I am surrounded by widows.
Not in the metaphorical sense or by friends or family, but physically in my neighborhood.
The elderly lady to the right of me in the big blue house is a widow, having lost her husband a few decades ago. The gentleman in the rambling white house to the left which underwent a lot of add-ons in past years, lost his wife a few years ago. Across the street is my neighbor Tom, who not only lost a wife but then a girlfriend and a few months later, hooked up with a woman he invariably refers to as “the widow Barbara,” his latest paramour. (The same Tom who incidentally, tried to pick up one of the funeral directors at my husband James’ funeral. Hey, any port in a storm!)
In our small lake community, Tom is viewed as the neighborhood curmudgeon. The one everyone shouts at to sit down at the annual community meetings, since he always seems to have a bone to pick with someone or something.
However, I have seen the creamy nougat center of Tom. The neighbor who helped dig me out of my driveway after a snowstorm, and who stops over on occasion to “make sure I’m not dead,” as he so elegantly puts it.
Apparently, he also looked after the widow woman who owned my house before me, so maybe it’s in the water. They had a signal worked out, wherein she would raise her kitchen blinds every morning to let him know she was still among the living.
It makes me sad of course, to be part of this club of widows and widowers. But then, they did not ask for membership either. Some TV show or movie I saw recently featured a character who bemoaned the term “widow” since it connotes spiders and black clothing. Another dark definition in the grammatical sense is “a last word or short last line of a paragraph falling at the top of a page or column and considered undesirable.”
Undesirable. I don’t have Tom’s resilience to always be on the lookout for the next relationship, or to be the word that would never stand alone at the top of an otherwise blank page. I know he is simply someone who can’t be by himself, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are many people who share that trait.
While most Americans prepped chicken wings in advance of the Super Bowl yesterday, I went to the movies by myself. I actually like to go by myself sometimes. After all, everyone is there to just stare silently (hopefully) at a large screen – it’s not like you have to make small talk or anything. I know many people would never consider going to the movies by themselves. But I say, try it! Think about it: you don’t have to share your snacks, or your arm rests for that matter.
I love the feeling of being totally immersed in the actions and story line that unfold on the large screen, which is like no experience in real life. Escapism at its best for sure. Who couldn’t use a two-hour break from life’s cares, woes, and unending responsibilities?
Widowhood may be the undercurrent of my life’s theme now. But I do have some script control. For instance, I plan to keep my kitchen shades up all the time.