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, January 28, 2023

First Full week in Respite Care

A huge black face just inches in front of mine woke me from a nap here Respite Care. It was the face of a massive dog who belongs to one of the workers.  The management allows staff to bring well behaved dogs to work with them. The dog is a hi-breed cross between a Bernese mountain dog, a standard poodle and I think a black lab. Her name is Carol and she's only one year old and an expert at checking out smells around the room while her owner does my bidding. At the end of her shift Carol's mom makes the rounds to all the dog-friendly rooms before going home so we inmates can say good night to the lovable, goofy dog who has quite the wardrobe. 

Turns out respite care in the continuing care complex is really just a glorified room in assistance living only with occupational therapy and physical therapy brought in with a goal of getting me back in my own apartment. They originally said I'd be here 4-6 weeks but it's looking more like 2 or 3---fingers crossed---before l'll be able to meet the criteria that I have to meet. That involves being able to get in and out of bed by myself which is the hardest thing so far with my broken ribs but I'm doing it. And I need to be able to do all my own bathroom issues by myself which I'm already there. The physical therapist says I'm 95% there in terms of walking safely. She's already made an appointment with my niece to take me over to my apartment to evaluate what changes I'll need there. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to get a new mattress or box springs to lower my bed.

I thought while I'm here I might as well put on my investigative reporter hat and figure out what makes assisted living livable for those who have to stay. That's how I found myself sitting in a circle of 12 other residences singing 'When the Saints Come Marching Home' while stampimg my feet up and down on the floor and clapping my hands and doing all the others stuff that you might expect a music therapist to be leading residences to do in places like this. I've seen three of the musical therapists who work for the CCC and they are good musicians and singers. They've found a way to use their talents for good...and probably a more stable income than they'd get singing in bars. Some rich guy or organization provides a grant for their wages. I'm not sure but I suspect grant writing is a big deal around a continuing care complex that's a non-profit. I know they got grants to get a defibrillator over in one of the buildings and a superior germ/air cleaner for public spaces that cost over twenty grand.

As I sat in that circle while the young woman sang and played a guitar, though, I couldn't help wondering how the heck I got here and so suddenly.  If someone told me I was gonna be staying here for the rest of my life with only 4 walls to stare at for most of the day I'd probably be just as cantankerous as my brother has been from time to time. I talked to a woman who has been here for 7 months and I asked her if it was a hard adjustment and she said, "No. I was ready to come but that doesn't mean it wasn't painful. I still had to leave a lifetime of memories behind in my house. But I was no longer safe there and I knew it." My brother with his short-term memory issues doesn't remember that he wasn't safe at home, so acceptance for him, rolls like waves out at sea---sometimes angry, sometimes calm. And I imagine sometimes he's also fearful, I know I've been flirting with that particular F word with the sudden loss of control in my life and having to depend on the good graces of others.

Not everyone there is as articulate as the woman I talked to up above. At lunch I sat at a table with 3 others and they were pleasant and curious about the new kid on the block. But when I asked what others did before retiring---a common ice breaker in independent living---none of them could come up with the answers. I felt really bad that I asked. But there was a sisterhood there for sure, of residents looking out for each other other. Making sure the ones who couldn't speak very loud but needed the attention of an aid got that attention, of making sure other people's walkers were parked out of the way and different little things that are very sweet moments. That tells me that no matter what stage of life we're in we're going to find humanity and compassion. Looking For the sweet moments in life has proven to be a little easier New Years resolution than I thought it would be.

I'll end this post with story I can't wait to tell everyone back at independent living. They have a shower room here where they take you twice a week to get hosed down like a poodle at a doggie foo-foo spa. I was in there tonight standing naked as The day I was born when the door opened and in walks a woman who I knew from independent living. It was 9:30 PM and she was looking for the exercise class that meets at 9:30 AM. Thankfully She didn't even seem to notice that I was naked because she couldn't believe she had to go back to bed again. "I had my breakfast and everything!" she said.  "That was your bedtime snack," the shower attending replied. So many people have seen me naked since Friday the  thirteenth when I fell that it didn't even freak me out to be having that conversation. I just told myself it was going to make good blog fodder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

After The Trauma Dust Settles

After moving Into Respite Care here at the continuing care complex my brother still lives next door. But I'm staying on the other side of him now than I did before the move. I had my 1st telephone call with him since my accident 10 days ago. (My niece recorded a video of me while I was in the hospital to show him but this was different.) And it ended with one of those sweet kind of moments that I said I was going to look for in my new year's resolution. We talked about how bored he was and how I understand now how It is to wait for a call or visit from someone from the outside world.  It's an isolating feeling when a slow-to-act corporation is in charge of you. And no matter how good your caregivers are it's still not family. He was living in real time right then instead of the Kind of place your brain makes up similar to a rem cycle dream and you're not able to tell it from reality. So I told him I loved him for the 1st time in so long I Can't recall if I've ever said it to him. And he told me "I love my baby sister too". Those Words took me right back to early childhood when he looked out for me a lot. A dark chocolate sweet moment for sure.

I ate in the main dining room today for the 1st time since I've been here and met Some of my hall mates who I sincerely hope will only be temporary neighbors. I feel like a spy because I'm going to have information to report to neighbors from independent living. Several have called wanting to visit, and I put them off until the middle of next week. I'm not up to that yet but they're mostly anxious to see the inside of this building and not so much to visit me---I'm guessing. When my Brother moved into memory care I had a woman ask if she could come with me when I visited him so she could see the inside of the place. I didn't bring her but that mindset is out there and  I can understand the curiosity,---we're all gonna end up here someday. The luck at the draw doesn't allow us all to die peacefully in our sleep. 

But here's a Tip for anybody looking for a CCC to move to: ask to see inside their memory care and their assisted living, hospice building and their respite care before you  put money down. I can't remember any of my neighbors in the independent living mentioning ever having done that. We were all too interested in what our surfaces and bells and whistles would look like in independent living as if none of us would ever fall down and need the other half of what we're paying so high for. I did research their reputation, BBB and health department reports, and everything that could be checked online but that was all I did.

It still bugs the heck out of me to post on my Kindle with all the mistakes it makes along with the ones that I make. But I'm totally resisting the idea of bringing my computer down here because I don't want to MOVE IN even if the inconvenience of not having it will last for weeks. Also, if I ghost you don't assume the worst, my kindle was acting up even before the fall and I need to order another before it pukes completely out and I loss my connect to the outside world. And I can't order a new one without my passwords. Until I can get one of my niece's to retrieve my passwords that can't happened until one of my niece's comes to town. I don't store them in my Kindle in case it grows legs or get lost. Pain level 4/5 without controlled drugs and 2/3 in the daytime. Improvement!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Pain Sucks and Ice Packs are Miracles

I left the Pain City Hospital after being there for 6 days in a whirlwind after waiting all day to find out if they were gonna release me. The anesthesiologist  said 'I think you deserve another day' but he got voted off the island. He probably felt bad because the line that was feeding me morphine in between my broken ribs got accidentally disconnected for several hours and he's the one who put it in. He's also the guy who made me laugh by calling my breast 'it'. (See my my last post.)

I arrived home around 7:00 PM. Home being defined as the Respice  Care Section of the continuing care complex where I live in Independent living. I'm voice typing on my Kindle and it seems to want to capitalize Words at random and I've already learned that when you have your TV on it picks up random sentences to type, like in the middle of The paragraph up above it inserted 'I love you'. I do love you all who read my blog but it's hard enough to compose something to write  while taking drugs and Yelling every so often when I get a jab of pain. Yes, I'm that kind of a pain person who lets everybody in the room know. So if you're on the Nazi Punctuation Enforcement Squad please cut me a break Explanation mark Stupid voice typing.

 And do I have stories to tell. Like shopping On amazon for my very 1st box of adult diapers ---and hopefully my last box---with an OP. It Reminded me of the time my mother made me go to the Store and buy my first pads for my first period. You'd think after all these years I wouldn't have anything to get embarrassed about but The experience of buying something I didn't want to buy, however, had me hearing my mother saying "No, I'm not going to buy them for you. This is going to be something you're gonna have to do for many years." She wouldn't even let me out of the dance recital we were on our way to and I was dancing in. "You're not sick you're just menstruating."

Naive me, I thought when you went from one part of a continuing care campus to another everything would be provided and you wouldn't have to ask your family to do anything. But that turns out not to be true. All your personal things like shampoo and fingernail files and cell phones and who knows what else I'll need over the next few weeks I'll need my nieces to retrieve. They've been super-stars and done unexpected things for me. Like one waited hours with me in ER and other took me home from the hospital and got me settled in. I tried to think of what I've done to deserve them in my life like this but I can't come up with anything other than just Laugh with them a lot when they were young, played with them back then and now be their sounding board as adults. 

Tomorrow I start working with the physical therapist and occupational therapist doing stuff that I used to teach my husband to do After his stroke. If you picked up a sarcastic tone to my typing You are not mistaken. But I will do my best and let them think I'm a fast learner and they are good teachers. 

See You when I see you. Hopefully Wednesdays and Saturdays as before but maybe With much shorter posts, maybe longer who knows. Just know that the comment section is gonna be different with me just chiming in occasionally because I really am exhausted from pain and pills. Stay tuned. I might murder one of the condescending night shift workers. At the hospital everyone who came into the room would ask what's my birthday and  what's my pain level. Here in respite care everyone who enters the room says, " I'm so sorry I didn't get here faster blah blah blah." I want to blurt out,  "Cut the crap and just admit you're short staffed. But we're in the honeymoon stage here so I'm being nice and sweet. And truly 98% of the aids are great.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Don't Make me Laugh!

 It's 6:00 AM and the nurses are getting ready for a shift change. I must say the nurses here at the hospital are so compasionate, young and professional and they don't seem to mind doing the worst jobs. I'm typing on my Kindle with my voice, waiting for a pain pill to kick in because that's what you do when you've got broken ribs and hoping some one comes along with the good drugs. I'm starting this post on Sunday because I think it'll probably take me until Wednesday to get it ready for publication. 

So you are probably wondering how I broke my arm and auto type just typed 'arm' instead of ribs. This is going to be so fun, but I need the distraction other wise I'll just lay  here and start feeling sorry for myself. The night shift just offered me Morphine but I turned it down hoping  the muscle relaxer will kick in soon. Anyway back to how I fell. I got out of a chair to answer the phone hurrying too much for an 81 year old woman who should have known better. Next thing I knew I was face down on the floor, the impact totally on my chest knocking the wind right out of me. I  did the assessment safety classes for old people teach you to do and I realized that I wouldn't be able to  get up by my self so I used the  button I 've worn around my neck for 11 years---1st time ever. Like magic four guys from fire department were here in 15 minute along with our Security guard so they didn't have to break the door down. 

The fire department guys didn't even give me a choice about going to the hospital. While waiting for the ambulance to come those four guys had  me on my feet in a split second. And two of them walked to the bathroom because I REALLY had to pee. I'm not a small person but you would have thought I was by how quickly they made that happen. In the ambulance people kept asking me questions about what drugs  I take, what Insurance I have, and other stuff I don't commit to memory  and I was starting to getting mad about it because I have the ICE app on my phone listing all info but they wouldn't even look at it. I spent so much putting that info on my phone and for what? But getting mad was starting to make me snarly which was making me breathe deeper which was making me hurt more. So I nipped it in the bud.

I did have something funny to laugh at while here. The young anesthesiologist who did the nerve block kept calling my breast 'it' in an embarrassed way when he wanted his assistant to reposition my breast and that struck me really funny. I asked if 'it' was a medical term for breast. He had This big long needle ready to go in between my 6 to 7th rib to block the nerves and the three of us were laughing too hard to do it. Of course laughing really hurt so I was the 1st to stop laughing and we got the job done. 

There is no word count  feature on my Kindle so I don't know if this post is anywhere  near the 800-1,000 words that I like to do. But I'm gonna end it anyway. I'm not sure if I'll be able to answer comments individually. They are starting a Morphine drip soon. But I will try to weigh in  with an update on Wednesday when the post goes live and I'll do it with a comment or two. 

Thanks to all you who are following my blog and any comments made. I probably won't be able To reply individually but I will use these comments to update my situation a time or two. (Pain level on the drip in: 8.)

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Eleven Years and Still Counting

When my brother was four or five years old, my mom took us downtown and during the course of our shopping trip the three of us got on a crowded elevator. My brother was never a shy or coy kid and when he had a question to ask he’d belted it out and that day, in between floors, he was curious. “Momma,” he said, pointing to another person on the elevator, “Why doesn’t that lady wash her face?” My mom was mortified but the black lady laughed. It was the 1940s and this anecdote speaks volumes about the times and the fact that a kid from the suburbs could be almost old enough for kindergarten before seeing his very first non-white person.

My second memorable elevator ride was in the Empire State Building---memorable because it was the setting for a full-blown panic attack. Not my first, but the worst one of my entire life. It was in the 1950s, a time when I was in love with art deco architecture and I had been looking forward to this trip to the public observatory at the top. Unfortunately, once I got up there I found out that I had no more love of heights than I did for being locked inside a “windowless box” grinding and groaning its way to the top of that beautiful building.

Twenty-some years later, when Don and I was in Chicago about to get on the elevator at the Sears Tower, I could feel another major panic attack coming on so I made an excuse and refused to get in. My ancestor, Elisha Otis, founder of the Otis Elevator Company, was probably rolling over in his grave because of my behavior. But Don had a different reaction because as it turned out that elevator---which he got on to but I didn’t---got stuck between floors and it took a half hour to free him and the other passengers. When he finally got off he was in awe of me, thinking that I was clairvoyant and saw that event coming. I never corrected that impression. We were newly in love and I wasn’t about to start punching gem stones out of my princess crown.

It was shortly after Don’s stroke in 2000 when we had the next memorial ride on an elevator. Don was being transferred from one facility to another and the ambulance-cab driver in charge of transferring Don didn’t get his wheelchair far enough into an elevator and the door shut on his toes. The elevator car moved several feet while Don’s foot was going upward before the driver realized what she’d done and pushed the emergency stop button. Then it took awhile for us to get Don’s toes freed from the rubber door seals because the door wouldn’t open in between floors.

My last memorable elevator experience happened at the Christian college where Don was taking speech therapy classes. He’d spent the morning trying to teach himself how to swear; specifically to say “Jesus Christ!” to someone who’d cut me off in traffic only it kept coming out as “Jesus Crust.” He knew it sounded wrong but he couldn’t figure out how to say it correctly. Don also rolled the words ‘Jesus Cuss’ around on his tongue a few times and finally went back to ‘Jesus Crust’ all the while giving me ‘The Look’ that said, “Help me out here, woman!”

“Don’t look at me, Buddy-Boy,” I told him. “I’m not helping you learn how to swear.”

Finally, the conversation was all but forgotten until we were in communications building and was waiting for the slowest elevator on the face of the planet when I remarked: “Boy, is this elevator slow.”

“Jesse Crush!” he swore in front of a hall full of students and a few professors.

This January marks eleven years since Don passed and even after all this time I still miss his sense of humor, the way he could make me laugh even after he lost his speech. I miss his looking at me like I still have a few rubies left in my princess crown. He was my best friend, my sounding board for 42 year and that turns everything I do in the January days leading up to the 18th into a trip down Memory Lane including a simple ride on an elevator.   ©

 

Note: if you got deja vu reading this that means you've been poking around in my archives. I originally wrote all but the last paragraph shortly after Don died. I ran out of time or desire to write something new this week. That switch will flip after the 18th has passed, I'm sure.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Art and Business of Giving

 


I’m having a hard time getting back into a post-holiday routine. I did manage to go to a lecture on the continuum care campus where I live. Our TV channel that advertises what is happening each day billed the lecture like this: “Time, Talent, Treasures...This is the history of philanthropy in (our city). We are a success story of ordinary citizens and courageous leaders who never stop believing in our community and our future. From our earliest settlers in the nineteenth century until present time, our city has been blessed with a spirit of generosity in vision and action.” I wasn’t particularly interested in going because I’ve heard the speaker more times than I can count when I was a member of the senior hall where I used to live. But I went because it was Monday and I needed human contact after spending the weekend in self-imposed isolation. Sunday I never even got dressed and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it because I did get the laundry done and I
baked a loaf of poppy-seed bread. Don’t get excited about the bread. It came from a box and I only mixed it up because I had two eggs that I needed to used or risk letting them spoil. Yes, I had them that long.

Surprisingly I came out of the lecture without the cynicism I went into it with. When did I get that way? When did I start letting cynicism cling to my coattails? (And note to self: people don’t wear coattails anymore.) The young woman who gave the lecture is just trying to make a living by giving lectures and walking tours around our city and as I sat there watching her enthusiasm I decided that I’m a wee bit jealous. She’s created a one-of-a-kind career for herself and she’s young and thin and people like her. Me, I’m old and fat and probably an acquired taste and I would have loved being the only person in the city known for doing such and such---anything short of murder and mayhem.

As for the philanthropists she talk about they were the usual suspects…the people who built the hospitals, the library, the art museum. The people who started the Salvation Army and funded the zoo. If we had enough money, we too, could buy our way into the history books. Haven’t most of us dreamed about what we’d do if we won one of the Mega Million lotto jackpots in the news recently? But what struck me the most about our local philanthropists is they didn’t start with silver spoons in their mouths and none of them made their money off the backs of poor, working immigrants that way the titans of railroads, shipping and steel did in the 1800s. The same titans who ended up being known for their philanthropy like Andrew Carnegie. Does anyone even remember how he made his money before he gave 90% of it away to do things like building the Hague Palace of Peace and libraries, universities and colleges all over the world? In a nutshell, he got rich slashing the wages of the U.S. steel workers to undercut steel prices coming from other countries and ended up with 350 million dollars excess in profits to give away in his last 18 years of life, which would be roughly six billion dollars in the 2020s.

After the lecture I walked over to the Memory Care building next door to visit my brother and I brought him some more ink pens. A few weeks ago I bought him a memory jogging guest book for people with dementia and I attached an ink pen to the book with a ribbon. Ever since then when ever I’d visit I’d find that ribbon and pen just about every where but attached to the guest book even though there were other ink pens around. This day I found it attached to his telephone. So far, I’ve brought six ink pens to his room but he only seems to use the one attached to the guest book. I'm not sure if it's a dementia thing or a guy thing. My husband used to have a large collection of ink pens---numbered in the hundreds---but he’d do the same thing of zeroing in on one pen he like using and heaven help the person who used Don’s favorite pen and didn’t put it back on his desk. I preferred using mechanic pencils---still do---so it wasn’t much of a problem for me to leave his pen alone. When I moved here I thought I had brought enough ink pens that I’d never have to buy another as long as I live, but guess what went on my shopping list this week. My brother deserves new ones that you can tell at a glance if they are going to run out of ink.

The next day was our monthly Resident’s Dialogue Meeting otherwise known as Bitch and Pitch Meetings where the same old, same old is usually on the agenda. Except this day the CEO announced that he’s leaving that job to be a fund raiser for our parent company. He’ll be wining and dining the rich folk all over the place trying get them to give corporate donations to keep the lights burning in my little corner of the world. When our sister campus first opened in 1906 it had ten residents who were all retired ministers. Now, our two campus’ have over 450 residents and the single biggest donation to our CCC came from a farmer who donated six million dollars. A farmer! And the moral of that little story is to never underestimate a guy wearing bib overalls and a John Deere baseball hat. ©

Saturday, January 7, 2023

From Wordle to Weighing in to Dementia


Google came out with its list of the most searched words for 2022 and Wordle came in first. As usual I’m running behind the eight ball because it took that list for me to finally jump on the band wagon and try playing the New York Time’s daily word game, Wordle. Oh look at me, I just used not one but two  worn out metaphors in the same sentence. “Behind the eight ball” is urban speak for “at a disadvantage” which is where I thought my creative, dyslexia driven spelling would put me if I followed the crowd and start doing what everyone else has been raving about doing for this past year.

Hooked that’s what I am now after a week of playing it every day. I’ve even learned how to cheat by playing as a guest on my Kindle and playing with an account on the Times site on my computer. That gives me double the guesses to solve the puzzle. After a few days of playing the game I found another site where you can play Wordle unlimited times every day. And the another 'cheat site' that is for people who play Scrabble but it’s godsend for solving Wordle. Usually I’m able to get the correct word on the third try using that WordTips site and sometimes by the fifth try not cheating at all. I don’t know if working Wordle will help me improve my spelling skills but it can’t hurt. At my age, any brain exercise I get is a good thing.

I’m not bragging when I say this but I think I do plenty of exercise for my brain. I read and discuss books with others, I play solitary and spider every day. I play Mahjong once a week. I write nearly every day and spend time on the computer with all the issues that entails when things go wrong. I don’t depend on a calculator to do the math that comes with living a normal life. 

But when it comes to the other kind of exercise---the kind that requires us to move our bodies---I’m a dismal failure. And I have no excuse. I have a fully equipped workout room steps away from my apartment door and all kinds of free classes I could be working into my weekly schedule. If I’d seriously try to become a morning person I could make it to the cardio boxing, cardio drumming, sit and stretch or balance classes at the crack of too-damn-early. I did try them all when I first moved in but the afternoon Tai Chi is the only class I make it to, at least on an inconsistent basis. Don't even mention afternoon line dancing. I trip over my own feet too often to try that again---did a class and loved it in my forties.

But I’m a creature of habit if nothing else and it’s the beginning of January so I’ll bet you know where this is going. Yup, since I was in my early teens I’ve started a diet and exercise plan in the new year that will no doubt peter out by the end of February. And boy, do I ever need it this year! The holidays with all the extra foods and drinks around here put ten pounds on me since Thanksgiving and I need to get that back off before I outgrow my clothes. My first indication that I would honor this time tested tradition of all fatty-fatty-two-by-fours was when I found my jumping on the rowing machine across the hall every day. We have a TV in there so it’s been surprisingly easy to pop in there on the way home from going to the main building and I've been watching the 2023 version of Ground Hog Day, starring Kevin McCarthy trying to get enough votes to be the Speaker of the House.

I’ve also started eating lunch AND dinner again. I have/had a bad habit of going all day long without eating then from dinner on I’d make up for lost time, eating too many calories close to bedtime. I’m ordering soup for lunch and salads for dinner and I’ve already lost my first two pounds of my ten pound goal. If you saw my photo on the Christmas post you know I have far more than ten pounds to lose but right now I just want my clothes not to feel so tight.

New topic: One of my readers cautioned me not to describe my trips down to visit the Memory Care building out of respect for the residents and their families and it was easy enough to omit my infrequent interactions down there before my brother moved in. But I'm visiting several times a week now which makes it a bigger part of my life so from time to time I will be including a few of those experiences in my blog. Like today. My brother didn’t think his phone was working so I used my cell to call his landline. After he answered and we exchanged greetings I said, “Your phone is working so let's hang up now.”

“Don’t do that!” he said, “I want to talk to you.”

“I’m right here in the room with you,” I replied. “What do you want to talk to me about?”

So we had a good five minute conversation, all the time with me standing on the other side of the room and him talking into the phone.” It was crazy and funny and makes me smile every time I think about it. It's also a perfect example of the type of things I’m looking for every day to fulfill my New Year’s Resolution of finding the sweet moments in every day. My brother and I laughed a lot that day and the phone conversation was a sweet take-away.

Visiting a memory care aka dementia ward can make you sad but a visit can also make you feel good about helping someone touch bases with pieces of who they used to be. My brother and I have had some good conversations based on what I call my Show & Tells---objects, photos or readings that I bring with me. Even without a Show & Tell just helping a loved one do things like find their glasses or work their phone is a huge deal for someone who lives a small life in dementia care. ©

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Trouble Here in River City


Since October I’ve been having dinner once a week with a group of women at what we’ve been calling the Liberal Ladies Table. We started with four of us and last week we were up to nine. It’s very low key and what we talk about at the Liberal Ladies Table stays at the table. And the table they seat us at is back in a corner of the restaurant where voices don’t carry. In other words, we don’t flaunt it or make a big deal out of. However, this week a women who lives in our independent living apartment complex ambushed us as we were waiting by the fireplace for our reservation time to tell us that what we’re doing is wrong. She thinks if we want to talk about politics we should meet in our apartments. She just learned about the group and now she says she feels uncomfortable around us! “And I’m not the only one,” she claimed. She wanted to know how we get people into our group and acted like it was a clandestine thing where we badger people in dark hallways until they tell us which political party they support. “No one living here should know each other’s political leanings!” she told scolded our group.

We all sat there, getting reprimanded and lectured without us saying much back. We were in shock at how angry she was. One woman did said, “We spend very little time talking about politics, we talk about other things as well.” Another added, “We eat together because we’re friends and it’s only once a week!” I wanted to spat out, “So much for free speech!” but I didn’t because that would have escalated her anger. But when she asked if we really feel the need to talk about politics at all?“ I did reply, “Yes because current events is important and every time someone brings something up in the news around here it quickly gets shut down.” 

I don’t get it, I really don’t. This woman is a good Catholic who wanted to be a nun. Goes to church several times a week. She’s a person who is always organizing extra social activities around here. She’s in line dancing class with 5-6 of the Liberal Ladies and until now they seemed to have fun together. They even put on shows at the other buildings on this and our sister campus. In other words she’s social and fun. While she’s doesn’t talk in depth about anything it’s been pretty easy to guess that she’s a bit naive as is her older sister who I really like. I can tease the sister and she can give it right back. The sister one time heard another women here say that she is an atheist and the sister told a group at lunch, “After she said that I had nightmares about burning up in hell.” I’m still scratching my head over how an acquaintance's view on God could upset you as much as it did her.

 Our resident atheist (aka Ms Social Worker) has made a lot of people distance themselves from her because she’ll freely tell anyone that she is one. She once said that she’s had to listen to church talk her entire life and she’s tired of hiding. The atheist is part of our Liberal Ladies group and maybe Ms. Zip-Your-Lips is painting us all with the same broad brush? Maybe that’s why she was so angry? One time when the atheist was being discussed Ms. Zip-Your-Lips remarked, “Why would anyone say they don’t believe in God?” Duh, isn’t it a clear enough statement? I thought but I didn’t say, If a person doesn’t believe, they don’t believe. I consider myself an agnostic but I’d never voice that around here and the number one reason for that is that I knowingly bought into a faith based, non profit campus and while there was no litmus test to get in I don’t think it’s right to purposely (or accidentally) agitate others on the topic of religion when I’m benefiting from the campus’ non-profit status.

I've talked to a couple of the others in Liberal Ladies group since 'the lecture' and we feel the same way----conflicted. On one hand we think she owns us an apology and on the other hand we want her to help us understand why she’s so offended. Has the word "liberal" become a dirty word? To tell us she feels uncomfortable around us after learning our politician leanings blows my mind. She’s judging us to be toxic or like we’ve suddenly changed our personalities since she learned we’re liberal leaning and we’re no long fit to associate with. I just don't get it! Every day we co-mingle with ultra-conservatives here---even like most of them---who don't always keep their views to themselves, they even eat together once or twice a week and have been a lot longer than we liberals. I'd love to ask Ms Zip-Your-Lips if she gave them the same lecture. But I won't because our group decided to lower the temperature, not make anymore waves.

Since this happened a tenth woman asked to join our group. However, our group will never be the same. For one thing, we agreed to stop calling it the Liberal Ladies Table. While I understand the decision, the damage is already done so what it the point? It feels like we're walking around with a big red 'L' painted on our foreheads, wondering who are the others who agree with her. And two, because our size has outgrown the table spaces available the ones in charge of making our reservations decided to break us up into three tables and rotate each week who sits with who. In other words she'd driven us to hiding in plain sight. My reaction to hearing that decision was, "Sadly, this will be the beginning of the end," and I was assured, "We won't let that happen." Time will tell... ©