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 3, 2022

The Season of Parties


Saturdays are a crap shoot when it comes to trolling for conversation at the cafe’ here at the continuum care complex where I live. We old people seem to be creatures of habit honed to perfection back in our working days when Saturdays were for shopping and catching up on laundry and housework. It was never my day off day per se. Being in the wedding business for twenty years, my Mondays were other people’s Saturdays but here Saturdays are slow. No classes take place, no card games. It’s not unusual for me to be the only one keeping the waitress and cook off the unemployment line. Today, however, they were hosting a viewing party for residents who are into college football so they could watch a game together. Me, I don’t like contact sports---baseball isn’t one, is it?---so when I came down for lunch I sat in the farthest corner I could get away from the TV.

My brother played football in high school so I understand the objective and rules of the game and I spent a year during my chameleon dating era pretending an interest in more than the chips and cheese at tailgate parties while my jock of a boyfriend went full-out fan supporter. His life, thus my life by the rules of The Chameleon Girlfriend Club, revolved around college and professional football schedules. I really thought he was THE ONE and I can’t help thinking about him when ever I hear the song, Unanswered Prayers.

Speaking of parties here, birthday parties are fast becoming my favorite thing to do around. The guy they hired for our latest monthly party is well known at the local bars and summer outdoor parks where he makes his living singing Jimmy Buffet and the playlist of my life from the ‘50s to the ‘70s. He even throws in a little Willy Nelson who was my husband’s favorite country western singer/song writer. I don’t know what they pay the people the activities director hires but it’s got to be their standard rates because we don’t get amateur hour entertainers here, even though the number of people who show up for these parties is often an embarrassingly low number under two dozen.

Another activity was added new to our holiday calendar this year. A gingerbread house building contest. They furnished the kits with all the trimmings but I made a run to the Dollar Store to buy alternative candy so mine will hopefully look different. Stupid me, at the Thanksgiving dinner table we were talking about the contest when someone said, “That won’t be any fun. The houses will all look the same.” I had to open my mouth to mention my trip to the Dollar Store. "Is that against the rules?" someone asked. "Not that I read," I replied, "but all gingerbread house contests require everything on the house to be eatable so I'm assuming that rule applies to us." I'm having fun making mine and I'll take photos when they are due for the judging. I really hope the 'only edible' rule applies to us because someone has already waved it off and is adding plastic figures. A friend from my writing group is making spun glass/sugar windows and I want him to win. He showed me photos, his house is spectacular!

We also had a holiday decorating and tree trimming party. They had one last year and I didn’t go. Even the promise of hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies couldn’t make me cancel my standing haircut appointment, but that was only half the story. I was also avoiding getting involved with the other x-floral designer here on campus who was trying to volunteer my services (along with his) to decorate all the public spaces. It was a good call. I have zero interest in reliving my past glory the way he does. Now, every holiday large or small he has taken to provided our lobby with decorations. Although at one point I felt sorry for him as he sat alone at table making dozens of bows for a Christmas tree. I stopped to talk to him but I didn't cave when asked to stay awhile and help. This year I fully intended to help decorate the lobby but as I walked through the staging area there were 12-14 people standing around discussing their own ideas. When it comes to creative decisions, I don't like making them by committee so I kept on walking. They printed one of my poems in the newsletter, so no one can say I don't contribute to the community.

The holiday season is bringing lots of musical events to the residents here but I have very little interest in going downtown to hear Christmas concerts or to churches in the area to hear their choirs sing so I can’t write about what I don’t see and hear. I’m just not into that kind of music but if I was we do have new transportation that will make it safer and more dependable than what we’ve been using. We actually have our own bus now! I’ve been in the tin can they rented last summer but I wouldn’t ride in it during the slip and slide, crash, boom season. I have an unnatural fear of dying in a car accident. Had it ever since the '80s when we had a neighbor who worked as an EMT driver and she’d come home from a shift all excited to share her experiences like holding a person’s eye ball or an amputated leg in her hand. She loved the gore at bad accidents, but she described the gory details to the wrong person once and got fired. After that she worked in a hospital drawing blood. The  'vampire' nickname people have for blood draw techs fit her to a tee.

We have a wandering choir coming to campus to sing Christmas carols up and down the road. I'm sure that will remind me of a Hallmark Christmas movie. And, yes, I'm one of those who binges on Hallmark Christmas movies starting in November. At least they aren't fattening and they point out a little known secret to all the single women of the world. The secret is that all the hot guys who are ready to settle down are back in the small towns of America. So if you're out there looking for Mr. Right, go home and visit your parents or grandparents this holiday season. ©

32 comments:

  1. I;m bored with the Hallmark Christmas movies. Too similar. I do like the newer ones ... The Santa Clause, Elf and a brand new one on AppleTV, so I signed up for a free week just to watch it (Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds) "Spirited" a take on the Christmas Carol story. Will Ferrell always makes me laugh! Going to decorate a gingerbread house from kit on Saturday with WLLO friends. Have invitations to a Winter Solstice get together and my boss at the food pantry is hosting an open house (unfortunately the day I do clear liquids and start the yucky stuff that evening). It gets dark here at 4:30!!!

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    1. Hallmark Movies are predictable and that's what I like about them. You can multi-task and not miss anything. You can watch any part of them and not miss anything too. I watch a lot of thrillers on Netflixs that are full of crime and hate so the balance of pure love for the holidays is a nice break.

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  2. Music always sets a scene for me, so I love when bloggers provide a soundtrack for some memory or ongoing activity. While I'm neither a country western in general or Garth Brooks fan, I loved listening to the song while reading about your experience. Before rheumatoid arthritis took away my ability to play the violin, I had worked myself up to playing with the local community symphony orchestra, after starting violin classes at 58. So, I'd be attending those church concerts! I like knowing your community offers difference choices.

    My husband, of all people, also loves Hallmark movies. Bruce Willis and other action stars are his usual fare. Grandchildren are charmed by this detail of their gruff grandfather's personality. From my casual viewing when walking through the house, I'd say there must be a program for voluntary or involuntary euthanizing of us older people except for a few key people in the small towns where they're set. We're far and few between on those movies.

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    1. That's quite an accomplishment learning the violin at 58 and playing with the local symphony. I turned down a ticket to go last night. I might have gone but it was 4:00 and I wad dead tired and I would have had to be ready but 6:30.

      Older people in Hallmarks have been trending upward this last year or two and often they get a subplot of falling in love along with main younger, characters. Or the older characters are engineering the younger ones to be thrown together. I've even been known to watch Hallmark's Christmas in July movies. Love that your husband gets doing the break from his regular viewing like I told A.W. up above that I do.

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  3. Those Birthday parties sound fun. Interesting how there are few activities on the weekends. Maybe that is when most people's families are able to do their visiting so attendance might be slow. Though when I visited my Mom, I enjoyed the planned entertainment. Of course that was assisted living.
    Hope you win the gingerbread contest or the spun glass guy does.

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    1. He will will. He even cut the kit apart and redesigned the roof line. Very gutsy thing to do and he made those ice cream cone trees with spearmint leaves.

      People here go out to eat a lot with family or shopping, especially this time of the year.

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  4. Glad Christmas is good at the CCC I'm at the Emergency room with the Son...he had a severe reaction to a šŸ¦‚ Scorpion sting and needed anti venom treatment...scared me to see him having a life threatening reaction... he's responding to the treatment... šŸ˜„

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    1. Oh, my god! I hope the next 24 hours will have your on back on his feet again.

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  5. Back when hubby and I were still working, Saturdays were absolutely nuts. Yard and garden work, house cleaning, grocery shopping and a bit of cooking. We did it for years, though. Thinking about it makes me realize I need to be grateful for the freedom and flexible schedule that come with being older.

    It sounds like the Christmas season has taken off at the ccc. I'm anxious to see your gingerbread house. It will be fun for you to see the other residents' creations, too.

    Kudos to whomever is responsible for getting you a new bus! That should open up all kinds of opportunities. I've said it before, and saying it again, I think you're in an awfully good spot, Jean. Hope your leg is healing and you're well. (There's a lot of sickness around us, lately).

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    1. We've got a case of covid here with someone in quarantine. That scares me as we have a little waitress who loves to hug everyone. I really don't like it and think of her as typhoid Mary. She would be a super spreader of colds, the flu or Covid. I know I'm a bit of a germaphobic but seeing her hug 8-9 people in a row bugs me.

      Christmas is really busy here. In addition to our usual schedule of classes and what I've mentioned in this blog they also have Christmas Bible classes, series of some kind that meets weekly during December and I want to a class on how to handle someone with dementia through the holidays.

      I'll know more on my leg on the 14th with I go back. It's still open, but I think it's shallower.

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  6. Decorating gingerbread houses sounds like a fun idea. If plans had not already been made around here, I'd suggest it. I'll keep in mind for next year though.

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    1. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on candy. I bought on package just to get one star for the Christmas tree and three kinds of pretzels. All I have left to do on my is build a split rail fence with the pretzels.

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  7. You're a wise woman to not attempt to relive your past glory days. Also, who doesn't like a birthday party? It appears that you've landed smack dab in the heart of birthday land. I love it for you.

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    1. the day of our birthday party I went next door to visit my brother and they are just starting an hour of live music so I got two concerts in one day. In memory care where he is at they do two musical events a month. They only had 8 or so patients there and the same good quality of performer as we had. They fund raise for a grant to bring that music in and they just announced they made their goal for 2023.

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  8. Your social director does a great job of providing variety to the residents there. It's nice to be able to pick and choose what you want to do. You have had a lot of fun there.

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  9. I really didn't expect to have so much to do when I moved here, but its really a good fit for me. I was more lonesome in my old house living alone through Covid lockvdown that I thought I was.

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  10. Good for you for standing your ground with the floral guy, Jean. Hallmark movies - are they not the cinematic equivalent to Harlequin Romance books? Always the Happily Ever After...who doesn't want to escape into that for a brief time? I watched a couple of new Christmas movies - Spirited and A Christmas Story Christmas. Both well done but I enjoyed the latter much more. If you are a fan of A Christmas Story, I highly recommend it!

    Deb

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    1. Yup, that's exactly what they are...predictable love stories with happy endings. Event the actors and actresses often make repeat appearances in movies. Can be cornball but still they hit all the holiday traditions which I haven't really had in my life since my mom died. I'll see if I can find your suggestions.

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  11. I remember the days of chameleon girlfriending. Chameleon socializing generally, for years. While it broadened my exposure and sometimes my interests, this avenue to popularity yielded little satisfaction. I finally concluded I was to be a misfit forever. Only with wrinkles, gray hair and ebbing energy have I discovered the pleasure of breathing life into my own interests, as incidental as they may be to others. Why oh why did it take so long to spread my wings?

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    1. The social norms of era (before Gloria Stienem) told women we were supposed to be subservient to our mates and the Chameleon Girlfriend Club was just an extension of how we thought we had to be to get a husband. At least that's my excuse. By the time I met Don I was over all that stuff and with him I could just be me.

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    2. That reminds me of my mother, "Never let the boys know how smart you are or you'll never find a husband." I'm glad those days are over, but I would hate to be young now and have to date.

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    3. I would too. Dating would be SO hard in today's world. And I'm glad Andy figured out how smart you are.

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  12. How can a gingerbread house contest be a contest if all the materials are the same? I'm with you...bend those rules!
    Your response to another comment struck home. I'm never lonely per se, but I've become of aware of how unhealthy - even debilitatiing - isolation can be, so need to force myself to go out more.

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    1. Keeping a blog has forced me to get out and do more things (looking for blog fodder)...because, I too, could easily be a hermit and find things to do around the house. But it's not really good for us to be so isolated, is it. I am happier being around more people even though none are what I'd call a close or even good friend.

      The houses at the top look like they were built with the same kits we are using here and if you look closely they are using the same candies but the houses do look different. But I never would have thought to cut the house in half and resign the basic footprint of the house and using gram crackers for building material the way a guy in my creative writing group is doing. Just goes to show a true artist can always see a different way to use the same materials as their neighbor.

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  13. What's the prize for the gingerbread house contest? That would be the deciding factor for me to enter. And for sure I'd have to customize my decorations.

    I'm not too sure of your Midwestern Town Hunk Theory, Jean. I live in one, and the pickings look pretty slim from here.

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    1. They haven't announced what the prizes will be---there will be three is all I know.

      Don't tell Hallmark about the lack of hunks in your small town. Let them keep their delusion through the holidays, at least. LoL

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  14. I continue to be impressed by all the activity options and entertainment you have available. I'm looking forward to seeing the gingerbread houses!

    My DH rode the ambulance in college, and some of the things they see are pretty hair raising. He also has some hilarious stories of situations college students get themselves into, since they serviced that college area. That said, I'm surprised your neighbor didn't realize those stories aren't for public consumption. Glad you got a safer van for transport!

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    1. She wasn't too smart was she, didn't express a lot of empathy or compassion for the people she picked up.

      This place as almost too much stuff going on. You really have to pick and choose or you get overloaded, exercise classes fall by my wayside when it's a choice between those and a lecture.

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  15. Your place sounds like loads of fun -- but boy, the pressure is on, isn't it? Do you ever get time to do your own thing? It seems like there's always something going on and fun things, too. I like your gingerbread house idea. We did one with the kids last year -- a very simple one. I'm hoping to find a new one for this year!

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    1. I learned around six months of living here that you can't do it all. Between coming down for one meal a day, one or two classes a day there is very little time left to do other stuff. So I pick and choose. One day recently I picked and chose 4 things and that was too much. And now that I'm fitting two visits a week to see my brother, I really have to pay attention to his schedule and mine.

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  16. Can you believe I've never made a gingerbread house? On the other hand, I can turn out decorated Christmas cookies with the best of them. My mother had this set of Aunt Chick's cookie cutters, and I still have them. They're interesting because you press the dough into them, and get a 3-D cookie. She always did about a dozen Santas with coconut beards, raisin eyes, painted red cheeks, and so on. We always put out two of those for Santa on Christmas Eve; the rest were mine. I haven't made any for a couple of years, but this year I think I might, along with the traditional Swedish cookies I always make.

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    1. This is the year to pull out all the stops. After the last couple of years with Covid making us all cut back, people want to celebrate. The cookies you describe sound delightful. I . I don't think I've ever seen a Santa with a coconut beard. We had the tin cookie cutters next to your Aunt Chick's. I still have them and if I could remember where I put them, I'd set them as decorations with my 1950s snow globes.

      Making a gingerbread house is some thing I've twice in recent years and maybe 6-7 times with my mom when I was growing up. I seriously think this one will be my last. Too much candy bought and no one to pass it on to. For example I bought entire bag of stars jellies just to get one star for the top of a tree.

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