Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Farmhouse Table Talk: The Bing Edition

 


Do you remember Bea Author who played Dorothy on The Golden Girls and Maude, the antithesis to the Archie Bunker character on All in the Family? Lately I’ve been running into a woman here on campus who has the same voice as Bea Author only her personality is more Auntie Mame than Dorothy or Maude.  She’s loud, funny, out-going and friendly. But the thing I find the most fascinating about her is that she’s got this running joke going about how she wants to start a Scandals & Gossip Newspaper here on campus and shove them under our doors at night. Every time someone says or does something noteworthy---that I’m itching to write about in my blog---she pipes up with, “That could go in my newspaper!” Cracks me up every time and I’m sure I have a cat-that-swallowed-the-cannery look on my face knowing I’ll go back to my apartment and actually write about what we both find worth documenting.

I met our Auntie Mame by going to the cafe` a little later than usual and being invited to sit at the big farmhouse table with a core of 10-12 others who seem to eat together frequently. I’ve been invited to the table 4-5 times now and each time I’ve had more fun than the last. Mostly I listen but I’ll add a humor nugget once in a while to the mix. Last night they were teasing a woman and a guy when it came out that she’s visited him in his apartment, to listen to him sing. He had one of his songs recorded on his phone and we passed that phone around. Ohmygod, the guy sounds just like Bing Cosby. Between him and another guy who spontaneously started singing along with a piano player giving us a concert last week I can’t wait for Christmas Carole Night coming up. 

Our Bing Cosby is a Scottish guy with a cool accent and the gruffly look of a dock worker. He’s an interesting character who usually comes down to dinner with his daughter who stops after work almost every day. He’s having a hard time adjusting to not being “home” so she’s made it her mission to help him get to know everyone, assimilate into the culture here. Often times she has her dog with her so he hangs around the lobby, dragging his leash around while she’s busy glad-handing, introducing residents to one another and instigating conversations between us. I call her our Unofficial Ambassador, a title that she likes. One time age came up and she said she was 60 which shocked the pants off me. “I don’t believe it," I said, "you look more like 40!” She’s got a quick wit and replied, “You just said that because you want to be my best friend for life.” She gets her sense of humor from her crusty dad, only he tells bar jokes and likes his cocktails. One time someone asked him what his name was and he said, “It’s none of your business.”

Last night twelve of us were sitting at the farm house table including Bing, T-shirt Tom, Auntie Mame and a new woman I’d never seen before was sitting next to Bing when he was being teased about inviting the woman into his apartment. “Just to hear him sing!” the woman who been to Bing’s apartment defending herself. And someone else---okay, it was me---said, “that’s probably what he tells all the women he lures up there.” It was all good nurtured and only one person---the new woman---was not laughing and teasing the couple. 

After we broke up and were saying our ‘goodbyes’ New Woman came up to several of us and announced right out of the gate that she lived with Bing before he moved here. She was like a dog marking territory letting us know he was taken. I’m not sure he or his daughter believes that and if she thinks I’m going to spread that around campus she picked the wrong person. Auntie Mame, the pretend gossip columnist of Lady Land would have been a better choice to spill that pot of beans to. His daughter was not there that night but the impression she gives us is that her dad still misses her deceased mom and that didn’t jive with the impression New Woman gave. Our first campus mystery, oh my! (Oops, second mystery. Who was quarantined for two weeks was the first.)

Bing admitted to me when we were alone once that he cried himself to sleep his first night here. He puts on a brave front when his daughter is here but when she leaves the table for a few minutes he’ll ask questions like, “Do any of you miss your house?” “Does anyone feel at home here?” "Do you regret moving here?"

The daughter tries so hard to pave the way for Bing to make friends and feel comfortable here. Daughters on that slippery slope of dealing with a dad with declining physicals and/or mental health---and I include my nieces in this statement---sure can do some heroic things to help their dads when the role reversal is growing into a living, breathing part of their lives. As I told Bing, “You’re lucky you have such a caring and accomplished daughter" and then I asked, "Do you trust her?" He does. His face glows with affection when he talks about her. So I gave him the same speech I gave my brother about letting go of his fears and grabbing on to that trust, knowing his daughter has his back no matter what happens. He's slowly losing his eye-sight and his daughter wants him to learn his way around here, make friends before that happens. His story is only one version of the same tale about why people move to a place like this. ©

58 comments:

  1. Again, thank you so much for sharing. My heart goes out to "Bing". And bless his daughter.

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  2. Jean I just love what you said about letting go of fears and grabbing onto trust. When I was younger I tried to be a strong foundation for my kids and parents. Now that I've gotten older and am dealing with some health concerns, I'm gradually letting my kids help me more. It really is a huge relief to have someone(s) you can trust. Your farmhouse table friends sound interesting and fun. Some sound like real characters--which makes life a lot more interesting. I hope that Bing and his duet buddy will regale your group often during the Christmas season. Happy Thanksgiving, Jean! (p.s. I thought we'd be moved into our little retirement home by now, but it looks like it will be another week or so before we get there. Hoping and praying to land there before Christmas! I'm really happy for you that you got moved into your new place before the holidays!)

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    1. The holidays are going to be filled with activities this year and I'm looking forward to them. Knock on wood Covid doesn't change that.

      Sorry your move got delayed, hopefully that will make the move that much sweeter.

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  3. Inspite of the wholly positive tenor of your posts about your new abode and inspite of all the jolly people living there there is sometimes a slightly sad undertone; that old chap probably regrets his move, no matter how serious the reason for doing so.

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    1. There is a sad overtone to living in a place where everyone is elderly. Everyone had or will be losing something. But there is also the sense that we have to make the most of what time we have left,

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    2. Yes. It is your openness and honesty in sharing your journey, and determination to make the most of your future, that keeps me reading every post, and encouraged.

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    3. Thanks for the comment, Kathe. If my memory isn't failing me I think it's your first one.

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    4. Your memory isn't failing you : ) I've been reading your blog for years, but haven't posted. Found you through Satisfying Retirement blog, which I followed from his post on AARP (or was it Next Avenue?) I'm also a widow, and have been thinking about my future living situation for some time. It's so refreshing to read your positive decisions in moving to a continuing care community. I'm in that process too, just a few years behind you, in NC.

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    5. Also love hearing how people find the blogs they follow. The process for moving to a continuing care community was a long one for me but I've run into people who did it just a couple of months. I know I think stuff to death sometimes but I'd worry I was making the wrong one if I'd made up my mind that fast.

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  4. I'm so enjoying your recounting of your new experiences.

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    1. And I don't even share half the stuff that goes on here. It's quite an interesting microcosm of the greater world.

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  5. You and Auntie Mame (love your nicknames) have a delightful wealth of stories that cover lifetimes. Effie Leland Wilder who wrote "Out to Pasture" made quite a career writing about living in a retirement facility and the characters she met there. She started at 85 and wrote 5 books. I see you doing a similar thing.

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    1. I think I should look up one of her books and see how she did it to keep herself out of trouble,

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  6. Wow. She sounds like quite a woman, that daughter. I'm glad she is the age she is. At 40, I'm not sure you really know what to do, the right thing. I'm not sure I did. You do the best you can at the time to do all the right things, but until you've experienced and seen more such things happening around you, you don't really realize what it is like for the older person or all the power you have to do more to make sure everything is right for them. He sounds like a good guy and I think it takes a good deal of self-awareness to be able to ask a group of still relative strangers "Do you miss your house" or "Do you feel at home here." Those are pretty deep questions and I suppose it surprises me all the more because most men I know aren't that attuned. They might think it but never say it.

    If you read Auntie Mame or see the musical "Mame," you know that Vera Charles, Bea Arthur's character in that wonderful musical and even better book, sounds just like your resident Mame. Never let her know you have a blog or it will be all over the complex in the next edition!

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    1. It would be impossible not to like the daughter and her father. She's helped break the ice not only for her father but for all of us. And you're right, he did ask some deep questions and there were some compassion and great answers given, trying to help him.

      No way will I reveal that I blog. Some here know I write every morning ---pretty hard to hide when they walk by my den window and I'm typing every morning. But I told them I write family history and genealogy stuff....not really a lie as I have written and self-published books like that and by blog is my personal family history. I had to say something when someone assumed since I was on the computer I must really be into Facebook---like that's the only thing anyone our age does on the internet.

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    2. Very far thinking of you. I have told one or two people locally and regretted it.

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    3. Superman had a cover story but I can't remember if Louis Lane ever did. LOL

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    4. Please never tell them you're blogging. Then we'd miss these wonderful stories.

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  7. I am so happy to hear you are enjoying eating with others and it sounds like a fun group. Changing times will lead to different companions. You gave Bing some great advice and huge change is difficult at any age with lots of ups and downs.

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    1. Advice is easy to give but not so easy to take when you're the one having to let go of those age related fears.

      I can't say I always enjoy eating with others---depends on the combination of people at the table but that is common in all stages of our lives, at lots of events we attend over our lifetimes.

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  8. Bing is having a tough Transition, and bless his dear daughter for overseeing it and being a part of it the way she is. He didn't have the comfort of decision-making the way you did, obviously. You had a rare gift, and I know you are aware of how fortunate you are to have been able to make the move on your own terms.

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    1. Bing's daughter is the real deal. She's a lawyer who partnered with some others do-gooders to open up a place that helps drug addicts some how. I'm not sure of the details but she's very excited about opening up their office and getting their first clients. She's also married to a lawyer and they are changing my perception of lawyers.

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  9. Sounds like you are enjoying yourself and making new friends. It takes a while to get used to a new home and everyone at your place is going through the same thing - missing the old while trying to embrace the new! Good for you for staying upbeat.
    I bet the holiday decorations and events will be terrific!

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    1. I'll have a story to tell about the decorations.

      I've decided that I'll not find a deep friendship here, but that's okay. I just need a daily laugh or even a daily tear to keep me happy.

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  10. What a beautiful story. I loved the humor, the gossip, and the insight into one man's difficult adjustment, which must be the case for so many. I know it would be for me too. Change is stressful and scary, no matter how prepared (or not) you are. Everything in life is a leap of faith. You were wise to ask about him trusting his daughter to be there for him. I did the same for my mom in her moves to communal living. She counted on me to pave the way and I was all in. That said, she never fully felt at home. It's hard to accept a new reality, especially one not of our preferred choosing. But I have to think there are enough folks there to find a friend or two and begin to settle into a new life. Thinking of you (and Bing) doing just that.

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    1. Conversations instigated by Bing were the first, in depth, two-way conversations I've had here. It felt good to be useful. At least I hope I was.

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  11. I can only imagine what it'd be like to move to your new home, so I am grateful for the stories you tell here. Insightful and sometimes a bit sad. Have you told Maude/Auntie Mame that you write a blog? Wonder what she'd make of that.

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    1. No way will she or anyone else be told I blog. It would change how I write too much. She is so funny, though, she has appointed people to various jobs on her pretend newspaper---editor, distribution, etc. but so far she hasn't given me one.

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    2. Keep the Blog a closely guarded Secret Jean, otherwise you couldn't be as candid about the new People at the CCC and it's a more interesting read if it doesn't have censorship. *winks*

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  12. You'll find a chum! Someone will pop up with shared interests and humor and they'll 'get' you.

    I get absurdly excited when your posts appear in my email list. Now there's a mystery popping up with Bing and New Woman! I can't get enough, so I'm going to read Effie Wilder's book. Thank you Arkansas Patti!

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    1. I thought I'd read one of Effie's five books but I can't find any proof that I did which makes me wonder if there is another person who has written a similar series.

      I did learn that New Woman moved into an apartment when Bing moved in here. He told me that his granddaughter and her granddaughter set them up and that he cared about her/loved her but he didn't want to get married, didn't want to live with anyone but she moved in anyway.

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    2. That may not end well for New Woman. .....

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  13. I so look forward to Weds and Sat. Such a microcosm living in your CCC. Wish I were there!

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    1. Wouldn't that be fun...but only if I swore you to secrecy.

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  14. Dear Jean, thank you for this wake-up call. I've been away from visiting blogs and posting on my own blog since mid-July. The reason? Truthfully? I've let myself fall into self-pity as I've realized that I am not sure if I will ever write another book. Letting go of the dream of writing a book that others might enjoy is hard for me and I've let it bring me down.

    Today I decided to read some blogs--ones I'd missed--and here I am reading about you and your adventures in this new living facility. And your spirt and wit and ability to, as they say, "make lemonade out of sour lemons" is so inspiring . Thank you.

    Happy Thanksgiving. I hope to begin posting again this Sunday. I want to commit to that and stop binging on BritBox and thus distracting myself from living. Peace.

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    1. Oh, dee I know what that is like to let go of a dream. Sometimes we have no choice...but there is always a compromise to find, a mini dream that relates to our bigger dream.

      Have a good holiday and I'll look for your blog post soon.

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  15. Bing has a wonderful daughter................
    Many have a different version of the same story

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  16. I hope Bing settles in and comes to like his new home. It's good that he was able to open up to you - that's a big deal for a man, I think. His daughter sounds like a real gem and I'm glad he has her in his corner. I wonder about the relationship he has with New Woman. My SIL couldn't stand the fact that her dad was having a loving relationship with another woman after her mom died. It didn't jibe with the fantasy in her head about her parents' "great love story". Spoiler: it wasn't that great.

    Deb

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    1. Don't make too much of it out of him telling me that, I think he was drunk when he told me that. LOL

      Ya, there is an interesting story still to be uncovered about the New Woman, Bing and daughter.

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  17. My goodness that was interesting. He sounds like a lovely person. I hope he feels at home sooner than later.

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  18. I already like Bing and his Daughter, I'm envisioning him as a Sean Connery Scotch aging Heartthrob. Well, I don't have your Romance Novels so I use my Imagination a lot envisioning these Characters you're introducing us to via Words. *Winks* I would think it to be a difficult transition for some to have to leave their Homes, especially if they didn't initiate the Move on their own and Family had to procure more appropriate Placement. I know I picked out the most luxurious Nursing Home for Mom, I'd live there myself... she HATED it. So, after my Brother inherited her, he had to place her in one eventually too and he did what Bing's Daughter is doing and sure enough once she made Friends and had Activities to look forward to, she completely forgot about living Alone or having to live with Adult Kids and was at "Home" there. It made me Glad. Dad only spent a brief time in Nursing Home Care before needing transfer to Hospice... so he lived Independently almost to the End. I sometimes wonder where I'll end up... but I don't fixate upon it and where ever it NEEDS to be, I'll adapt, adjust and improvise.

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    1. As long as I don't end up in a cardboard box under a bridge I will adjust. Things get too bad I'll just live inside my head where I can go any where. Being cold is my biggest worry. I thought I'd be warm here but with the high ceilings and high heat outlets I can't get warm.

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    2. That's why I live in the Arizona Desert. *snicker*

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  19. wow. like high school all over again. :-) What great blog fodder Jean. Bing and Auntie Mame, I love it. I would always feel like Bing if I lived in those surroundings but for his sake I hope he can let go and try to enjoy it. These last few chapters of life are the hardest to me. I understand him. Now I love nothing more than a good ole crusty Scottish dude. Because they are big ole warm squishy centers - you wait you'll see it eventually. I'm glad you are assimilating Jean, there is a lot to like here it sounds like.

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    1. I have not fully assimilated but I will get there, because I want to get there. You can't fight it if you want to end up happy. A friend asked me if I felt like home in my apartment and I said, "Yes," because I carefully curated what I brought with me and planned it all. I kind of think the ones who let their kids take over that job, might have a different answer. No one can tell someone else what is meaningful to your heart better than you can. I also think that the timing has to be right for each person. I didn't move because I just had a medical issue come up which, in itself, causes depression. I moved to free myself of stuff I no longer wanted to do.

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  20. I've always said that everyone has a story and it's true, everyone does. But that's what makes for a good blog post like this.

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    1. Everyone does have a story but some are easier and more interesting to root out when they come from multi sources like Bing's. Most of us are still telling our personal stories in the Disney version, not getting down to the uncensored version. Yet.

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  21. And too, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving to you in your new home.

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  22. Clearly, there's going to be no end to the entertainment for you -- or to plot lines, or gossip, or delightful speculation! I suspect that things will feel a bit different in a few months; everyone's excited now, and trying to make a good impression. When friendships form, and people develop their own routines, it's going to be equally interesting.

    I'm glad to read that your Thanksgiving was good. So was mine, and now it's time to get some things caught up and stop with the desserts for a while!

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    1. I agree, things will change in the coming month in all the areas you mentioned. Also right now the management is throwing all kinds fun things at us to do, and a few of us are worried that if more people don't start taking part in stuff they will quit offering them. For example the exercise classes are not will attended.

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  23. sounds like you've becoming part of the campus and it's people - admire that you are doing things, possibly out of your comfort zone. Dressing up special occasion meals.
    Keep the covid out of the complex - it will sure make it harder for you all, especially as it's still early days of being part of the campus...take care

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    1. I am doing things outside of my comfort zone and I've said before but keeping a blogs helps push me out and about, gives me blog fodder.

      Covid is becoming a major fact of life again here in Michigan.

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