Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm Fallin'. How About You?

The mood has changed.

Not just my mood (although that can change every second thanks to fluctuating hormone levels and no husband to yell at when I’m cranky for no reason). It seems like everyone’s mood has changed.

You know...we’re pretty funny. We can’t just give ourselves a time to adjust to the fact that the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler. We can’t just sit back and relax and accept it for what it is.

Nope. Because thanks to Target and Hobby Lobby breaking out the Autumn decorations in June and Christmas stuff in July, we now feel like we’re way behind on holidays we’d really just rather fast-forward through.

I mean...c’mon...our spouses are dead. Can’t we just get a bye? (Yes Dad...I watch ESPN every once in awhile. During the commercial breaks on E!.)

I think we, as widows and widowers, really feel the pressure of the holidays. There are many reasons for this, most of which are obvious and that I will blog about later. But right now, I’d like to focus on one thing: Our tasks are doubled.

For the non-shopper who lost his shopper...he now feels the pressure of the holidays looming before him and panic sets in early (which you should really stop worrying about. Don’t you know that Walgreens is open on Christmas day??? Found that out last year). For the person who lost the more responsible one of the couple who would always remember to “fall back” and change the clocks when it was’s on Sunday the 7th, so don’t forget (you’re welcome). And for the cook who could tackle all of the side dishes but never had to personally take the guts out of the turkey...well...I have no advice for you. You’re just going to have to suck it up.

Bottom’re dealing with tasks for two. And it really blows.

Before my husband died, Fall was my favorite time of the year. The leaves would be beautiful. There would be a sudden nip in the air. And it meant that it was time to cover up the grill and start cooking gumbo again.

Now it means that the leaves fall (and I have to rake them up). It’s damn cold (and I have to pay the heating bill). And it’s time to start cooking gumbo again. For 3 children who would rather I just grill up some hot dogs.

The first year he was gone, I came up with a brilliant plan of combining my need for leaf-raking and my friends’ need for gumbo into one “fun” little party. How about...a LEAF RAKING PARTY!!! That’s right! I’ll cook, you guys come over, rake my leaves, and then all of the kids can jump in them and play and have a great time!

My friends learned a hard lesson that year. That just because the word “party” is at the end of a phrase, doesn’t make it fun. And a bowl of gumbo doesn’t quite make up for the 18 bags of leaves they stuffed and hauled to the curb while all of our children watched with interest from the porch.

Fast forward to me the next year, out in the yard, alone, trying to get leaves stuffed in bags in hurricane-like winds. While my kids watched with interest from the cozy innards of the house.

I know I should be out of the “angry” phase of my grief by now, but every year, as I stack 1800 pounds of firewood, I curse my husband with every splinter, every blister, every smashed thumb (well, technically I only have 2 but you know what I mean).

The first year he was gone, I was still in my “I can do this!” phase and nothing was going to stop me (especially since my friends wouldn’t call me back when I invited them to a Firewood Stacking Party). I eyed that mountain of wood, strapped on my MP3 player, and got to work, loading it onto a cart (because my gate is too small to fit a wheelbarrow through, of course) and stacking it neatly on the side of the house.

I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I was done. That is...until I had my parents over for dinner that night and bragged to my dad that I had stacked all 1800 pounds by myself.

He went outside, took a look at my stack and said, “Huh. Looks like only 1400 pounds to me.”

Smart ass.

Now, a little less optimistic and a helluva lot lazier, I look at that mound and wonder if the 10 year old kid down the street would like to make some extra cash. I proved I could do it that first year. I’m over it.

I miss that “can do” attitude. Never mind that I was was really helpful back then. It was what made me think I could tackle the snowblower for the first time. It didn’t occur to me, my first go around, that I had actually blown the snow twice because I had no idea how to aim that damn blower-thingy. The point was...I did it on my own.

Now, I just count on my southwest exposure to help me out. And if we have enough snow and I can’t get out for a few days...I really didn’t need to go anywhere that badly anyway.

I know you’re wondering what my point is to these stories. I don’t have one. At this point I’d be surprised if you’re still reading this.

I mean...shouldn’t you be out shopping?


  1. I'm feel'n ya sister...Changing oil, yard work, and such...Fur realz I'm over it. The holidays over *hugs*

  2. LOL! I wish that I actually had the "can do" phase. It has never arrived! While reading this I was impressed with your energy. I envy everyone's energy. Holidays are just too hard for me. I am avoiding all holidays as much as possible. People are starting to get put out with me, but I am ignoring Christmas again this year. I will be taking a vacation to Florida with my grown children which is becoming our new tradition.

  3. Oh MY do I relate to this story. You are an awesome writer, by the way! I was just trying to tell someone about my attempt with the snowblower last year and how I did, indeed, have to do it twice since it's a tricky little contraption! October was the one year anniversary so last year was our first winter. Yes, I have that can-do attitude and am doing quite well with it so far, I suppose. Hopefully, though, I've added a dollop of realism to my optimism so that I can keep my sanity until the kids turn 18, at least :) Thanks for the story- it was great!

  4. Love your stories and your great sense of humor!
    Keep em coming. Thank God my children are grown
    and that "daddy" told them to " take care of mamma" as he lay dying in the hospital.
    He always had a way...very influential. Thought of me until the very end. LOVED THAT MAN!!!

  5. Anonymous...Can I use that even though my husband didn't technically SAY that??? :>)

    Thanks all. We ALL "can do." :>)

  6. In addition to Walgreens, most CVS pharmacies are open on Christmas too.

  7. I do all my Christmas shopping online and am done by the second week of November. I hate the holidays but Christmas day is my son's birthday so I am forced to deal with it a little. As for the can do attitude, it comes and goes for me even at 3 1/2 years out.

  8. so well timed. I went to kohl's two weeks before Halloween and I saw Christmas Stockings and just lost it. I just kept thinking, what am I going to do with his stocking this year? Do I hang it up? Do I not hang it up? What are the kids going to think? Just I don't know, made me think about everything coming up. Was in denial about it until those damn stockings!!!
    Advice, get a quote on a landscaper... I never thought I could afford one, I have five acres of leaves and was charged $600. Came home from work and it was like fairies came and took them all away. Well worth it :) Glad to know I'm not the only one who curses out their husband for not being there for the crap they used to do :)

  9. Ah, damn, Dear died last winter, worst around here in years but, you know, the tractor might have been his, but the snow blade? mine, I did it.

    This autumnal time, I am not raking what can't be bitten to bits by the zero turn mower. The pine needles I want, another story.

    Of course I am still reading, delusional? yep, I'll own that. Oh and your dad? Love him for you but, really, I don't care his age, he gets a dope slap. Honey, you warmed yourself once stacking the damn shit and then it gets to work warming you again, best job!

  10. I am so feeling this! I tried so hard for so long to keep up the "we" even tho it was just me...I'm exhausted. I'm so over the "I did it" phase too. It just isn't fun when the "I did it" is every thing! It is just exhausting! Thanks so much for this post...I'm so tired now, I must go to bed...maybe that's the one benefit of doing everything night I'm just too tired to be sad. Good night!

  11. This is weird!!!! My sister was at my house tonight and commented on my dying ivy plant. Now, she is OCD for cleaning. I mean, this woman fu----- loves to clean. I just looked at her, after fixing dinner for her and her husband, and said, "you know, I am doing the work of two people right now. I know the house isn't cleaned the way you would, and you probably cringe at the cobwebs I am sure you see that I don't, but I am doing all I can do." Even feeding the dogs is an every night thing now. Seems small, but my husband used to do it too. He helped me around the house. I don't have snow problems as I live in AZ,and I let the leaves blow away because I live in the country. But there is some outside work. Brother in law helps, and I pay him for mowing lawn, trimming, etc. Everything else I have to do, or hire someone. Some people have no clue what it's all about.

  12. Reading away. I think I'm in the "can do" mode, but I do get angry that I'm left with it all. Angry at the illness that took my man, not my man. I've been left with three full sheds full of gear, two properties, (one is a 40 acre farm) and I'm not getting any younger!

    Can relate to your post, and also all the comments. From Anne (in New Zealand)

  13. I've been in the pissed off mode all week myself...I guess it comes with going through boxes of business rcpts that were suppose to have gone to the cpa's oh I don't know...YEARS AGO!!These were in the garage when I had to sell my home.Got put in storage with a bunch of other packed boxes that I don't have a clue what's in them and don't care at this point but still have to sift through...sometimes it just seems like it will never end.Or when you think you have something taken off your platter and it magically reappears two months later. So yes, let the venting @ the LH commence! The Y did you's,Y didn't you's,how could you's,ect...He still hasn't given me an acceptable answer!!LOL!Thank God today's a new day with a new bottle of wine...

  14. Thank you. Your words and readers' comments resonated: Just burst into tears thinking how my spouse loved fall, warm meals, actually enjoyed raking leaves, and loved his Christmas stocking which was lovingly made for him years ago. Boxes of ornaments given to each other over the years sit in the attic.
    Not a clue what to do this holiday--the first without this wonderful man.
    Life is forever changed. Maybe focusing on putting energy into the life I want (whatever that is!) instead of continuing living with routines of what was, may be what works for me, irrespective of dealing with the waves of grief. I hope so. Hugs to you all!