Tuesday, March 22, 2011


When I was a kid, I was very aware of the "sainthood" bestowed on those relatives that had died. Coming from a big Italian family, whenever someone passed away, all of a sudden, they could do no wrong, and it was sacrilege to speak ill of the dead, even if you thought the person was a complete idiot when they were alive.

Now that I am an adult, and I'm in the situation of having a dead spouse, I, too, have bestowed "sainthood" on him, even though there were times when he really drove me up the wall. But in thinking about this "sainthood", it really isn't "sainthood" at all. I call it "putting things into perspective".

Bobby did quite a few things that would drive me crazy. He put his socks all over the floor, dirty clothes ON the hamper instead of IN the hamper, and one of his favorites...sitting his butt on the couch and watching yet another episode of How It's Made when there was something in or around the house that had to be moved, drilled, hammered, dug or mowed. When I would complain that I was doing something and he was doing nothing, he would pat the section of the couch next to him and say, "Then don't do it and come and sit next to me." Smooth talker.

I think the "sainthood" is just our way of realizing that old adage, "You don't know what you have until it is gone." We realize that all the things that our spouse did that drove us nuts weren't really horrible at all. And we realize all the good things that we may have overlooked or appreciated. He never once complained about not having anything to wear when I forgot to do laundry. He never once said anything about my fluctuating weight. Ever. When I came home from work, exhausted, he would either offer to cook (usually pancakes) or go and pick up a pizza. He never complained when I went to my writer's group or book club, even though I knew he would rather I was home with him. He would tell me I was beautiful, even when I was wearing sweats and a T-shirt with a stain on it.

I took these things for granted and boy do I miss them now! So when people question the sainthood that is bestowed on someone that was far from the dictionary definition of perfect, it makes me think twice; because to me, it's just putting it all into perspective.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Open Wound

About three Sundays ago, I was sitting in church waiting for the service to start when I realized I had forgotten to get a bulletin from the usher. So I went to the back of the church to get a bulletin when one of the parishioners, Joe, had just walked in. Joe greeted me with a smile, along with the ushers who were handing out the bulletins. I took my bulletin and went back to my seat.

I was there for about thirty seconds when I burst out in tears. I excused myself and went to the back of the church again, but this time, continuing out the door. One of my friends from church followed me out and gave me a hug. She asked me if I was OK, and "What happened?"

It was Joe. Joe is a very nice, approximately 80-year-old man who has been attending our church for years. Joe's wife had just passed away about a month before that, and that was the first time I had ran into him since his wife died. All I could think of was how lonely he must be, since I am going through the same thing. The pain was horrible, like I was losing Bobby again. My friend, who was comforting me said, "It must be like a wound with a scab on it, and the scab just got torn off again." What a great simile! I hadn't thought of it that way.

The following Friday, I was on Facebook and there was a post from a high school classmate of mine who is my age and had just lost her husband. From out of nowhere, I burst out in tears. I knew her pain, only too well, and even though I was crying for her, I felt that familiar hurt all over again. Again, that scab had been torn off, and here I was crying all over again, as if I had just lost Bobby - again.

My question is this...is that wound ever going to heal? Will it always have a scab on it, that can be torn off at any unexpected moment in a split second? And if it does heal, how big of a scar will it leave?

Word Play

Ever since Bobby passed away, I’ve gotten more sensitive to things that I hear people say, and things that I used to say. They just don’t seem appropriate anymore.

Recently, while looking at some pictures with family, someone commented on a shirt that someone was wearing in one of the pictures that they thought my husband would have liked and worn. I looked at the shirt and knew right away that he would never have worn that shirt. So I just said non-chalantly, “He wouldn’t have been caught dead in that shirt.” As soon as it came out of my mouth, I was appalled at myself. Where did that come from? How could I say such a thing? What was I thinking? But it just slipped out.

I also remember a few years ago, when Bobby was still alive, we were with the kids visiting my mother and I wanted to use her computer. She still used dial-up to get on the internet. Anyone with a home network knows that dial-up is ridiculously slow. I clicked on her internet browser and waited for it to load in. And waited. And waited. And waited. While waiting, I remember leaning back in the chair, putting my arms out to my sides and saying to my mother, “This computer is so slow! I've been waiting so long for this to load that riga mortis is starting to set in.” At the time, I thought that was hilarious. In retrospect, I think it is a horrible thing to say! No wonder my mother didn't laugh. She's a widow, and I get it now.

Then there are the typical things that people say all the time. "My cell phone died." "The car battery died." "The refrigerator died." We don't think twice about using the word "died" when referring to things no longer working. I never even noticed these statements in conversation before, but now, every time I hear something like this, I think to myself that things cannot die, they just stop working. I decided to look up "die" in the dictionary, to prove my point, and there were several definitions, including those that refer to inanimate objects. So I guess in this case, I'm wrong.

Or maybe I'm just being too sensitive. Widows do that sometimes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Miracle at the Mall

This incident happened to me two and a half months ago, right before Christmas. However, I did not blog about it right away because I thought anyone reading it might decide that I was out of my mind. However, after thinking about it, I've decided to blog it anyway. It's about my own personal miracle at the mall that combined my experience as a widow with the movie “Miracle on 34th Street”.

About two years ago, Bobby and I decided that living in New Jersey, it was just plain stupid that neither one of us owned a pair of warm shoes. But we never got around to buying them that year, then the following winter he was sick, so shoes were the last thing on our mind.

So this past winter, I decided it was time to get warm shoes. I already had boots, but I wanted shoes. I’m a bit fussy about my shoes, so when I saw a pair I wanted, I would buy them, since it might take me a long time to find another pair that I really wanted.

On the Friday before Christmas, I headed over to the mall to buy the shoes. I went right to Lord & Taylor, because I knew they carried the brand & style I was looking for. I went into the store, and found a pair in brown on the display, so I brought them over to the salesman, and said, “I would like these in black, size six.”

He answered back, “I’m sorry, miss, but we only have brown, and we don’t even have brown in size six. All the size sixes are gone. However, we might be getting more in on Tuesday. I'm not sure.”

I told him I was hoping to have them for the weekend, so he looked around, then said in a low voice, “You can try Bloomingdales. Bloomingdales also carries this brand.”

My mouth dropped open. It was like Santa Claus in Macy’s telling the little boy’s mom to go get the fire truck at Gimbels.

So I headed over to Bloomingdales, and found the same brown shoe on the display. I walked up to a saleswoman, and asked her, “Do you have these in black, size 6?”

She took the shoe and said, “Oh, I don’t think so. I think we’re all out of black, and I’m sure we’re all out of size six. Sizes six and seven are the most popular sizes, and they tend to get sold out first.”

“Can you check anyway?” I asked.

She looked somewhere in between annoyed and feeling sorry for me, so she went in the back to look. She came out with a box and a very surprised look on her face. “Here you go. Size six, in black.” I took the shoes and tried them on. They fit perfect, so I went to the register.

The same saleswoman was at the resister. While she was ringing up the sale, I asked her if there were any more black shoes in the back. She shook her head and said, “No, not at all. These were the last pair of black. I cannot believe they are a size six.”

So that is my version of Miracle on 34th Street. Bobby wanted me to have warm shoes, and I’m convinced that he had something to do with me finding the one and only black pair, in size six at the mall that night.