My late husband trained me to be a widow. Well, of course, that was not his intention. Dead at age 87 for almost 5 years now, after our 59 year marriage, I thank him every day for my ability to meet the challenge of a new and different life after his life ended. I mourn the loss and think of him daily as I step into a world without him.
A product of marriage in the early 50s when men were breadwinners and the “little woman” stayed at home, he took his role to its maximum literal implication. At the end of each work day, his “job” was completed. Anything that had to do with “home” was included in my “job description.” And guess what! I did not know it could be otherwise. My Dad had done the same.
I was “in charge” of mostly anything that kept our household together—including assignations with plumbers, electricians, general contractors and the kids. Well, that’s not entirely fair. It was pretty much 80-20 regarding most of the above. But for sure – he was always there when we were choosing furniture — and ash trays. (a cigar smoker!)
He never went to a bank – his secretary did that—then I did. And in his later days, he had no interest in assembling or becoming informed about his tax information, which I did, obtaining his permanent signature. All this when he was in perfectly good health, mentally and physically.
Eventually, I trained him to remove dirty dishes from the table, and he actually graduated to removing dishes other than his own, placing them in the sink– dishwashers and washing machines – not his “thing.” He did learn how to “make” tea and turn on the toaster. I know, I know – but we’re not discussing co-dependency here. It worked for both of us.
Frequently, we traveled together to foreign destinations, and, at first somewhat grudgingly, but eventually acceptingly, I traveled without him to wilderness locations in which he had no interest. We gave each other space to go places and do things that had no appeal to the other of us.
So now, I am alone with a very independent life – rich in its diverse nature. I am never lonely or bored, and I pursue activities that fulfill my need to be productive – often engaging in nostalgia, which translates into memories of pleasurable times. I hang on to my valued old friends but also have new much younger people in my life. It may be “a couples world,” but I have never felt uncomfortable navigating it. I savor my freedom to be my authentic self, to come and go and change my mind about both or either. And there is no household chore, or major choice that I am incapable of doing, “getting done,” or making. My children are loving and supportive and are probably waiting “for the other shoe to drop,” but meanwhile have no responsibilities — or even, decisions to make — regarding my life.
Sometimes I wonder if such independence makes me a social aberrant or might affect my ability to establish close relationships. I may never know the answer to that one, but it is just one more thing in life about which answers will never be forthcoming. I accepted that, long ago.
Although I may not be the original “Merry Widow,” I discovered a new and exciting phase of life to which I have easily adapted — much thanks to my late husband.