Wednesday, 24 August 2011


My new house wouldn’t be ready for a month or two and my present house had closed. I had many offers and decided to stay with my youngest sister. She would take me and my animals, bless her heart. Shortly after the COWS left, I crammed my jeep with precious items: my husband’s ashes, my 140 pound dog, two snarling cats, my best scissors, my sharpest knife, important papers and far too many clothes. I gave my birds to my daughter, (it was bad enough traveling with the animals I had.) I went from room to room saying goodbye to the memories. I cried in the den where I held my dying husband in my arms. Somehow I knew that this was the right thing to do for me.
I drove away, feeling a little bit like a gypsy. It was a little scary but also freeing to be leaving everything behind me. It was a four hour journey with a couple of dog stops and I felt the beginning heartbeat of a new adventure.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Cows

The house was  ready for sale. It was empowering to de-clutter, clean, paint and repair things. I had a moment of sheer pleasure using oil paint on the front door. It was creamy and thick and flowed beautifully. I looked around for something else to paint. At some point in my painting, I lit a candle in the living room and dining room to diffuse smells. The candle was faulty, covered the rooms in black soot and creepy cobwebs. People were due to look at the house in 30 minutes.
Remember I said I was resilient?
I called the insurance company. They took away my furniture and stuff and totally cleaned the rooms. The people bought the house and chose their own paint colour (insurance company had it painted too.) Since the room was empty and all the furniture was in storage to be cleaned, I was able to rent little tables and host a small wedding reception for a family member. (If the Lord gives you lemons...make lemonade.)
Now the cows. I wanted to save money at this point and decided I would pack and move myself. This involved the use of C.O.W.S. Containers On wheels. These are huge, box-car like things that are of course painted to look like cows. Big, black and white cows with faces, udders, the whole bit.  Men, (wranglers or cowboys) pulled them up and left them in my driveway for me to fill. I had a whole herd. Do you know how many jokes and puns you can make up about cows in your driveway? Filling them up with all my possessions and watching them pull away, I felt like a pioneer about to go west in a covered wagon or maybe the last round-up. Goodbye cows.

Saturday, 20 August 2011


Serving coffee to the men in my basement and chatting as if they were life-long friends helped to me to see how pathetically lonely I was. These strangers filled a need. Yes, I had my family, but they were suffering too. A small group of teacher friends decided we would meet once a month in different restaurants for lunch. I circled the calendar and waited like a kid for Christmas. Then a light bulb went off and I thought of how I could have 'events' to look forward to. I just needed to schedule different events with different people once a month. All I needed was 30 friends! Okay... subtract 2 days for volunteering, 4 or 5 days for family, 4 days for painting class...How many friends am I down to? The strange thing is that it worked! I understand that I was filling empty hours and postponing the inevitable sadness that would visit me anyway, but my lovely friends went along with me and became my delightful 'events'.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Soul Bird

 Today, a poem I wrote that was inspired by a biblical passage.

                                                              Soul Bird
A soul bird flew
In skies above
It soared with joy
And it shone with love,
But a hunger pulled it
From its way
To an earthly pit
Of dust and clay.
The soul bird yearned
And it stretched its wings
But its heart was snared
By earthly things
So it softly prayed
With head bent down
And cast away
Its worthless crown
And will rise from blackness,
Empty night
To seek a radiant,
Brilliant light.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Men In My Basement

In the beginning, when grief tore me to pieces, ‘Stuff’ lost its value. If I couldn’t have my husband, I didn’t want ‘Stuff’. I started to give things away. Some things were legitimate, like mementos for people who loved my husband. Then I decided I would never entertain again, so away went the china cabinet and everything in it. Knick-knacks, doodads and what nots…. out the door. Then I arrived at my fabric stash and reason finally arrived as well. I stopped.
I waited the required ‘year’ before I decided to sell my house and all its memories. Before I could put it on the market I took a good, long look…my husband was a hoarder. No offence ladies, but it was ‘Man Stuff’. A wall of old turntables, musty wooden radios, heavy transformers, boxes of dusty, rusty oddities, and thousands of records. Boxes and boxes and coveted milk cartons of LP’s. There were enough 45’s to build a wall and even gramophone records. I decided to sell these things and so I put ads on the internet. My offspring were concerned about strangers coming to my house but I figured I had a paper trail and would be okay. I was actually as safe as a rock in bubble wrap. These men were an unusual breed. The men who flocked to my basement had a singular purpose…to find a rare treasure, to get a BARGAIN ! At a dollar a record, (even when it went down to 25 cents), the men would examine each record as if their lives depended on it. They held them up to the light, took them over to the window (remember - basement) and twirled them all around looking for scratches and imperfections. They examined the jackets and even smelled them. They were down there for HOURS. At first I stayed down with them but obviously I distracted them from their quest and some stayed so long I almost forgot they were there. Some of them, I served coffee. I took a sandwich down to one old fellow who was diabetic just in case he passed out and I would have to explain an unconscious or dead fellow in my basement.
Eventually, they would emerge, arms wrapped around their discoveries, and an absolute twinkle in their eyes. If they only knew….I would have just given them the records to be reminded of my husband’s eyes when he first snared the same treasures.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Sad Part

I have discovered that grief is a journey, not a destination. Everyone takes this journey in their own vehicle. My journey began in the depths of hell. Losing a person who is your soul mate is the worst form of torture, punishment, and anguish. The loss is not something that you 'get over'. There is always a deep, burning flame that ignites you from time to time. You feel it, examine it and sometimes even rejoice in it.
I am a resilient woman, a list maker, goal setter, 'Here comes Mighty Mouse to save the day!'kind of gal. Thus, I can only give in to weakness when the flame burns brightest. Something inside of me makes me survive and forge on. No drinking, pill taking, hoarding or any other serious manifestations of grief. I did however, spend too much money, join too many things and act a little impulsively. I think there was a great need to fill a void and for me, a pretty good guess that it would be healthy to sometimes be surrounded by people. Somehow I ended up in an oil painting class, volunteering in classrooms, joining a musical variety show, (can't really carry a tune but they needed warm bodies), designing costumes and secretary of a community radio station. Overkill huh?
Next Blog: The Men In My Basement

Friday, 12 August 2011

Hello out there in Blogland

I am a Blog virgin. It's been a long time since I've been able to use that word in reference to myself. It's also very appropriate to begin my first blog on this date as it would have been my 44th wedding anniversary today. This is a story of widowhood that I would like to share with other widows and widowers. Such a strange word, widow. Doesn't it make you think of spiders and blackness? It makes me think of black lace veils, joyless women, and of course death. The first time I had to write the horrid word in a blank space I nearly choked. "That's not me, I'm a cheerful, bouncy, glittery, warm, and very alive woman!" I was soon to find out that I now lived in a very different world from the one I inhabited for 64 years. A world with no map, no user manual, and darn it, no app!