Sunday, November 6, 2011


Here is a sad photo I snapped waiting in line at the WalMart pharmacy. The senior man in front of me had a Banquet meal and mini frozen pie in his cart. It struck me as very sad seeing that. The other night while watching t.v. with my youngest, I was struck by the reality that next year at this time, both boys will be off at college and I'll really be on my own. It was sobering. I need to get on the horse and start making plans for my future. As everyone always seems to say, it'll be here before I know it. I don't want to not be ready and prepared when my future reality does finally hit.

I heard on the news program that I watch that there will be a permanent group of unemployed individuals who don't go back to work. The reasons for long-term unemployment were discussed. They included the fact that while people are out of work, they lose various skills and get behind with business and technology trends. Also, the longer they are out, they lose business and professional contacts.

I likened these points to widowhood. How long-term widowhood can result in making us rusty around others, how our social contacts become diminished. I am finding it harder to interact socially these days - I have no idea how I'd react on a date, though I suppose it is like getting on a bike, and once you start practicing, you improve. But also, how limited my social sphere has become. I'm applying for grad school right now and struggling as to who to ask to write a reference letter for me. I've been out of touch with some old friends the past year or two. It makes me grateful for the social contact I do have with others while at my restaurant job. Yes, it isn't "professional" but it beats nothing. I also realize why it is important to have connections through church or other clubs or activities. I have chosen to not volunteer anywhere because it would have been hard the past year getting one son off to college and the other out of high school on my own. But having another professional contact for my grad school application would have been good.

It really, really is time for me to pull myself out of the current reality of my life. I can feel it and I can taste it but I'm not quite there yet. My youngest still has to finish senior year and we have to remain here during that time. Until then, I'll start with the grad school application process, which is a bit daunting. But focusing on the process will me keep centered on the future and not so much the past.

I guess when I see images of being alone, like this elderly man's t.v. dinners, I am struck by the hard reality of what it is really like to live alone. To be on one's own raising children and being worn, tired and drained from the process. To create a fuller future life takes tremendous resolve and stamina. We can't just snap our fingers and make it all better. It is another job and I'm already pretty tired. But I don't want to be pushing a cart with only single serving frozen meals in the future. I want to be dining out with co-workers and happily cooking for family and friends. As they sometimes say to women looking for someone to date - "a guy isn't going to fall out of the sky." And likewise, a new, improved, more passionate and rewarding life isn't going to materialize at this point. I have to start moving toward creating it.


  1. I love to check out what other people are buying in the grocery store, and I've seen a few older men whom I've pegged as widowers based on the contents of their cart + age + lack of wedding ring. I always feel a sort of solidarity with them, but I think it would be too weird to say anything, even "Hey, I get it." I feel like an undercover widow because I'm pretty sure that the world assumes I'm either divorced or never married.

  2. I have often thought it would be fun to be a grocery store register clerk, simply for the opportunity to see what other people are buying. About seeing widowers, I don't think men feel or think the way women do. I'd be much more comfortable talking with a woman-fellow widow, than approaching a guy. I think the men would not get the emotional connection I'd be trying to make.