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. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) 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

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Alone but Not Lonely at Christmas


My first holiday season here at the continuum care campus has been busy and it included a bus tour billed as ‘See the Twinkling Christmas Lights.’ It was a lesson for me to read the fine print before adding my name to a list. Had I done so I would have recognized the tour guide’s name from 4-5 bus tours I went on through the senior hall. She spent two and a half hours going around and around the same streets of downtown, parking in front of various buildings to talk about their architecture and history. Some were decorated, some were not. In my head I thought we were going to parts of the city known for their over-the-top lighting displays. Not that kind of tour. And I'd taken this same architecture and history trip before only during the daytime when you could actually see the buildings. The lady in the next seat is new to the area and she loved it. I was cold, bored and wanted to go home after the first hour. 

It was cold, by the way, because 'someone' on the bus asked the driver to turn off the heat. Almost from the first day I met that someone I'd given her the nickname of The Mother because she’s quick to ask for changes around this campus. Very polite about it---but somehow aggressive at the same time, and she gets reactions from the staff. A fellow resident has pinned a less flattering label on her. I wonder what others here have nicknamed me. I’m the one who when I get served fries when I asked for mashed potatoes says, “That’s okay, I’m not that fussy” when they offered to make it right. The Mother would never accept anything but what she asked for.  “How else are they going to learn to pay attention?” Ya, we’ve had that discussion.

Before the bus tour, a tree decorating party kicked off the Christmas season and it came with hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies but I missed all but the last half hour due to an eye doctor appointment. Then on the 20th was our first real party which involved thirty of us gathering around the fireplace and piano to sing holiday songs---some religious, some the silly sort we've known since we were kids. They served a variety of tiny cakes and punch and Bing tried to pass out chocolates filled with 100 proof Irish whiskey but no one was taking any. I wanted to but I also didn't want to be the first one to do so and apparently I wasn't alone with that thought. He came to the party with a sealed box of 24 chocolate bottles and left with a sealed box of 24. Had he opened it before passing it around, there might have been a different outcome. I felt sorry for him, that his gift was so soundly rejected.

Then a Christmas buffet to die-for was the 23rd but no meals were served today, on Christmas. For those of us not going anywhere we could order a special boxed meal we picked up yesterday to warm up today. For those going to family parties they could order homemade pies, dinner rolls or mini loaves of bread to take along. Their bread is so good here I ordered a loaf to slice and another to put in my freezer. I certainly won’t starve to death over the next few days since I have peanut butter, bananas and a frying pan in the house to make an Elvis Special or two.

The kitchen, wait staff and practically everyone else around here has the day off but those of us with no place to go or no one visiting were encouraged to take our food down to the cafe` and eat together at noon today. I plan to take a thermos of coffee down to socialize but I'm not carrying my boxed, stuff chicken breast and trimmings down my carpeted hall, across to the other building and through the lobby. I will not risk being the first person to drop something that will stain the brand new floors. 

All and all I’m quite happy with the way the holiday season has been going here. Some of the residents are having their usually guests coming for their holiday festivities just the same as they’d had at their previous homes and some went to relatives houses for a day or two. Earlier this week my niece brought her Dad and husband up to visit and to tour the place, then they took me out to dinner. That was extra exciting for me and it wouldn't have happened had I still been living on the north end of the city.

Those of us with no place to go Christmas Eve were encouraged to gather on our own down at the fireplace to share stories of past holidays but I was afraid I’d bring the holiday spirits down. Christmas Eve always comes with memories of my dad dying in the wee minutes of Christmas morning. A few weeks before then I had broken my arm in three places and was in a turn-bucket cast that made it necessary for my brother and I to move Dad into a Hospice home. I was an emotional and physical mess and Dad had been unresponsive for several hours. We knew the end was near when his hard-of-hearing roommate turned on the televised Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. Pipe organ music filled the room and my dad opened his unfocused eyes and said, “Am I there yet?” I knew he was looking for the Pearly Gates of Heaven. In better days he'd described them to me, the way he thought they'd be. He died shortly after that and I was still laughing through my tears. I cherish that memory from my Dad’s last minutes on earth as much as a cherish the at-peace look on my husband’s face when he passed over. Being there when someone dies can actually give you a sense of comfort but they're not exactly stories to share in a place where we’re all trying to put a positive spin on our shiny, new lives. So I didn’t go to the fireplace meet-up. I thought about it several times but I was close to tears several times this afternoon so I was afraid they’d run down my cheeks at an inopportune time and I’d have to explain.

Merrily Christmas, my cyber friends! Let's hope all yours and my holiday get-togethers were safe from Covid. A few people here are not going to go to the New Year's Eve party because they think everyone who spent time with their families on Christmas are going to be incubating the virus. Fingers crossed that won't be happening here or at your place. ©

26 comments:

  1. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

    I continue to follow your blog, albeit silently! ~ Libby

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  2. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for sharing your world. I so enjoy your writing.

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  3. "...alone but not lonely." I think that's a very good place to be. It sounds like you've had a good week. Glad to hear you all had a delicious meal on the 23rd. You had me smiling when you said you didn't want to be the first person to stain the new flooring. It reminded me of my mom. She and my dad bought a nice little condo for their last home. Most of the residents were senior citizens. You know how it goes--some folks were particular, others were not. Mom always kept a perfectly clean home her whole life. Although they had cleaning staff at the condo, she made it her job to keep the hallways ship-shape. She'd be out there treating stains and dusting the wood trim. Bless her heart. It sure is a blessing to have memories that make us smile. How sweet that you remembered your dad asking if he was in heaven. May you have many more of those memories. Merry Christmas, Jean! Thank you for all your great posts. I enjoy them very much!

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  4. Merry Christmas Jean! I do so love reading your stories!

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  5. Merry Christmas, Jean, and enjoy the peace and comfort of spending it in your lovely new home, a decision well made.

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  6. Merry Christmas Jean. Seems you are getting the hang of things around there.

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  7. ..... alone too, but bearing up. I have nowhere to go, nobody to visit me, but it could be lots worse.
    I have a cosy home, a Christmas tree, lovely food and drink, books and TV, I am well in body and mind.
    I wish you the same, have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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  8. Merry Christmas. Glad you like your new home.

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  9. Merry Christmas Jean. Always enjoy your stories of the new life style. Good to have the option to be busy or not. Stay safe.

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  10. Your post today was the best gift I could have asked for. I'm happy your holiday is what you'd hoped for when you made this move!

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  11. Jean the Holidays can indeed be bittersweet. I was moved by your Sharing today, I've lost Loved ones during the Holidays, it is difficult to feel Celebratory when painful Memories come at the same juncture of Time. This seemed to be a good change for you with options not to be lonely while living alone, for that I'm so Happy for you. Working Christmas Eve was okay, the rest went downhill at Home, so Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning here were rather disastrous, it happens. We had torrential rains Christmas Eve and it flooded the front part of the RV Garage Mahal and soaked into a box of Old Photos the Guys had inadvertently sat on the floor near the big Door where the water breached the Sandbags. I salvaged all the old pixs and am drying them out... Thankful none were destroyed beyond redemption, no way could they have been replaced. Let us Hope 2022 brings some Positive changes and Prosperity that will eliminate some of the hardships so many have been moving thru this past few Years of chaos and lunacy. Hearing of your new shiny life has brought me a lot of Hope that good changes still happen and we can rejoice in them! Merry Christmas my Friend!

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  12. Merry Christmas Jean, tat was such a funny memory of your dad. I am glad your niece is close by so you are getting to meet her often.

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  13. Merry Christmas and a healthy new year with more of youramusing and enjoyable stories that never fail to brighten my day
    Thanks from an Australian follower

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  14. ꧁•⊹٭π™Όπ™΄πšπšπšˆ π™²π™·πšπ™Έπš‚πšƒπ™Όπ™°πš‚٭⊹•꧂ Sounds like a pretty good "first Christmas" at your new cottage. Looking forward to the New Year!!

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  15. Belated Merry Christmas - as in New Zealand it is now early evening of Boxing Day, the 26th.

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  16. Glad your Christmas Day as merry as it could be. Your move a major life change so not surprising emotionally stimulating memories might be a bit closer to the surface. Being alone doesn't always mean being lonely as some people think, so good you have traveled that road as have I.

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  17. I read this post just after midnight on Christmas, when I was too bleary-eyed to trust myself to make a coherent comment. How complicated the holidays can grow as both wonderful and disturbing memories weave threads through holiday times, too. I applaud the way you remember, acknowledge the pain, and try to build new memories, too. Not everyone can do that, and most of us, no matter how determined we are, have times when we can't. Merry Christmas to you and all your subscribers.

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  18. Thank you, EVERYONE for the holiday wishes and comments. I apologize for being lazy and not replying individually to each one. Christmas day was quiet around here and I've been in a mellow, continued mood. I did take my coffee thermos and down to the cafe' at noon. There were five of us who had no where to go. Over the next two hours we shared a few deep belly laughs and talked about a wide range of subject. A woman I had long ago nicknamed 'the cheerleader' it turns out she actually was a cheerleader in high school and college. She's still cast herself in that roll around here. A petite little blonde but not the stuck up in the least like the younger versions often are. If she's at a table you know it's going to be an upbeat conversation. Also at the table were two sisters who living in separate apartments in the same building. One is 88 and so straight forward and blunt her questions are often the source of humor.

    Afterward I came back to my apartment and heated up my boxed dinner of spinach stuffed chicken breast, sweet potato and a salad. Then I spent the rest of the day pigging out on Christmas movies which I've largely ignored until now.

    I only saw two employees around here on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The security guard said he was getting paid triple time to come to work and weekend Concierge didn't say but I'll bet she did too.

    All and all, I'm happy with my holiday.

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  19. I'm glad it was an ok day for you.
    I caught a cold but then so did my daughter and grandson so we spent it together.

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  20. What a wonderful celebration -- or series of celebrations! -- you had. I'm so pleased for you, and happy that you're settling in and finding your spot in a new and complex community. I completely understand your bit of holiday laziness. There's a time to just kick back and enjoy. Tonight, I'm putting on my DVD of "A Christmas Story," pouring some eggnog, and trying to wrap my mind around the fact that tomorrow's a work day. I don't mind it, to be honest, since we have a full week of warm weather ahead: a perfect Christmas gift!

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  21. They're probably right about New Year's Eve. I'm glad you had a good Christmas and how nice that they had plenty of activities. I also appreciated the story about your dad. I suppose that could bring down a party but I'm glad you can share that with us.

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  22. I'm so glad to hear Christmas went so well and everyone got together who didn't have other Plans outside of the CCC, the Fellowship there is going to be Priceless Jean!

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  23. It sounds like you had an action-packed month of activities there. It sounds like a fun place to be.

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