Why does March rain surprise us?

IMG_20150427_172305014[1]Facebook, that nosy cousin you never asked to butt into your life, keeps popping up with memories of past posts I might want to share again. Sometimes they’re too embarrassing to share, but the practice got me curious about what I was writing here at Unleashed on other last Mondays in March. Turns out this month’s rainy weather is not unusual at all. Here is a quick trip through those past posts and a few updates. Enjoy.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2010/03/   “Simple gifts” Yep, it rains here in March. In 2017. we have had a horrid winter, with several episodes of snow and ice, but so far the wind has not been as bad as usual. My gutters are gunked up again. Rain is predicted for the next 10 days. But miracle of miracles, the blue hydrangea bushes that I was sure were dead are covered with new leaves. The robins are back, the skunk cabbage is blooming in Thiel Creek, and I saw my first trillium flowers yesterday.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2011/03/ “Thank You, I Think.” Oh, the yin and the yang of this one. I have two amaryllis plants now. Each has leaves about two feet tall. They rarely bloom, but when they do, the bright red flowers are spectacular. What really grabs me reading this is my ingratitude. Jill Baker, who gave me the plant in question, passed away last year. [link to that post]. I miss her music and her no-BS attitude. I also need to show more gratitude to the friends who threw me that surprise birthday party only three weeks before my husband died.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2012/03/ “I Missed the Big Oregon Coast Storm” Why is it that every March we can’t believe winter weather is still happening? Re-reading this post, I’m feeling less put-upon by the continuing rain, but I am tired of soggy shoes, and I’m itching for another trip to San Jose to see my dad. [Turns out I’m getting that trip sooner than I thought. See below.]

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2013/03/  “Hugging the Open Mic in Yachats” Dare I say that old singers don’t retire; they just take their guitars to song circles, jams and open mics in Yachats? Four years later, I am still doing song circles and open mics as well as my church music job. As for paid gigs, not so much. I no longer have the desire to play over loud crowds for a few dollars in tips.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2014/03/ “Lost an Earring, Found a New Beach Hangout” Gosh, I’m in a rut. I’m still playing music at church on Sunday mornings, going to Georgie’s with friends for lunch afterward, and shopping at the J.C. Market. I still have those earrings, and I still do not have pierced ears. I still park at Jumpoff Joe’s occasionally.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2015/03/ “The Dead Husband Thing.” Well, that hasn’t changed much. The other day at lunch, I overheard a woman about my age say “when my husband died . . . .” I wanted to run over and hug her. My people! The dead husband club. I know it sounds crass, but these days I feel like I need to tattoo it on my forehead: “Hey, my husband died and I still miss him. If you still have one, you have no idea how different my life is without a husband.” Okay, I need a bigger forehead for all that. It will be six years next month. Hard to believe. I sound so content in this 2015 post. I have not been feeling that way lately. Grief is like the tides. It ebbs and flows, but it doesn’t ever go away.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2016/03/ “Tucson Festival a Writer’s Dream” I loved last year’s trip to the Tucson Festival of Books and the nonfiction workshop that followed. I loved visiting Fred’s cousin Adrienne and her husband John. I loved the sunshine, the desert, and the new friends I made. I thought about that trip a lot as I was slogging through the rain while this year’s festival came and went without me. Tucson in 2018!

So we’re up to 2017. It’s still raining. The news is still full of President Donald Trump and his crew. Annie’s still sprawled on the love seat in front of the pellet stove. And I’m still in my bathrobe at 10:00 although I’ve been up for hours.

People ask if I’m still writing. If I’m still breathing, I’m still writing.

BREAKING NEWS: My father fell Saturday and broke his leg. I am heading to California to help him. No Wi-Fi at Dad’s house, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post here. Annie will be staying home with dog/house sitter Auntie Jo. Stay tuned. Follow me on Facebook.

The Dead Husband Thing

“My husband passed away.” That’s all I have to say to turn a conversation upside down. Women say, “I’m so sorry.” Men of a certain age take another look at me and say, “Really?”

To be honest, I hate to bring it up. The pity makes me squirm. I find myself gravitating toward older women who take widowhood in stride. You’re eighty-something? Of course your husband is dead. Besides, it has been almost four years now. Fred died the day before Easter in 2011. How long am I supposed to be pitiful? He wouldn’t want that.

Most women my age have living husbands. The husbands are getting gray, bald and jowly and they have various health problems. Maybe their sex life has fizzled. But they’re still alive. Then the wives look at me and think, “Whoa, what if my husband died?” I’m too much of a reminder that it could happen, that it does happen. God knows, if I were 15 years older, most of my friends would be widows.

Alzheimer’s took my husband out with a nine-year descent from beginning to end. Maybe he had it before that. He was always forgetful. By the time someone dies of dementia, you have spent years grieving already. The man you loved is mostly gone. After he dies, you miss him, but it’s a relief to have it finally over with.

Losing a husband is a two-sided loss. You not only lost this person you loved, but you lost your position in the world as a wife. Now you’re this new thing called a widow.

It’s surprising how people react. If I said I was divorced, they would just say, “Oh” and move on. I know; I was divorced for five years before I met Fred. But “widowed” draws a knee-jerk “I’m so sorry,” followed by an awkward moment when nobody knows what to say. Dear friends, It’s perfectly okay to talk about it.

Hey, I’m alive. Having a dead husband sucks, but not every minute of every day. Do I miss having Fred to talk to? Yes. Do I wish he were around when the car breaks down? Definitely. Do I feel bad when I’m the only single person in a room full of couples? So bad. Do I miss snuggling, kissing, and sex? Absolutely. Do I cry sometimes? Do I want to kick things? Do I tell God I would trade anything to have Fred back? You bet.

But then I realize that since he was always a lot older than me, he’d be 77 now and I’d have to go through his dying all over again. Been there, done that, wearing his T-shirts. And his socks and his jackets and his hats.

Here’s the thing. We go on. We eat, sleep, shop, walk the dog, go to church, and watch TV just like we always did, but now we don’t have to worry about doing it on anybody else’s schedule or catering to anybody else’s tastes.

Don’t get me wrong. We had a good marriage, one of the best. But we finished it. We loved each other to the end, we never cheated on each other, never fought about anything that mattered, and did everything we said we were going to do. Till death did us part. Amen. He went to wherever dead people go, and I have gone on to my next chapter.

Will that next chapter include another man? Maybe. I stopped wearing my wedding ring after six months mostly because I was starting to look at guys and wanting them to know I was available. Do I want to become a wife again? I don’t know. The financial fallout from getting married again could be disastrous, and do I really want to deal with another man’s family, including his kids, this late in life? Do I want to become a caregiver again if/when he gets sick? But what if I’m the one who gets sick? Who will take care of me? Sigh.

I love my freedom. I lost 20 pounds after Fred died. Not having to cook elaborate meals to please him meant I could actually stay on a diet for once. So now I feel younger and sexier. I flirt. I get horny. I enjoy dressing up and going out. I also enjoy working when I’m in the mood without the need to quit because somebody’s hungry or bored.

Would I give it all up in a heartbeat if I could have Fred back? I would. But that’s not going to happen, and I may live another 20 or 30 years, so I’m looking ahead, making plans, and thinking about projects I want to do, vacations I want to take, and movies I want to see. I have a bucket list that has nothing to do with Fred. Crass? I don’t think so. He died, but I’m still alive.

Thank you for reading this. May your Easter be filled with blessings.