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The Experienced Widow
Three things I learned as a result of being widowed twice in my life, once at 27 and the second time at 73.
1. Life goes on and although you have wonderful memories to cherish, you must learn to live in the present.
2. Be grateful for having a partner who valued you and tried to make you happy. If you are alone and don’t like being alone, find someone who will make you happy again.
3. You will compare – there is no way to avoid it, but also look for the things that are good in the new relationship, even if those new things will be different.
Life Goes On – at the age of 27 with two children under the age of five, I was thrust upon myself in the early 1970s. It was bad enough that I was widowed at that age, but it was also a time of tremendous upheaval. The 1970s brought the Vietnam War into crisis, Nixon was impeached, and feminism was on the rise. Everything was upside down for me. As a post-Victorian baby boomer who was used to wearing women’s clothing, women’s clothing looked masculine, and I felt awkward and insecure about myself. Mary Tyler Moore had her TV show about living alone as a woman and she looked good.
After my first husband died, I knew I had to change my life, and if I didn’t, I probably never would. So I left my small town in upstate New York and moved to Canada to start a new life. It was scary and there were many days when I wanted to run back to the familiar, but I persevered, telling myself that I would give it 5 years and if I didn’t make it, I would go back to my hometown. .
It was in the second year of my new life in Canada that I met my soon-to-be second husband, who was also a widow. He had one child and I had two girls, so we became a blended family. Merging two families is not easy because of emotional issues and differences in how to run a household and raise children, but the marriage lasted 43 years. I thought that was it for me as far as men in my life when he died.
Be grateful to have a partner – my first marriage lasted 9 years and was that of a young couple with innocence and maybe a lack of awareness. My second marriage lasted 43 years to a wonderful man who was intelligent, kind, compassionate and loved to travel. We had a very nice life, although we had to work hard to keep family problems from separating us. But I’ve been married since I was 18 minus 3 years between marriages, so I needed to find someone to share my life with, even if that didn’t mean marriage at this point. I didn’t like being alone.
You Will Compare – Because life goes on, and because I’ve had two good marriages, I decided to log into Match and do some ‘joint’ shopping to see if someone might fit some of my requirements. I didn’t want a divorced man, so I eliminated anyone who was divorced. I wanted an educated man because my second husband was a scientist who had a renaissance man approach to life. I wanted someone who likes to travel because I have traveled all over the world with my second husband and I also wanted someone thoughtful and kind.
Well, I ended up with a twice divorced man who could only do cruises due to mobility issues and was sometimes blunt with others instead of kind.
I had to let go of my need to compare him to the first two husbands, even though he was closer to the first husband than the second. See, I can’t stop comparing! I had to adjust to being on a cruise rather than going into the country and creating a path as we went. Mind you the cruises were first class so I soon learned to enjoy being pampered on these cruises.
Although he was a smart man in his own way, he lacked the sophistication that my second husband had, so I had to learn to adapt to a limited range of subjects and simple films rather than complex ones.
The good thing my new partner brought me was sexuality. I thought that part of my life was over and now with this new partner who loved sex, hugging and kissing, I started to really enjoy my body at my age.
We also baked and cooked together and it was fun looking for new recipes. We both enjoyed going to concerts and musicals and finding new and interesting things together. I began to appreciate these new gifts of his contribution to my life.
At 74, I can honestly say that life goes on. I want to live in the present, even as I continue to cherish my past. I am grateful for the gift of company and to continue to look for the things that bring me joy in a new partner.
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