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

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Stayin’ Alive and Fatalism

 

I like where I’m living but sometimes it feels like I’m living in a high stakes game of Russian Roulette. At any given time over the summer we’ve had one or two people in quarantine because of Covid and we aren’t told who it is. Those who took a class or a meal with one of the quarantined people are told through contract tracing thus the gossip mill quickly figures out who is sick. I’ve always been a bit of a germaphobic before the pandemic and now I get the heebie geebies over elevator buttons and people who seem to forget that quarantine means you don’t go calling on your quarantined neighbor with a plate of muffins. “Oh, I didn’t go inside,” one lady told me at dinner, “I just handed the plate off to her at the door.” Hello! Two hands on the same plate, and one is likely stained with Covid droplets because few people wash their hands before opening doors. If I baked muffins and wanted to do something nice for a quarantined neighbor I’d leave them on the hall side of the door then call on the phone and tell the person what I delivered. Is there no common sense in the world? 

One woman has had Covid three times since moving here. She’s been vaccinated but still had to be hauled away in an ambulance each time she’s gotten it. Two days after her last quarantine ended she showed up at Mahjong and played next to me, passing tiles back and forth and making me wishing I could hang a ‘Typhoid Mary’ sign around her neck. The thought crossed my mind that we should make her play with a long-handled reacher like people use to get stuff off from high shelves. Nothing to fear, I told myself, she has to test negative several times before they let her out of quarantine. 

The topic of going up to northern Michigan’s Traverse City area came up while we played---Typhoid Mary and her husband go often---and I made the remark that I’d like to get up there one more time before I die. A day later we’re sharing an elevator and she says to me, “The next time we go North would you like to ride along?” I replied, “That’s a very generous offer,” but in my head I’m thinking about how paranoid I’ve become. Not only her Covid history flashed a warning sign in my head but also the fact that she and her husband are in the early nineties and I have no idea if their car looks dented and abused the way old people’s cars get just before their kids take their driver’s licenses and keys away. Of course, I’ll come up with some excuse not to go should they come up with a more precise invitation that doesn’t involve admitting that I'd turned into a strange little scary cat. They're also very religious and the topic of God is likely to come up on a long car ride and I'd probably pop off with something like 'God' spelled backward is 'Dog' then go into a monologue about the dogs I've had over the years. Can you tell the dog costume parade last week made me long for another puppy to train?

The first record of anyone playing Russian Roulette is found in an 1840’s short story called, The Fatalist by a Russian poet and writer. Long story short the main character uses a gun with one bullet in an attempt to prove there is no predestination. The first click of the trigger with the gun held to his head produces no bullet but the second click, while the gun is aimed at a window, filled the room with smoke and an ear spitting sound. And he wins twenty pieces of gold with this high stakes game.

But how does someone just spin the cylinder with only one bullet in the chamber on a metaphorical gun of things that can go wrong? Do they use the glass-is-have-full approach and reason that you’ve got a five chances in six of a good outcome? Do you tell yourself you’ve lived a long life and how you die in the end doesn’t really matter? Do you tell yourself that all of life is a gamble and so far you’ve won more often that you’ve lost? I guess the fatalist would say that it doesn't matter how you play it, because what will happen will happen. 

According to Wikipedia ‘fatalism is a view that “human beings are powerless to do anything other than what they actually do. Included in this is the belief that humans have no power to influence the future or indeed the outcome of their own actions.” I see a lot of fatalistic thinking here among my fellow residents and that is no surprise given the fact that so many denominations of Christianity do not believe in free will and that their God has foreknowing of everything that happens to everyone. “If I’m going to get Covid, I’m going to get it,” is often spoken out loud here and I want to shout, Maybe so but you won’t catch me licking the elevator buttons or hugging someone in quarantine. We don’t have to put ourselves in harms way because you think God has a plan for you. Maybe God planned for us all to be smart enough to plot our own futures instead of letting Him do all the heavy lifting. Granted I get carried away in a paranoid kind of way with my belief that I DO have some control over my life but, hey none of us is perfect. 

Remember me mentioning I signed up to see a live minor league baseball game? It took place yesterday. We had great seats and they had very high netting to catch fly balls but seven still ended up out in the crowd, one coming within 15 feet of me. At the only other live game I've been to my husband got hit in the head by a ball that neither one of us saw coming. You'd better believe this time I tracked those balls as if stayin' alive depended on it. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I didn't insist we take Don to the ER to get him checked out because in hindsight I think he had a concussion. ©

40 comments:

  1. Relevant to your title, although nothing to do with the post (which I always enjoy reading, thanks for your thoughts and insights), are you familiar with the Jo Stafford recording of stayin’ alive? A quick explanation, ignore if you know all this already - she and her husband did a party act of deliberately performing songs badly. With her perfect pitch, she could shape a note just off enough to make you clutch your ears and wince. Her husband accompanying her could equally adeptly play just the wrong thing on the perfectly misplaced beat. They ended up recording these as Jonathan and Darlene Edwards. And if you want to go to sleep tonight screaming in equal parts pain and laughter, here’s the link. https://youtu.be/8do_Vsc4Frw

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    1. That sounds like a fun thing to check out. Thanks. I love "stayin alive"---both the song and the idea of---well, stayin alive.

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  2. Jean, your Gallow's Humor really shined on this Post. I was LMAO at things that are not funny, but in the telling of it, are hilarious. The Rona, I'm less intense about it now than I used to be, becoz otherwise I might have stroked out from trying not to get it becoz everyone else seems so indifferent about it. I've had it once, done all I can to be vaxxed to the hilt, managed to survive thus far, so it will just have to do. I couldn't add more stress to life by being paranoid about an illness that is never going away and we botched mitigation of completely as a Country. Even the Countries who were vigilant had their day tho', so perhaps the Fatalist approach is that we cannot 'control' COVID and may never reach that pinnacle with the disease now... so, live life and be cautious and mindful of whose not cautious and limit exposure to them. In your situation of Communal Living, and Advancing Age of everyone, it's a vulnerable space to hold, isn't it? I feel the same with Generational Living, we've got Family 16-70 here, working, going to School, going to lots of Doctor Appointments and such... so our exposure is high and we can't totally avoid it no matter what we try to do in the way of mitigation. People can be so foolish tho', it boggles the Mind how they managed to live this long, doesn't it? *LOL*

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    1. You can drive yourself crazy worrying about things we can't control, but I do believe in controlling what I can. I've never been a Fatalist and I'm not going to start now. But I'm not above getting as much humor out of them as I can. People in my county often say, "I put the problem/question/situation in God's hands" and they are so at peace with whatever. It is that it works for them. I both admire and am appalled by that approach because the fall out of doing nothing is often messy to clean up.

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  3. So very sorry about your husband getting hit with that baseball. I'm thinking that after the nasty fall I had recently that I should get checked out again (they did an immediate CT scan there at the hospital, but still...)

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    1. An ambulance personal recently told us that all hits to the head in a person over 65 need to be checked out. It's why so many falls here result in an ambulance ride.

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  4. I used to teach the idea of Predestination when I taught The Crucible, Arthur Miller's play about the Salem Witch Trials. It was important to give some background of Puritan history. My students were often frustrated by the whole idea of it. "If they believed that God had already decided who was to be saved and who wasn't, and nothing you did could change it, then why did anyone bother to be good?" they always asked.

    Why, indeed?

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    1. I'm with your students on that question. I'd like to know how you answered it because I don't "get" that kind of faith. That God will choose you and smite someone else who might be just as moral and ethical but doesn't believe in Him as a savior doesn't make any sense.

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  5. I'm surprised that you are not getting better information about who is getting sick. Keep taking your precautions-- it is the one thing you can do.
    Glad you got to see the minor league game. I use to love those in Vero. That was sad about Don getting beaned and one of the reasons the netting is so high now days. The balls can still get you. My sister were at a game in Jupiter and while standing on a landing between stairs, one landed right between us. Smart to keep your eye on the ball.

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    1. It's that law that health care facilities can't release information about anyone's health and our campus is under that umbrella. The contact tracing is done by the county and, of course, those who were notified are not by law bound to secrecy. Thus we get our information by the gossip train. Takes longer but it always comes out who is under quarantine and who was seen going down to the office for testing after being contacted traced. If someone on staff gets it, sometimes we are all advised to get tested.

      I can honestly say I like watching baseball on TV better than an in person minor league game. I miss the announcers and the playbacks. And the close up of the players.

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  6. I think it seems like every place has its own Covid rules, lately. When I went to the dentist, no masks were required. Of course, the dentists and staff are always masked. Sometimes they take your temp at our clinic, other times, they don't. You do have to wear your mask at the clinic, though. But what I find even more frustrating is the lack of consistency when it comes to those who are in power to make decisions affecting Covid. Where we live, it seems everyone is tired of being careful, so kids don't wear masks on the bus or in the classroom unless they want to. I do understand being tired of it all. Who isn't?! I guess each of us will have to do what we think is best. I think I'd be a little paranoid living in a shared environment, too. Glad you made it to the ball game!

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    1. That's true. Here, where I live the quarantine is 10 days long even though the CDC cut it back to five recommended. But because so many in the population are vaccinated the risks of getting it so badly like those in the beginning of the pandemic did are much lower. All the medical buildings around here including the dentists are requiring masks. I think what looks like inconsistencies is just the county health departments adjusting covid rules to the number of active cases in the area. It's not the same everywhere like it was during the pandemic. And I'm betting the schools have better disinfectant methods than they used to. I know we got a grant to pay for big machines to disinfect public areas and I would think schools did too.

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    2. That's a good point about schools having better disinfectant abilities now. Never thought of that.

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  7. I think people who believe that a god or gods make all the decisions for them, are simply lazy. It’s just a cop out for not taking self responsibility. I could go on, but I don’t want to be banned😜.
    As for Covid, just do what you can for yourself to keep reasonably safe.

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    1. You won't get banned by me, but I could lose a few readers. LoL

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  8. I wouldn't enjoy a car ride with the couple you mentioned. Too many dodgy variables involved there. [They don't happen to drive a Dodge, do they? That'd make my comment clever.] As for fly balls at baseball games, they scare me too. I'm not a fatalist so I pay attention to the game.

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    1. They are a super nice couple to have as casual neighbors and the guy is really funny. But I'm making a rule to not ride with anyone over 85 at the wheel. The woman in the next parking space can't see gray and I have a gray car and she purposely bumps into her storage unit to know when to stop.

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  9. UGH! I can't imagine having Covid three times! The grapevine here keeps us informed also. Good for you for NOT riding with a 90 year old driver! Or any driver that you have qualms about. I'm not driving much these days and I'm 70. Luckily, I have built in drivers!

    I agree about watching sports on TV rather than live. Kinda the same with world travel as well. It was fun doing a lot in person when I had my traveling buddy but I love revisiting via the internet.

    Countdown to Writing Club!

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    1. Yup, having lost a great travel buddy I know exactly what you mean. I could travel well with family, I think, but that's not likely to happen so the internet is a pretty good way to go now days.

      The Covid couple have really gotten sick from it too.

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  10. Stay as safe as you can while enjoying life!

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  11. People are becoming complacent about Covid, well it seems that way to me not as many people are being tested and hand washing is falling because people don't see the need.

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  12. And this is exactly why I haven't played mahjong for 2-1/2 years! Too much touching/passing/handling of the tiles. I miss it a lot, but I know some of the ladies I used to play with aren't very careful. Additionally, I can' re-visit or move into a CCC here -- the other residents get sick and I could put my own health at risk. I'm fully vaxxed & double boosted but I'm not willing to put my health in jeopardy. Especially since I am alone. I'm located in the heart of the "bible belt" and I'm not of the persuasion of an all-knowing and "saving" G-d. I'd have a hard time fitting in at an overly-religious CCC, so I totally relate to your comments.

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    1. I make sure I wash my hands before and after playing Mahjong and every time I walk into my apartment.

      I have mixed feelings about living alone and living in close contact with others. I do think a little exposure to germs is a good thing because you build up a tolerance to the common stuff. And alone you can get very sick with no one to step in to help. Getting the regular flu and being so sick I couldn't pick myself off the floor was a deciding factor in me deciding it was time to move.

      The Bible Belt and not being of the "mainstream" religion of the CCC's there would be a hard row to hoe. I've been living with the types I'm around now all my life so it' nothing new and can't be avoided, no matter where I live. But I don't get close to people because of it.

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  13. We're still in the unicorn group that hasn't gotten Covid. But it feels inevitable sometimes. My DH played golf with his group yesterday and at lunch afterward, they asked who hasn't had Covid yet. Only two people out of the the nine and some of the others have had it multiple times. We're still doing our best to avoid it. I suspect some of it is luck, some is genetics, and some of us have had it and don't know. But who knows?

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    1. Me neither. I think the longer it goes on the milder the cases get because we've got at least some immunity from the vaccines and nature. Still wish it hadn't been mishandled in the beginning of the pandemic because it sure hurt your health care community and now we have a shortage of doctors and nurses who got burned out.

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  14. Well, I figure God gave us our brains to use. Far too many Christians are far too eager to hand over their lives and decision making to their "authorities," just as some people prefer to adopt easy, second-hand opinions about [insert any issue here] rather than coming to their own conclusions.

    Your post got me thinking about how I was shaped as a child by this popular song of the time. My mother sang that to me all the time, and I often sang it myself while I was swinging or riding my bike. Thinking that "what will be, will be" isn't fatalism in my book. It's just a way of approaching life that accepts that we never know what's coming: good or bad.

    I'll say this -- I can understand why there needs to be more caution about Covid in a living situation like yours, but I'm long past even thinking about it, let alone worrying about it. The way I figure it, I'm as likely to get smooshed on the highway by some dude in a jacked-up truck as to get some disease. Que sera, sera!

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    1. Ya, it's like a school where colds and infections can spread fast by the staff who often work in more than one health care facility. I took a friend to Urgent Care tonight and while waiting two your two people came in with Covid symptoms. It's still around but not like during the pandemic when no one had any immunity to it.

      Interesting thing to ponder---if "what will be will be" is different or the same as fatalism. It's packaged sweeter with the images from our childhood and that song but otherwise I'm not sure I see any other difference.

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    2. Fatalism assumes whatever shows up will be bad. Que sera, sera, allows for the possibility of the unexpected being positive.

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    3. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says: "Though the word “fatalism” is commonly used to refer to an attitude of resignation in the face of some future event or events which are thought to be inevitable, philosophers usually use the word to refer to the view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do." And that does not assign 'bad' or 'good' to what is about to happen. It's a matter of perception. Theological fatalism suggests that God does not make mistakes therefore if you wait long enough any bad that comes to Man will turn into good, aka a flood that destroys homes and livelihoods brings out the charity and love in others who help them recover.

      Que sera, sera is a very nice philosophy to live by---,makes good natured people---but it's still sugar coated Theological fatalism.

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    4. Oops, I should have added "In my opinion." LoL

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    5. That's why I sing more often than I read philosophers, and cherish a sweet childhood memory.

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    6. Wow! Look what just popped up in my inbox: "How to Read Philosophy. I gave it and once through and enjoyed it enough to save it and give it a closer read. You might enjoy it, too.

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    7. Thanks! I just signed up. Philosophy classes were my favorite in college.

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  15. Yup. Too many easy excuses. You can probably take a bus up there and ubers or such when you arrive. Anything but being in a car with two 90-year-olds with dents, Covid and are a fan of talking religion! I'm still super careful, masks in stores and all that jazz. A little looser -- but not too loose. I know I'll really button down in October and beyond.

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    1. I got my first Uber app today. and took first two Uber rides.

      The older couple are super sweet people and very classy. But I still wouldn't ride that far with someone with so few common interests....and the age thing.

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  16. We just had Covid in our house, first my sister, then my husband who is still dealing with some of the effects, although he tested negative finally (10 days). But I haven't gotten it, and I really expected to, being a wheelchair-bound stroke survivor. I've been wondering about that, but a couple of days ago I read this article about selenium, and now I think that may be at least part of the answer. I have been supplementing with selenium for many years, since I read about it in association with cancer (my mom died of cancer). The study noted that selenium deficiency led to worse outcomes, and in one study, 100% of the people who died from covid were selenium-deficient. Here's the article:

    https://hopefulgeranium.blogspot.com/2020/08/selenium-reduces-covid-19-risk-back-of.html

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    1. I think I've heard about that theory. It's as good as any as to why some people get Covid so easily yet other who may be even living in the same house don't get it. I just looked it up and think I eat a lot of the foods that are rich in Selenium which is encouraging. Glad you have managed to avoid it!

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  17. Interesting topic. There seems to be a lot of man-made dogma in most religions, many specifics based on the culture of the time. Most seem to have an equivalent of Christianity's Ten Commandments which can be challenge enough to follow, so that could be enough for everyone to focus on to create a decent world in which to live. I along ago concluded we don't know for sure about whether our future pre-planned so I don't presume it is one way or another. I think it's more like that book series "Choose Your Own Adventure" that offers different choices each of which results in a different outcome. We have a brain to consider our choices and pick one, each of which will have a different outcome we don't necessarily know.

    I can appreciate some of your dilemma given the Covid situation. Guess you just have to use your best judgement and do whatever you can be comfortable with given your risk tolerance.

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    1. I find hard to believe that if there is a God that he/she wouldn't want us to use the brains that came with our bodies. We have the choice to create our own heaven or hell here on earth.

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