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, September 28, 2022

The First Anniversary

Writing by orders or dictate has never been my thing. I can’t for example dash off a poem to stand up and read at our first anniversary of the continuum care place where I live. Ya, I was asked to do that at a party being planned by the Resident Council. Have I mentioned lately how glad I am that I didn’t agree to be part of that group? I was also asked to help with floral arrangements for all the tables and I used my hand surgeries for an excuse---as if I needed one beyond, “No.” Why is saying ‘no’ to someone so hard to do? The guy in charge of planning the party is an old florist like I was but he’s barely mobile. He’s appointed himself to decorate the lobby for the seasons and holidays and anyone who helps him ends up doing the leg work, hauling stuff up from his storage unit. I’m still mobile enough to do it but I’m either a selfish person who doesn’t see the point of doing for free what the management of the place should and would have paid a service to do before Mr. Florist got involved or I prefer my low key persona where I watch the action rather than be the action. 

Guys like him, I’m guessing, have their self-worth more closely tied to their past professions than most women in my generation. We measure ourselves on different scales at different points in our lives. At least I do. I measure myself in terms of emotional grow and life experiences rather than what I did to put food on the table. He says he still loves making floral arrangement because they make women happy. Being a woman I get that. But being a floral designer is just something I used to do, it’s not who I am anymore or who I want to be. I suppose if I’d had an esteemed career I might feel differently and I’d want to flaunt it. But---surprise, surprise---we’ve had an astrophysicist on campus from the beginning and I couldn’t have picked him out in a lineup until this week. He squirrels himself away in his apartment writing a book about astrophysics which disappointed me; I’d hope our not-so-mythical author who was rumored to be pounding away on his computer was a fiction writer and he’d want to share his passion for writing in my creative writing group. Nope. He’s a serious man on a serious mission and more power to him. He could give lessons on saying ‘no.’ When he told me what the book was about I said, "I'm guessing that means you don't want to join our creative writing group?" He laughed and just shook his head.

The anniversary party does sound fun, though, if they can work out the differences of opinion on whether or not it should be a fancy-dress up event---kind of like a prom for old people---or if ordinary go-to-church-on-Sunday clothing will do. The latter seems to be winning at the moment but The Council will let us know before October fifth. Then I can decide if it’s worth getting a cobalt blue silk blouse/maxie shirt I’ve had since the ‘70s dry cleaned or not. I’ve adored that shirt for decades, but I’ve never wanted to wear it where I might spill something on it. But I’m eighty-freaky-years old! What am I saving it for? Jewel tone colors are my friends. I could live in royal blue, magenta purple, jade green and ruby red. Throw in a lot of black and white and I just might redo my wardrobe to reflect what I always wanted to be: Queen of the color wheel.

There are three women here who hang out together and usually wear black and white and when they enter a room one is in the front with the two others fanned out behind in a V-shape like superheros on a comic book cover and I’ve taken to calling them The Force. If you've seen the movie, Queen Bees you’ll be able to picture the women who always draw attention where ever they go. And I have no idea why I’m putting them in this paragraph other than to say I think The Force ruined my go-to black and white outfit for when I want to look nice.

One day, I promise, I’ll quit talking about updating my wardrobe and actually do it. I did buy two cashmere turtleneck sweaters from L.L.Bean---one black, the other one gray---and a ruby colored, Jessica London vest plus a gray cardigan crew sweater from Land's End  that I'll end up buying in multi-colors if I don’t keep my credit card tucked safely out of reach. Can you tell I got cold on a day when I had too much time on my hands? That cardigan sweater makes me feel like Patti Page without the traffic cone breasts that women seemed to grow back in the ‘50s. Someday I am going to drag everything out of my closet and only put back what I truly love and when the day comes I’ll blog about it. Before I die I’d love to have a wardrobe that looks planned rather than bought willy-nilly. Ya, I know I've recycling that dream over and over and over in my head to the point it feels so real I don't actually have to act on it. Don't tell anyone but that's my super power---day dreaming. Always has been, always will be. ©

* Stock photo above of Patti Page, 1955

32 comments:

  1. I don't think I've bought anything to wear -- apart from one pair of jeans -- from anyplace other than Land's End in years. I love their stuff -- it lasts. I live in their fleece and their cardigans are great too. For years, even after I retired, I was identified by what I did (and where I did it) and I'd really rather be identified for what I AM. Now that I've been retired for awhile, it's the latter and so much less pressure! The party sounds fun. Go jewely and wear the blouse -- it sounds pretty.

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  2. Glad you identified picture of the lady with who seemed to be trying to make a point. I loved Patti Page's voice but really didn't recognize her.
    Your prom for old folks sounds interesting. I guess you can't talk them into making it casual so it will be easier to bust a move?
    Had to smile at your probably buying that sweater in multi-colors. I do that too much.

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    1. That style of bra was so weird and I remember Patti for wearing those more than for her singing.

      The guy who wanted it black tie formal got shot down rather quickly. Now it's just Sunday church style for the party. Thank goodness. No way would I by a formal dress at my age to wear just once.

      I'm finding a lot of people here do buy a favorite top in more than one color.

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  3. We'll probably never understand why it's so hard for some of us to say no. It used to be very hard for me, but when my health took a dive, people gave me a break (hey, there's always a silver lining, huh?). Now that we've moved to a new location, I'm being really careful not to volunteer for things I truly don't love to do. It's probably not true, but sometimes it seems like it's easier for men to say no than women. Jean, I applaud you for doing what you want to do. Writing poetry for a special event and decorating those large spaces sounds like a huge undertaking. Don't blame you a bit for turning them down. The anniversary party should be really fun, though, and I look forward to hearing about it!

    I love all the jewel tones, too. Not long ago, my daughter told me that I look better in those colors, so I'm starting to go through my closet with the goal of giving away anything in the wrong color or fit. I don't need anything extra collecting dust. I'm a sucker for LLBean and Lands End, too. I know their quality isn't quite what it used to be, but it's a heckuva lot better than most. Several years ago, I ordered sweatshirts from LE in jewel tones, and they are wonderful. I found them under the "school" category. It's not just for youngsters. There's basic stuff for adults, too. I know it's geared for schools with dress codes, but hey, I found some great deals. Their zip up hoodies are great, too. I love their socks, too.

    I sure don't miss those pointy bras. My gosh. Some things are so much better now....remember the old cotton bras that had absolutely no stretch? I'll stay in this century, lol.

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    1. I only have a couple of years left and I'm not going to waste time on stuff I don't want to do. Some people truly seem to love the lime light and more power to them. It's just not me.

      I discovered the 'school' category too and love those simple, classic styles. But I've got to say I really don't like the new style bras on the market now that have their own shape made of of form of some kind. I'm having trouble finding a bra I like this year.

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    2. Jean, check out the Playtex support and wirefree bra, #4745. Nowadays they sell them everywhere--even WalMart. Another favorite of mine is the 18-hr Breathable Comfort, #4159.

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  4. About saying no … try this, “I’m so flattered you’d ask, but that’s just not going to work for me.” Politely delivered.

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    1. I like the "I'm flattered you asked" part and I need to work on the 'politely delivered' part. LoL

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  5. I always had trouble saying no. My husband taught me to say NO, not NO BECAUSE OF BLAH BLAH. That "because"word gave the asker the opening to counter my no with why I could still do it. A simple no I'm unable to help solves the problem.

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    1. Your husband is a wise man and I can see him and his sense of humor carrying that "no" off. Don had trouble saying no and he knew how to do so many things and had trucks so he was asked often. My dad spent so much time helping others that my mom would get mad because he'd run out of time to do his own stuff. There is always someone to take advantage of the ones who can't say no.

      I think many women are programed to be people pleasers too and even if we learn the ''just say no'' trick it comes with guilt.

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  6. You did an excellent job of getting rid of things in order to move to your new home. You made a lot of decisions and figured out what was important and best to keep. I know you'll do that for your closet, too, when it's the proper time. It just hasn't been the right time for you yet.

    I do it twice a year and bag it all up, calling the Vietnam Vets to come pick it up for donation. During the year, I often set things aside on a shelf for that purpose. I've yet to pull anything off that shelf. As you (sort of) said, Life is short, and I'm not going to wear anything I don't want to or feel comfortable in. And if I haven't worn it in a long, long while, chances are that I'm not going to and I don't need it.

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  7. I dress for comfort now and don't mind wearing things again and again. I wouldn't care what others are wearing. I don't have many fancy clothes left.
    Good luck with the closet clean out!

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    1. I've dressed for comfort for years. Sweats were my go-to. Apparently most of us downsized fancy clothes out of our wardrobes when we moved here because there wasn't much support for a black tie party.

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  8. I don't look great in jewel tones, but I like them. I mix them in with my grays and blacks and blues. If you can wear them and like them then I'm sure you need them. I like Bean and LE, but they ain't what they once were-- used to be always quality, now it's more hit or miss.

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    1. I lack color in my skin and my hair is silver gray so I really look my best in jewel tones. They seem to be the in colors this season so I do need to buy while I can because next year it will be tones I hate. Land's End is new to me as of this year but I've been buying my better clothing at LL Bean for years.

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    2. If I find some type of clothing that works for me, I usually end up buying multiples in different colors. Partly because you never know if it will be available again if/when I need it. But, I'm a Gemini and we always have to have duplicates. Two sweaters, two jackets, two husbands...:)

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  9. It was hard to learn to just say no. And nothing else. But it really really works!

    Bra shopping is really difficult. All I want is comfort and ease of getting into it. I've tried two that are not Playtex but sent them back. If you find anything good, let us all know!

    I can't believe it has already been a YEAR for your CCC. Well done, my friend. well done!

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    1. I hate that you find a bra style you like and they discontinue it. I really hate those foam rubber cups that have a life of their own.

      We are closing in on a year October 5th. Hardly seems possible.

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  10. Wow! You've already been there a year...that flew by! A party sounds like fun, but I'm with you on the formal dress. I struggled with an outfit for my nephew's wedding knowing most things I considered I wouldn't wear again soon if ever. I finally found some separates that I know I'll wear again...someday. LOL.

    Saying no is hard for me, too, and I commend you on backing away using whatever excuse you need. I am working on just saying no, or I can't do that, or that won't work for me. But just no still seems hard for me without any embellishment. (Oh, and I agree that more retired men still identify themselves by what they did and DH agrees.)

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    1. Weddings seem to be less and less formal than they used to be bur I'm kind of out of the years where family is getting married or having babies so I don't have that problem of what to wear anymore.

      Just saying 'no' seems so abrupt and borderline rude but it really isn't. Still struggle with it the guilt of saying no with or without an explanation.

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  11. A bra was the first thing I put on of a morning, but not any more generally don't wear one as i rarely leave the house

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    1. I don't like going bra-less, but I'm usually up a couple of hours before I get one on.

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  12. That photo gave me a flashback to a day when my mom and I encountered a woman who had enormous breasts (think Jayne Mansfield) and a bra like that. I was probably 10 and had lots of questions for my mother. What a fun memory! And I'm in the no-bra camp but force myself to wear one in public.
    Nina

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  13. The Torpedo Breast look always cracked me up. I was of the Hippie Era of going Braless. I could have easily become a Nudist I think. *LOL* I feel the same sentiments as you about my Corporate Lives, they don't define me since they were merely a means to an end to make me a lot of Money, and it did. So, it's certainly not something I'd do again for Free, so unless it made me a lot of Money again, I don't even think about what I used to do for my Careers. The only things I have always done with no regards to Money is whatever I am Passionate about, Charity and Volunteer Work, Art, Blogging, Photography, Writing... stuff like that I'd do whether or not it ever made me a Cent. I can say No very easily, but what I have observed is that a lot of people aren't used to being told No and so it throws them when you can easily just use that response and keep it moving. *LOL* I guess they're used to being let down more gently or need a reason, I don't feel obligated to give one tho'.

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    1. People who never worked in the floral industry but who are attracted to it see it as 'fun' but never see the hours on your feet or the physical pain of doing the same thing over and over again. And the stress of getting things done fast when needed not to mention the occasional picky, hard to please customer. There are several around her that just don't understand me not wanting to do it again. Not to mention my skills got left behind 40 years ago!

      You are still sending off the hippie vibe. And I agree that the things we do for passion---art, writing, etc---are the only things that matter after retirement whether we make money or not.

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  14. Think of saying 'no' as just another form of closet cleaning. All you're doing is clearing your life of things you're not inclined toward, or interested in doing -- things that don't 'fit' your personality any more. I may have shared this with you before, but it's something I read every now and then. It actually was part of a comment I left on someone's blog about a decade ago:

    "I’m down to about twenty years now, give or take, and getting in shape, preserving the good health I have, and not wasting time on the stupid, the boring, or the irrelevant is right up there on top of my list. If I manage to avoid stupid, boring, and irrelevant, I’ll have plenty of time for what’s important."

    Just a note -- I've been working like crazy, trying to get two boats finished up prior to Wednesday, when the year's biggest offshore race/regatta takes place. One down, one to go, but in the meantime I've been falling pretty far behind with my blogging -- and my sleep! I need to catch up, because I've been thinking about a couple of blogs back when you were talking about the creative writing group. I haz insights!

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  15. I once had a desire to work in the floral industry. Until I spent a day job shadowing in the floral shop. WOW! Hard job! I was disavowed of my "fun" fantasies and got a secretary job. Which was awful. So maybe a hard job that involved flowers would have been better? I don't know. It's funny what we fall into for whatever reason. But we don't have to define ourselves by it.

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  16. I'm 80 freaky years old myself. And reading your blog makes me want to move somewhere to have friends. I think your writing temps me to do more. I really enjoy reading your posts that I had missed. So, today is the 5th so what you gonna wear to the prom? :)

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    1. My post on the 12th is going to be all on the party. I just got back from it and, boy, was it FUN! Writing a blog forces me out into the social culture here more than I'd normally do...and I'm glad about that. It gives me something blog write about.

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