WIDOWHOOD HAPPENS — #3
The Widowhood Happens chapter about Margaret starts out with:
Margaret lay asleep in the bedroom adjoining her husband’s, unaware of the critical situation taking place just thirty feet away.
She and Jack had come to the mutual conclusion, years before, that they would be happier if they had separate bedrooms. Margaret could sprawl all over the bed, and read all night if she wanted to, without disturbing her husband. And if Jack wanted to watch TV in bed it wouldn’t bother her. It was the only practical solution.
Her doctor husband, his face contorted with pain, had just finished pushing the buttons on the phone. He could hear it ringing and ringing. Surely his cardiologist would be home at midnight.
Why the hell doesn’t he answer?
This is the tack I took in writing Widowhood Happens—listening to ordinary people from all walks of life talking about very personal issues—the deaths of their spouses.
At first I decided that my book would be about widows because there are more of them than widowers—and they generally are more open about sharing their experiences than are men. For that reason I titled the book Widow . . . Or Widow-To-Be?
I thought that said it all: The odds are against you if you are a married woman. If you aren’t already a widow you probably will become one. The odds, I had read, were about seven to one. Out of eight widowed people, only one would be a man. That statistic may vary from time to time. The title also changed to Widowhood Happens when I decided to include men. And I included a chapter about hospice.
The book wasn’t difficult to write. One person I interviewed would mention someone else I should talk with, or I would hear about an organization that helps the widowed with their problems. Then I would call someone from there, tell her about my project and ask for an interview appointment. I was never turned down.
I decided to write the advice of professionals to intersperse with the stories of real-life survivors. It worked well. There was a psychologist who felt that in most cases psychiatric help was not necessary for the widowed, but gave examples of when it is a good idea. A widowed person keeping the window shades pulled down, locking the door and not going out are a hint that something may not be normal.
We also talked about insensitive things that people say to the bereaved, such as, “Oh, don’t worry, you’ll get married again.” The doctor feels that insensitive people are going to be insensitive in almost every situation.
I wrote several chapters about helpful organizations—one was social. Another helped get women back into the work force if they haven’t worked outside the home for a long time, or ever. They needed evaluation, classes and encouragement. They can and do change for the better.
I found another one, a Catholic organization called The Beginning Experience, which conducted a therapeutic non-denominational retreat for the divorced and widowed.
Incidentally, I pushed no religious beliefs. I chose to interview professionals who had helpful information to share.
Therefore, I talked with a Catholic priest, a Presbyterian minister, and widowed people of the Jewish faith, Baptist, Church of Christ and others who belong to faiths of which I have no idea. I believe several were atheists or agnostics. It matters not. This book is not about religion, not even the retreat.
The priest described the weekend seminar as “a process of closure for people who have lost their mates, either through death or divorce. The summary of what we are hoping they will accomplish is to write a letter of closure of the past relationship. We’re not asking them to pretend it never existed. We want them to close it and not allow the ghost from back there to influence the present. What we’re asking them to do is to close the door gently on the past.” These sessions are led by divorced or widowed lay people who have been trained in the theraputic process.
The priest told me about Nancy. Here is the beginning of the chapter about her and her problems:
Someone proposed a toast—a toast to the baby Nancy was about to have. “When’s it due, Nance?”
“On the twentieth,” she responded and then smiled. The thought of not having to carry around such a load was a happy one. Pregnant much of her six years of marriage to Larry, Nancy was expecting their third baby.
His life-insurance-salesmen buddies made corny jokes about her having the baby at the party, but that was all right. Everybody was having a good time. And Larry had another drink. After all, it was a party.
It was almost midnight when she noticed that his equilibrium was not what it should have been. His speech was getting a little slurred too. “Come on, hon. We’ve got to go home. I’ll drive.”
The goodbyes got lengthy. Larry leaned a little on a friend as he was escorted to the passenger side of the car and helped in.
Nancy slid her bulky abdomen under the steering wheel, stretched her tanned legs to reach the accelerator and backed out of the driveway.
On the way home she kept glancing at him. Uh-oh, he’s passed out—or asleep. I’ll have to call the neighbors to help get him inside.
“Just stretch him out on the living room floor,” Nancy instructed her friends.
Their young sons were asleep, so Nancy woke them to take them with her when she took the babysitter home. She didn’t want them waking up while she was away, wondering why Daddy was asleep on the floor.
Home again, Nancy herded them into their beds, kissed them goodnight and went to check on Larry. As she touched him, three-year-old Scott walked up behind her and asked, “What are you doing, Mommy? What’s wrong with Daddy?”
Nancy explained that he had had too much to drink. Then, not wanting Scott to worry, took her son into her bed and they fell asleep.
Suddenly, after about five hours, she woke up with a strange feeling. A terrifying message struck her: You’re alone with the kids.
She quickly got up and hurried to the living room. She turned Larry over and gasped. He was blue.
— — — — —
Note: WIDOWHOOD HAPPENS can be ordered
wherever books are sold. Don’t forget Kindle.
ISBN 13: 978-1460953945
ISBN 10: 1460953940