Thursday, May 26, 2011

Excuses to Get Any Widow Out of Unwanted Memorial Day Events

Anyone else feel like Memorial Day is kind of the season opener for family events that you’re expected to go to...that you’d really rather skip?

I’ve determined that there are really two family seasons during the year:  Winter and Summer.  Winter...’cause we have to deal with Christmas, Hanukkah, and holidays that should make us feel grateful but really make us feel like we want to run over an innocent by-stander in the grocery store parking lot (we’re aiming for the turkey, but the person who’s holding it just gets in the way).  And summer because it’s a time for baseball games, picnics, and beer drinking with the neighbors in the driveway. 

None of those things are as much fun without a partner involved.

It seems like during these two seasons, the expectations of the people around us don’t help either.  If you lost your spouse in February, I’m guessing that most of your support system is about ready for you to come out of your widow shell and join them at the next family bar-b-que.  And bring a bag of chips while you’re at it.

Don’t’re not alone.  It was the same for all of the people who lost their spouses in last fall.  By the end of November their families were calling and asking if they could make the cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. 

Since they hadn’t heard from you in awhile, they assumed you must be bored.

I see a lot of comments from newly widowed folks who are worried about offending their supporters by declining invitations to events that they really don’t want to go to.  I’m assuming it’s more of the newly widowed people because those of us who have been hanging out in the Widdahood for a long time...well...we could really give a crap.

Since I see you all worrying about this, I feel that it’s my duty to assist you in coming up with a list of possible excuses that you can use when faced with an event you would rather not go to.  I consider this list a public service and am therefore providing it free of charge.

  1. My kid just threw up everywhere.  (Now...this one is a no-brainer.  It’s about time those kids came in handy.  And don’t make the mistake of saying that they have a cough or a sore throat...because those die-hard entertainers will just tell you to bring them along.  Nope.  There has to be something gross and uncontrollable coming out of your kid.)
  1. My dog just threw up everywhere and the vet told me that I can’t leave him alone.  But I promise to come over and clean your carpets on Tuesday. (The only thing that could trump a puking child is a puking pet.  Letting your host know that your dog cannot be away from you while you figure out this mysterious illness is sure to win you a pass from the event.)
  1. This is the anniversary of when my spouse and I ______ and I think I need to celebrate in my own way.  (Now, you can fill in the blank however you would like, but the more uncomfortable the event the better.  Here are some suggestions:  consummated our relationship, had our first “swinging” experience, ate chili cheese dogs at the fair and had duel adverse reactions.  C’mon.  You’ve become a walking conversation stopper since your spouse died.  Surely you can think of something that will stop them in their tracks.)
  1. Since hamburgers were my spouse’s favorite food, I’ve decided that I can’t eat anything with a bun or anything that can possibly be put on a bun.  It’s just too painful for me.
  1. My therapist told me that it’s not good for my mental health to be around lit charcoal (if anything that will keep them guessing about what in the hell is the matter with you).
  1. I’m waiting for the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes to get here.  It’s amazing how I’ve burned through all of this life insurance!
  1. To commemorate the day, I have decided to wear American flags placed on my body in strategic places.  Are there going to be children at your party?
  1. I can’t wait!  Can I bring my bagpipes?  You wouldn’t believe how good I’ve gotten after just 2 lessons!!!
  1. I would, but my grief support group is meeting that day.  Hey!  I have an idea!  Why don’t I bring them all with me? 

And the number one reason you can give for not partaking in the Memorial Day festivities you’ve been invited to....


Have a good weekend everyone.  Love ya.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Took The Kids to Disney. Turns Out I Was The One Who Was Growing Up


I’m back.

I’m both proud and embarrassed to say that this last week has been the longest I have not blogged in over a year. say that I got through it.  And embarrassed because I had some withdrawals.

As some of you saw on Facebook, I lugged my computer on my vacation, only to find that where I was staying had no internet.  This was both a blessing and a curse.  I missed everyone...but I also spent some quality one-on-one time with my three kids.

It’s been an interesting week.  I brought my kids down to Disney World, a vacation that I have been working toward for years and wasn’t sure I would ever see:  Partly because it’s expensive and partly because I wasn’t sure if I could do it on my own.  But I’m lucky for two reasons:  One, I found an amazing deal, thanks to my travel agent (Endless Travel).  And two, because my parents agreed to go with me (I can’t put their link here because they haven’t worked out how they will hire themselves out yet).

We had a good time.  Actually...we had a great time.  Sure, we had the usual meltdowns and exhaustion.  But for the most part, we did okay.

And that’s what surprised me.

I posted something in the middle of the week about taking the kids to see a place where my husband and I once lived.  It was actually the first house we had together as a married couple.  I booked an extra day for us in Florida to see our old “stomping grounds” in Satellite Beach (and for my Brevard County friends...I apologize that we couldn’t meet.  But we were literally there for a few hours).  I wanted to show them where their dad worked, where we lived, and the places we loved to go to when we were there.  But it had all changed so much...that I couldn’t.

The biggest change was that our house on the Air Force base was gone.  Not just gone...but gone.  Even the roads had been taken out. 

It was like it was never there.

I kept waiting all day for that to bother me.  Once again, I showed the kids a piece of our past that had been taken away or that they couldn’t imagine.  I tried to point out the launch pads that they couldn’t see.  I tried to make them understand memories they weren’t there for.  And I tried to get them excited about seeing a place that meant so much.

But it didn’t mean much.  It didn’t mean much to them.  It meant a lot to me.

I have spent a few months both looking forward and dreading this week.  Being at Disney World with a lot of “complete” families and wondering if that would bother me.  But I think that (as a lot of you will understand)’s the anticipation of the event that’s the worst.  Once it was actually just was and I lived in the moment.

At some point during the week, I stopped fighting the unwelcome feelings and just let them in.  I’m learning that fighting it only makes it worse.  Letting it all wash over you acknowledges where you’ve been.  And sometimes....where you’re going.

As with anything, including the “enemy” grief:  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

I don’t know if anyone else will understand this...but this week was HUGE for me.  I took my kids on a “family” vacation...and I didn’t question every 2 seconds...what would he do if he could be here?  I was okay with living in the moment and just having a good time.  I suddenly had the feeling that I was living my life.  And not trying to live what could have been.

I spent a week completely grateful for every moment, without regret.  Without sadness.  Without a ghost.

I saw where my husband and I first shared a home...gone.  Completely if it had never been there.  But it didn’t matter.  Because I knew it had.

And no one else has to understand the magnitude of any of that.   

But I do.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You Don't Have To Have Children To Appreciate Mother's Day

To me, Mother’s Day is a day when we should appreciate someone in our lives who has made a difference and really contributed to who we’ve become.  That could be our mothers, or it could be someone you’re related to by choice...not by blood.

The bottom line is...Mother’s Day is as good a time as any to tell someone close to you what they mean to you.  If any of these apply to someone you know...thank them this weekend. 

  1. Someone who has taught you that class and beauty don’t have to cost a dime.
  2. Someone who has shown you unconditional support.
  3. Someone who thinks you’re the best...even when you’re at your worst.
  4. Someone you can’t wait to tell the good and the bad to.
  5. Someone who waits to roll their eyes until you leave.
  6. Someone who made you walk a mile to school and back (even in snow).  Well...that could’ve just been me.  But apparently it was a character builder.  Or a subject for another blog.
  7. Someone who lives with someone (or something) else they have to clean up after when they’re really not feeling like it (who’s ever up for that?).
  8. Someone who worries about you when you leave.
  9. Someone who just inspires you to be the person you’re supposed to be.
  10. Someone who you know that when the going gets tough...they’re not going anywhere.

Show someone a little appreciation this weekend.  Just say, “I’m so glad I know you.”  Or, “You look pretty today.”  Or, “Thanks for bailing me out of jail last night.”

Appreciation is a gift that costs nothing but worth more than you’ll ever know.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Where Were You?

I’m pretty sure there is not one adult in America who doesn’t remember where they were on September 11, 2001.  The moments that we hear news that will change our lives...they are not easily forgotten. 

The last few days have been interesting.  Of course, thanks to media saturation, we can’t escape constant news about the killing of Osama bin Laden.  And although we keep hearing about “celebrations” across the country, the feeling I get from the people I’m in contact with is a more cautious acknowledgment that this has happened, with an underlying fear that something else could be on the horizon because we’ve finally accomplished what we set out to do.

In other words...most people think this may be the end of a chapter, but not the story.

September 11th is a part of each of our stories (more for some than others).  The number of people who were lost that day and since the war would be almost impossible for each US citizen to not be affected by loss in some way.  At the very least, we all lost a world that we felt pretty comfortable with up until then.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I had no idea how much would change after that.  My oldest daughter had been born a week earlier and my dad had just flown in to meet his first grandbaby.  Just a few days before 9/11, we picked him up from the airport with a days-old baby, so excited that to be together and celebrate that moment.  While we were at the airport, the fire alarm went off in the baggage claim area.  No one was worried.  No one really did much of anything. 

A few days later, an alarm in an airport would forever mean something different.

On September 10th, I was in a car accident.  I was with my mom and even though my car was totaled, thanks to the carload of teenagers that had plowed into us, we both got away with minor scrapes and bruises.  And in my pre-9/11 state...I thought surely that would be the worst thing that could happen. 

The next morning, I stretched out in the nursery with that warm little newborn body next to me.  I was sore and trying to hold her without aggravating the burn marks on my arms from the airbags when my mom walked in and said, “We’ve been attacked.”

I will my new-mom, sleep deprived stupor, I really didn’t understand what she meant. 

I’m sure that what happened next is what probably 99% of America did:  We stayed glued to the television (until we finally couldn’t watch it anymore).  We scrambled to find out who we knew in the affected areas and double checked to make sure they were okay.  And we felt a sickening shock when we found out who wasn’t.

Stepping outside on 9/11, I remember thinking how completely eerie it was, not hearing any airplanes in the sky.

Being a former military man (and still working in the defense industry), my husband knew exactly what this could mean.  I started to get a hint of it when I had to call my insurance company that day about my car accident the night before and had a long conversation with a stranger on the phone, telling me that she was just terrified that her husband would have to go to war now.

I still wonder what happened to them.

It’s no surprise to me now that I went into some sort of postpartum funk after that.  I didn’t know it was going on at the time, but I can see it now.  Bringing a new baby into the world and then wondering how you can possibly protect her is a lot to take.  My husband started traveling more after that, for longer periods of time and there was never a moment that I would kiss him goodbye at the door when I didn’t wonder if it would be for the last time.  Things changed, and it baffled me to think that my daughter would never know what the world was like before 9/11.

Not being able to walk someone to the gate at the airport.

Not being able to think of 9/11 as just a date on the calendar anymore.

Not being able to ignore that fact that bad things can happen to good, unsuspecting people.

I am not a very political person.  I never get into debates with people about what’s going on in the world because, frankly, I don’t feel educated enough.  Nothing makes me crazier than when people who don’t know what they’re talking about speak as though what they’re saying is fact.

So I choose not to be one of those people.

But as just a random, joe-schmoe citizen, I can agree with those who say they’re relieved that the world is short one Osama bin Laden, but can’t in good conscience celebrate the death of another human being.  I don’t need to see coverage of where he was killed or how they hunted him down.  I don’t need to watch interviews of the 9/11 widows where the interviewer expects them to say they now have “closure”...when we all know that is just a myth. 
I don’t want to know if killing a terrorist will be a career boost for the President.

I would rather keep honoring and remembering those good people we lost on that day and in the years since, rather than give power to the memory of a man who has brought so much pain to so many.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011