Sunday, June 27, 2010

Quote for the Week

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.
Jerry Wright

Saturday, June 26, 2010

International Widows' Day

This past week Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, announced the International Widows' Day on June 23. Blair presented a report by the Loomba Foundation entitled "Invisible, Forgotten Sufferers: The Plight of Widows Around the World." From the article I learned that there are 245 million widows around the world, many of whom live in abject poverty. Iraqi and Afghan widows whose husbands were killed during the wars are often forced from their homes and left to live as best they can along with their children. The report cited elderly widows still caring for children and child widows, some as young as 7, who suffer unbelievable poverty and abuse. In many third world countries widows are unable to claim any assets left by their husbands; some are accused of murder or even witchcraft; others are forced to marry someone in their husband's family; many are raped. "Over 500 million dependent and adult children of widows are caught in a vicious underworld in which disease, forced servitude, homelessness and violence are rampant and youngsters are denied schooling, enslaved or preyed upon by human traffickers."

Gosh, we thought we had it bad. We don't even have a clue!

What can we as widows do to help our sisters around the world? The easiest thing is to make a donation to the Loomba Foundation, which focuses on easing the plight of widows worldwide. Their address is:
The Loomba Foundation
c/o Gutenberg Communications
555 Eighth Avenue
Suite 1002
New York, NY 10018
I sent a donation today and I intend to contact them to see what else can be done. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Quote for the Week

“The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune's spite; revive from ashes and rise.”
Miguel de Cervantes

Friday, June 18, 2010

Through the Wilderness: What Keeps Me Going

I want to write about what keeps me going as I journey through the widowsphere in hopes that it will help others in this murky situation to think about what comforts them.

1. Memories. Ralph and I had a good marriage. I like to remember romantic times, silly times, special times. Our life wasn't perfect. I remember arguments and misunderstandings, too. And the time I socked him IN FRONT OF HIS MOTHER when we were driving on the freeway. I shared this with friends. They thought it was funny. Ralph said, "Would it be just as funny if I had punched you?" Guess not.

2. Dreams. Sometimes Ralph's presence in dreams is so real that I wake certain he's back with me. Equally real are the times I "lose" him in a dream and carry that feeling with me all the next day.

3. My answering machine. I've kept Ralph's greeting on it, and sometimes I call my number just to hear his voice.

4. My family. How lucky I am that my children live in the same town. And that I am able to watch my granddaughter grow up.

5. Friends and relatives. Most of them have been kind enough to let me talk about Ralph when I need to. And they've been a wonderful support system. They've made me laugh even when I didn't think I could. We've shared good times along with the bad.

6. Work. What could be more life-affirming than working with children? On the wall of my office is a quote from Katherine Graham: "To do what you love and to think that it matters, how can anything be more fun?"

7. Toby and Tiki, my cuddly cats. They keep me warm at night and are great companions when I'm lonely.

8. Books. I have been a reader all my life. Escaping into a fictional world helps a lot when you're grieving. And I enjoy my book discussion groups.

9. Writing. Even though I haven't written romance lately, I still write. No, I don't journal. I've never found it useful to write down my innermost thoughts; I just think them.

10. Travel. I love the planning almost as much as the trips. My sister is a great travel buddy, and I look forward to more vacations together in the futre.

On the other hand---
Here are some things that are tough:
1. Running into people who don't know that Ralph died, having them ask me how he is and having to tell them he "isn't." It's uncomfortable on both sides.

2. Seeing people out with their spouses or significant others. Do they realize how lucky they are?

3. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries--that's a given.

4. When something breaks down and I can't fix it. It reminds me what a klutz I am.

5. Wishing for someone to let me talk through decisions. Ralph was great about that.

Even when things are tough, I try to focus on the positive. Losing Ralph has taught me about the fragility of life and the importance of appreciating every moment. I sure haven't turned into a Pollyanna, but I'm working hard to become a more positive person. The path through widowhood is rocky, with twists and turns and potholes along the way, and I often stumble, but I'm trying to keep on keeping on.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Quote for the Week

What God Hath Promised

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through.
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer, light on the way,
Grace for the trial, help from above,
Unfailling sympathy, undying love.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting Through the Wilderness: The Desert

William Bridges, who works with both organizational and individual transitions, speaks of the three-phase journey of transition and likens it to the journey from Egypt of the ancient Israelites. As widows, traveling from couplehood to independent self-hood, we, too, traverse these three stages.

For us, the first stage is abrupt, sometimes unexpected, always painful. It happens when our spouse draws a last breath. Even if we think we were prepared, we aren't. And, like the Israelites, we don't leap from an ending to a new beginning in an instant. Instead, we enter what Bridges call "the neutral zone," a time of transition. The Israelites weren't ready to enter the Promised Land until enough time had passed for them to truly leave Egypt behind. They needed a whole new generation to take the place of the former slaves before they were ready as a nation to control their own destiny.

Bridges says during that time of chaos and confusion, we need some early successes to keep us going. I planned a memorial service, got through my first day back at work, cooked a meal just for myself after having eaten at the hospital for seven months. Small successes but oh, how I needed them to bolster my confidence.

But we shouldn't foorce outselves to speed through our desert of transition, Bridges says. We need to give it time, and that time varies. What worked for me might not for you. We pass through rocky terrain, thirst for our lost loved one, shiver in the cold desert nights. Bridges cautions us to take our time until we're ready for a new beginning. And even when we do take on a new identity, just as the Israelites keep the Exodus in their collective memory, we, too, will keep that old life, that old way of being in our hearts.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quotes about Books

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? Henry Ward Beecher

No furniture is so charming as books. Sydney Smith

Even bad books are books and therefore sacred. Gunter Grass

Classic--a book which people praise and don't read. Mark Twain

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My All-Time Favorite Books

My cousin gave me one of those little boxes you can buy at the bookstore called Book Lover's Kit, so I began thinking of my favorite books and decided to list some here.
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
My Sister's Keeper
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Handmaid's Tale
Never Let Me Go
The Road
The Echo-Maker
A Book of Ruth

The March of Folly
How We Die

The Aeneid
Anna Karenina


Children's fiction:
Bridge to Terabithia

Young Adult:
Go Ask Alice

Children's picture books
Hailstones and Halibut Bones
The Seals on the Bus

Favorite poems
The Journey
I Will Not Die an Unlived Life

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quote for the Week

“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” Lucille Ball

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