1845 Books

Beauty Leads to Serenity, Peace and Joy

May 9, 2019
living room view

I have always loved beautiful things—who doesn’t?—but beauty was not essential to my happiness until I was widowed. Perhaps because of the drudgery involved in settling the estate and learning Lev’s business after his death, I desperately needed to be in light-filled, tranquil, soothing space to fill the emptiness and mitigate my pain. I describe those early months of grief in Reclaiming Joy: There was …

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Men: Don’t Do This to Your Wives

May 2, 2019
Ella in file room

Everyone—all the banks, all the media—seems to have waked up at the same time to the fact that women outlive men and almost all will have to be responsible for their own financial affairs at some point in their lives. There’s not a week when I don’t see another story about it. It’s not just the Wall Street Journal or Brown Brothers Harriman’s Women and …

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Throwback Thursday: Remembering Sri Lanka

April 25, 2019
Indian Ocean 1/1/05

The Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka reminded me of the two weeks I spent there as part of a construction team one year after the 2004 tsunami. As I wrote in Reclaiming Joy, “the people’s serenity as they faced the future without loved ones, without homes, and without other possessions awed me.” I was the cook and travel guide for a group from First …

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The Journey to Easter Joy

March 14, 2019
journey to Easter Joy

Though the observance of Ash Wednesday, Lent and Holy Week was not part of my faith tradition growing up, today even Baptists mark the journey to the cross and on to the empty tomb. For me, this period on the church calendar marks the approach to the anniversary of Lev’s death. I look past Good Friday and death to the joy of Easter. I want …

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Home Alone in the Kitchen

March 9, 2019
cucumber finger sandwich

After three weeks of travel—eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in restaurants—I was glad to get home to my kitchen. The refrigerator was empty; the pantry shelves, bare. Without taking time to find recipes or make a grocery list, I headed to the store because I was committed to bring finger sandwiches to a meeting the next day. It’s been years since I’ve made finger sandwiches …

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What Is Your Travel Profile?

February 4, 2019
Travel Planning Tools

Lev and I always loved to travel. He was a travel agent when we married, and though the volume of summer travel business precluded our enjoying vacations in the early years of marriage, we still found many opportunities to enjoy the perks of being in that business. Lev planned our honeymoon—I don’t think I had any input—a glamorous trip to Mexico City in December 1962, …

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Banishing the Ghosts of Christmas Past

November 30, 2018
Ghosts of Christmas Past

Lev relished the persona of being gruff and grumpy, and he welcomed the grandchildren’s nickname for him—Grumps. Come Christmas, he played the role to the hilt when they were around, going around muttering, “Bah! Humbug!” like Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As choreographer of our Christmas rituals and traditions, I encouraged him, setting the stage with Dickens-themed Holiday decorations. We remember the story: …

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You Don’t Have to Be Home Alone on the Holidays

November 23, 2018
December anniversary dinner

How do you handle life’s transitions as the older generations age and the young ones grow up and marry? How do you maintain family connections, especially those time-honored holiday traditions and rituals? The aggrieved, widowed sister wrote Carolyn Hax, Washington Post advice columnist: Our extended family—siblings and kids—has always gathered at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last week I got a text from my sister saying she …

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Back Home Alone in the Kitchen

September 18, 2018
Celebrating Joy

I don’t know about you; but when I am tired and stressed, I eat—preferably carbs. And between staying in a hotel for four nights, the stress of giving a speech at my Baylor book launch September 14, parties and lots of quality time with family and friends, I ate whatever I could lay my hands on, including a dinner plate-sized nine-layer chocolate cake with whipped …

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A Letter to My Fellow Widows

September 11, 2018
letter to widows

After the publication of my memoir, Reclaiming Joy, started generating attention on social media, I began to hear from people who found their way to this website. They shared their loss—or their friend’s or mother’s loss—and asked, “Will your book help?” I can’t make any promises, but perhaps the letter I wrote back in 2014 when I first began to plan a book—now the introduction to …

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