Widow

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: …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

Ready to Party?

November 15, 2018
Dinner for 3

Tennyson may be right that “In the Spring a young man’s [and woman’s] fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”[1]; but in my stage of life, fall too often turns my mind to thoughts of loss. The shortened days depress me. While I thought nothing of going out after dark with Lev, nine autumns later I am still uncomfortably surprised by the darkness when I …

Continue reading

Taking Time for Joy

November 8, 2018
Dallas Arboretum

The unseasonably cool, gray, wet weather in October left me feeling like Mrs. Noah aboard the Ark; and shorter days added to my growing dissatisfaction. I had a mild case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which has plagued me each fall since Lev’s death. With too little light, I struggle to be happy. This fall I had my garden plans—indeed, I had removed the dead …

Continue reading

Writing in the Long Form

August 23, 2018
writers bookshelf

Three weeks from today, I will be sitting at a table in the Waco Convention Center autographing copies of my memoir, Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widows, for the very first time; and I will have my book to add to my bookshelf. How naive I was when I started! Earlier this week I scrolled through my old blogs just to be sure I don’t repeat myself …

Continue reading

Does the Entry Say “Welcome”?

August 5, 2018
First Congregational Church

Last week I decided to take a self-guided walking tour of Nantucket’s historic churches, something I haven’t done since my first extended visit in 2014. As I paused to study the front of the churches—Baptist, Episcopal, Unitarian, Quaker, Catholic, Methodist and Congregational—I found myself examining them through landscape architect Gordon Hayward’s eyes. Do the entries say “welcome”? Is it easy to identify the main entry? …

Continue reading

Time to Think About Your Summer Garden

July 25, 2018
Nantucket garden

Gardening is a joy I reclaimed after Lev’s death; and since I started coming to Nantucket, I have sought to transform my South Texas garden to a traditional New England or English cottage garden. Each summer I look for new ideas—new ways to garden at home. When we are holed up in our air-conditioned homes and the temperature outside hovers near 100 degrees, thinking about …

Continue reading

Who Is the Adult in the Room?

July 8, 2018
Philippians 4:8

The old Washington political cliché has taken on new meaning and new life recently, generally referring to character and behavior rather than policy decisions. But the term has resonated with me in a totally nonpolitical way. I often find myself in situations where a tiny voice in my head reminds me, “Be the adult in the room.” Somehow, that message is more effective in curbing …

Continue reading

Home Alone: With Whom Do I Celebrate?

June 28, 2018
Rejoice with those who rejoice

As a new widow, I had to accept and acknowledge my limitations and embrace my new role if I was to reclaim joy. I did not like my new status—widow—neither the circumstances that made me a widow nor the images the word conjured up. I envisioned sad, lonely old ladies, living on their memories, dependent on others to take care of them. That was not …

Continue reading

I’ve Come Full Circle on Nantucket

June 14, 2018
Sunday-Nantucket waterfront

My life has come full circle in the past five years, and it’s appropriate that I end this period of life where I began it—on Nantucket. My first visit as a widow was in August 2013—four days at the end of a small-ship cruise along the coast of Maine. I originally planned to spend a week, but I was afraid to be completely alone for …

Continue reading