Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Widow on Christmas Morning

I have often had the feeling in my life that if something was going to go wrong at the most inappropriate time – it would. Sometimes, I came to understand the humour in those uneasy catastrophes. I often found consolation in the fact that if I could survive that – I could survive anything.

Well folks, this blog is the story of my life and dealing with events on my own. This Christmas was no disappointment in that regard. Here goes:

It is Christmas morning and I have my daughter’s family along with their beautiful dog, Sinjin, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, sleeping overnight for several days. If you know your dogs, you will know that a Rhodesian is the size of a small horse.

As all children do, the three kids were restless during the night knowing that Santa was out there somewhere, and they had been up several times since going to bed. Well, here it was 6:30 in the morning and Sinjin (with his noisy long nails) is clicking up and down the wood floor outside of the bedrooms wanting out. I quickly rose from my bed trying to save the last few precious minutes of sleep for everyone as I hurried downstairs past all of the sleeping children following an anxious Sinjin with my own 5 month old lab puppy and two kittens in hot pursuit.

I opened the patio door in the kitchen and Sinjin with my pup, Mikki, went running outside in the new dusting of snow that had fallen in the night. It was the perfect Christmas morning scene – all moon-lit and serene. I returned to my Keurig and brewed my wonderful Italian Blend for my first cup of coffee – relaxed like you would not believe until I realized that the dogs had not returned to the door – and with the temperature at minus 11 degrees I quickly became curious and walked out onto the deck. Sure enough, someone had opened the gate onto the park and the dogs had disappeared. Panic struck. The coffee would have to wait – Sinjin would not be lost on my watch.

I called out to the dogs and my pup came back – into the house she went. I called Sinjin and heard some barking from the far corner of the greenspace behind our block of homes. Immediately, I sprang into action – no time for boots or a coat. Dressed in my red Christmas pyjamas, my red matching slippers and my red housecoat, I took off through the open gate with my trusty Costco flashlight into the open park, holding my housecoat up out of the snow and running in the direction of the barks. About a half kilometre away and around the corner of my neighbour’s house, having yelled “Sinjin” about a dozen times, I caught sight of him about another half kilometre in the distance. Luckily for me, when he saw me he came running and actually beat me home as I raced behind him in my red Christmas morning outfit. I am sure I must have looked like a crazed Mrs. Claus. I hope I did not wake anyone up on this “perfect Christmas morning” but I certainly was dressed for the occasion.

As far as I know, there were no witnesses to this event and that is probably for the best. I just shook my head and was grateful things turned out as well as they did. Who knew I would have my own Christmas adventure this year. A two kilometre run before breakfast in my slippers at minus eleven was just what I needed…..NOT!

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Transitioning to “New”

Since this site is in place to question and recognize the “difference” that exists between being a “wife” and being a “Widow” and making the transition from one to the other, I am going to make some observations about this last year as it has just ended with Christmas.

Firstly – All year long, you just do not eat out like you used to. It is nobody’s fault, you just don’t have that “date-like” atmosphere when you dress for a restaurant dinner, or when you appear and your mate tells you how great you look. At the restaurant, you sit next to an empty chair since all restaurants seem to be stuck on increments of two and that makes you want your mate back – if only to be in that chair. You feel like an “extra”, a “left-over” if you will. Your friends who ask you out may ask you to meet them at the restaurant which completely cuts out a drink with dinner and it also brings to mind that thing you no long have – a driver.

Secondly – In getting ready for the Christmas celebration, you no longer have to worry just about the food and decorations – you have to actually set up the decorations, retrieve the extra planks for all the tables, set up the time delayed sockets for light sets, and hoist high chairs, play pens, portable beds and chairs up various sets of steps – usually with them balanced precariously over your head. Along with the maintenance for having house guests, you don’t just get out fresh towels and linens, you now change light bulbs, check the sump pump when you hear that ominous sound of dripping water in your sump hole on the lower level, and reset the circuit breaker which, of course, blew on Christmas Eve.

Thirdly – You are the only one to empty the garbage, break up cardboard for the recycling, return the empties to the Beer Store, fill and empty the dishwasher, strain the cat litter and scoop the poop in the back yard. These jobs used to be done by the partner in your life – especially when you were tired and he knew it.

Fourthly – You love your Christmas decorations and they really are beautiful, but were they ever difficult to put up and, frankly, they didn’t provide the feelings of overwhelming joy that you have felt in the past. OK, they make your place look like it always did – but it is not what it was and neither are you or the people who will join you for Christmas. Making the place “look” like it used to doesn’t necessarily make it “feel” like it used to. I think that is the most important thing that I learned this year – I just can’t create that life over again. What was then – will simply be no more. Giving up that dream of my “first choice” life was a very difficult step to take – a brutal realization.

Fifth – I decided today that next Christmas is going to be totally different. I don’t know what that will look like or where I will be (although I have an idea) – but it will have to be a brand new invention – for better or for worse.

Not Alone After All

In my last story, I sang a sad song about being sick and totally alone. I admit, I have wondered from time to time what would happen if I just did not emerge from my house one day. Would anyone notice?

Well, the votes are in and halleluia – yes – someone would notice.

My doubts about the caring of my fellow street dwellers are now over – at least for this week.

I should explain that I have always been able to keep up appearances since my husband’s death. I mow the lawn and I blow the snow – right on schedule. No one would know, by the looks of my house inside or out that anyone had died here. It takes a lot of effort, but I have really put out the power to keep things looking “normal”.

Well, I came down with the flu on Friday and a huge snow storm hit on Saturday. I looked out at the drifts of snow across my front walk and driveway and I cursed the fact that this would be the first time since Jim died that I would not be able to keep up. I reversed my direction and went back to bed – hiding under the covers with cold hands, icy feet and chills that made my teeth chatter. What would it matter when the hearse came anyway…..

When I woke up in the afternoon, I heard the unmistakable sound of a shovel in my driveway. My new neighbour had already shoveled out my driveway and was working on my sidewalk. I raced to the front door to thank him with what remained of my voice and he said it was nothing. He will never know how much that meant to me.

I was not alone after all.

Alone and Getting Aloner

In this period of recovery, I have just been required to get to another level of independence. For the first time since living alone, with all of my kids in other cities, I am sick. As I tried to rise from bed yesterday, I became light-headed and quite dizzy. Nausea filled my whole body and I rushed, as well as I could, to the washroom. I was definitely sick – all over – everything hurt – even my skin. Chest full of congestion and nauseous like I could not believe. My puppy and my kittens followed me dutifully from toilet to bed and bed to toilet. What a confusing morning for them.

I rallied enough power to make it to the kitchen and do the most important thing of the day – feed the pets. Alas, some semblance of normalcy for my animal friends. I could see that their confidence in me was recovering. I, however, quickly removed myself to the nearest couch and slept for a couple of hours. I felt better when I woke up – not much – but I was at least functioning.

This gave me pause to wonder what single people do…I was spoiled all of those years when I was sick. My husband would bring me my tea in my chair, he would grab me some toast or an afghan, he would always feel my head and tell me I didn’t have a fever and would likely live. We would always chuckle and I would know that he was there to help if I needed it.

Now that I am alone, I have visions of my long dead body being discovered by police after having been expired for weeks. Perhaps a response to an odour emanating from my house.

As it is, I will take my lesson from my husband who said I would live and I will give myself some tender loving care – as much as I can. I know I am alone and I know I have felt even more alone with this flu that has taken hold of me – but my resolve is firm – I will get through this too.

Never Never Land

In this bounce again world, at this busy Christmas time, I am slowing down enough today to reconsider…to reconnoiter as it were…to contemplate…to commiserate. I am exhausted from visiting, shopping, partying, eating too much and talking too much.

My mind has been mercifully busy in this season of love and family celebration – that season that can hurt so much if you let it – if you relinquish your resolve to keeping bad memories from treading on your thoughts and pulling down your wonder of the Christmas celebration.

Yes, there is a great one missing from our midst, but, oh my, there are great and wonderful gifts here with us. Beautiful boys and girls that are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandsons and granddaughters.

You know, I always thought it was a very phoney thing in movies to see a character look back on a fellow character through little silent vignettes of past events – you know – the dancing wife, the smiling husband, the child running across a flower-covered field. Well, I am here to tell you that after having lost my husband a year ago, I am beginning to experience those crazy moments of nostalgia – the smile, the hands grasping a tool, the movement of his special swagger – all in living colour, all silent, but all very powerful. He is here somehow, but absent as in a film itself. An unreal entity, a moving picture in a book. All silent and all conjured by me. At first, I enjoy the inner visions of him – as real as they seem – but then they begin to sting in the reality that these are merely memories and those things are lost forever. The sadness wells up to the point of tears and I mourn once again for a short time.
I think it might be best if I avoid these visions for a while and fill my days with the joys that are all around me. I will, I think, concentrate on the busyness of the season, the love of my family, the responsibility of these pets I have adopted this year – all of this gives some kind of meaning to my life. I don’t just want to fill the time, endure the hours, make the best of things – I want, genuinely to enjoy every minute.
It is getting easier to concentrate on tasks and get things done. I am becoming hardened to the reality of his absence.
I will, once again visit Never Never Land, but it will have to be on my terms.