe's and Wayfair say they only deliver to your mail room at apartment buildings. La-Z-Boy and the furniture store will deliver to my door but their shipping will take months instead of weeks. ©

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Memory and Memories

A few weeks ago when I unloaded my Chevy Trax before taking it to get it detailed inside and out I found a brand new antenna---still in its original packaging---just like the one on top of the car. Try as I might---and I tried hard---I couldn’t remember why or how I got it. The Trax is a 2015 so it’s not like I had to search the ancient, dust crusted archives of my brain to find this bit of personal trivia and thank goodness it not the kind of data loss that advances a person on the game board of living on a continuum care campus to the next level of care. Nope. As long as I remember to wear a sufficient amount of clothing in public, layered in the correct order, and I don’t wander around at night calling a dog who died twenty years ago I should be fine. Still, I worry. Especially when the stupidest things pop out of my mouth and by the time I figure out the misinformation should be corrected it’s too late. Which brings me to one of the advantages of living where I’m moving to: No one will know me well enough to know if I’m acting out of character or relating misinformation about something in my past. It will be like being in my own Witness Protection Hide-Away. And if I'm lucky, the place will come stocked with a cute agent to keep me safe. What? That's the way it works in all the witness protection romance books I've read. (Quit rolling your eyes, you know I'm kidding.) 

I got a call recently from the advertising director of the CCC who wanted to know if I’d appear in a TV interview about why I am moving into the place. It’s not the first time she’s asked but this time I gave her one of two honest answers as to why I will always say ‘no’ to that question. I told her my brain and my mouth are not always in sync and I don’t trust my mouth to have the good sense and proper decorum that my brain has 24/7/365. She laughed because she’s been around me enough times at meetings to know that from time to time I tend to throw one-liners out for comic relief. If she asks me again I’ll give her the other honest answer and blurt out, “Are you crazy! Fat people don’t want to appear in TV commercials!” Fat people don’t like to do a lot of things because--- duh!---someone might notice the elephant in the room. Well, not literally an elephant sized person in the room but we ladies are lucky because women are not like guys who will point out to their friends: “You’ve put on a few pounds since I last saw you.”

That covers the memory part of this post now on to the memories. I went to the grocery store today and when I got there I grumbled with discontent because they had the audacity to be paving half of the parking lot. We’re talking about a store that measures their parking lot in acres not feet. Not only was the pungent odor of asphalt unavoidable but I was wearing white soled shoes and I didn’t want to walk across the designated parking area that looked like it had been resurfaced and line striped the day before.  

My husband had a parking lot maintenance business that did snowplowing, sweeping, line striping and pot hole patching. Then a friend who managed the GM Union Hall asked him about resurfacing their parking lot and Don said, “I'll get you some bids.” He ended up being the general contractor for the job and thus another sideline was added to his business cards. Over the next five years he accumulating equipment and resurfaced a string of parking lots---the size of your local Applebees---and he had a crew of teenagers from the neighborhood working for him. I even filled in a few times, raking hot asphalt and cleaning tools. That stuff is like snot. It sticks to everything. We had to strip our clothes off in the garage. 

Long story short we had a come to Jesus talk and, thankfully, he decided that while resurfacing parking lots was really lucrative it wasn’t a direction he should continue moving in since he was still working full time at GM and he didn't want to give up their benefits and retirement plan (even though he made more money snowplowing and cleaning parking lots than he did as a die maker at GM). Don had painful, childhood memories of having the family's utilities turned off and bill collectors coming to the door and that turned him into a workaholic. But that's a story for another day.

When I got my groceries loaded in my car I decided to pull over near the asphalters and watch for a while as I multi-tasked by making ice cream soup in the back seat. Oops. Thirty-five years had not changed the basic process but the shear size of the equipment was impressive. Don would have loved parking on Memory Lane with me today. When he was in the Army Reserves they trained him to drive heavy equipment and that was his happy place. The bigger the better.

When two of the huge, belly dumper trucks stopped to put their mud flaps back on so they could leave the parking lot I was not shocked to see one of the drivers was a woman. She was probably close to retirement age and I'll bet she started out raking asphalt and cleaning tools. When the belly dumpers left so did I, thanking my lucky stars that Don gave up resurfacing when he did or that woman would have been me. Still, the memories that came with watching the paving action had me grabbing for my thickest pair of rose-colored glasses. Remind me sometime to write about the fatherless teen boys who seemed to go everywhere we went for a couple of summers. Today I'd call them the Driveway Dwellers because that's where they seemed to live but back then we called them the Three Amigos. ©