As some of you may have read, the last couple weeks has been a full time for me. It started with my birthday on Valentine's Day February 14th, then came one of my widow friend's husband's birthdays on February 18th, and finished up with my wife's birthday on February 24th.
My birthday/Valentine's Day dinner was provided by my son and his wife at their house. With my son and his wife's blessing, I invited my two widowed neighbor ladies to it. It helped me get through the celebration easier because of them. I think as most of you probably know, each week, the three of us, get together and have dinner together. We take turns on who does the cooking and at which house we do it at. There are three of us in our little exclusive group, one widow about my age of 73, an older widow of 89, and myself. Fortunately or unfortunately, our little group all understands what it is like to be widowed. The older lady lost her husband a little over two years ago and the younger lady lost her husband just over seven months ago, less than a month before I lost my wife. My birthday dinner went very well and I got through it without tears.
That week was my turn to cook dinner, but since we had dinner on Thursday, my birthday, I thought maybe I could sneak out of doing it that week. However, the younger lady wanted to have a dinner by ourselves so that we could have more quiet time and talk about some of the things that just us widows talk about. I asked her if she would like a birthday celebration dinner on her husband's birthday, February 18th and I volunteered to do the cooking. It was his first birthday that she hadn't been with him in over 50 years. She said she'd like that and that she'd bring her husband's favorite dessert, vanilla ice cream with Amaretto, over it. I wrote a special birthday memorial to her husband and read it at the dinner. We had a nice dinner and then the special dessert. There were a few tears, but there were also a few smiles. Overall, the birthday dinner celebration went very well and I think it helped me as much or more than it helped my two friends. BTW, both of my friends and I are slowly becoming more and more family. The older lady says this is the best thing that has happened to her since her husband died. She is still able to drive and goes to church every week and does other things, but she says those things are just not the same as the dinners and being considered part of our family.
I haven't mentioned it before, but I am hard of hearing and wear a hearing aid on one ear and have a Cochlear Implant (CI) on the other. With the two of them, I can hear fairly well. With only the hearing aid, I'm nearly deaf. When I got up Friday morning, February 22nd, my CI wouldn't work with full volume. The volume was way down and no matter what I checked, it didn't get any better. I tried to make an appointment to get it checked out, but was told that they were too busy and I'd have to wait till my appointment which was already scheduled for Monday. I thought, oh great, now I have to face my wife's birthday dinner celebration in two days and I can't hear very well. but I was determined to not let my wife down and figured I'd do the best I could.
Sunday, February 24th, was my wife's first birthday without me in over 52 years. I again volunteered to cook dinner and take care of everything. I figured it's my wife's birthday and I have to do like I'd done through all the years. The two ladies thought that would be nice and the younger one said she'd bring the new special dessert that I'd suggested we should serve at all of our special occasions we have in the future and both ladies thought that would be nice. I told both ladies about my hearing problem and they said they didn't care to just do the best I could.
I wanted my wife's 72nd birthday to be special. So, before dinner, I played my guitar and sang "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" to my wife. (The two ladies had never heard me play or sing so it was definitely a surprise to them. I wasn't sure I could do it, but I told myself that I had written a song and sang it to my wife at our 50th Anniversary. And, I thought, if I could do it in front a nearly a hundred people, I surely could do it in front of just two people. I had sang to my wife before on special occasions like her birthday and I felt I had to do it.) I had rewritten some of the words to include the two ladies husbands in the song. Next, I read the birthday memorial I had written. Although, this was a birthday celebration for my wife, I wanted to make sure that the two ladies and their husbands were included. I thought maybe I could help them a little at the same time that we were celebrating my wife's birthday. In the memorial, I talked a lot about my wife, my two widow friends, their husbands, how our animals were helping us, and how our animals also missed the ones that had died. I asked that our departed loved ones give us guidance as we proceeded on down this highway, called life. (The week before, the older lady called me and told me that what she missed the most of all from her husband was physical hugs.) So, near the end of what I wrote, I asked us all to close our eyes and to remember the hugs and see if just maybe they would reach down to us and give us a hug. We all shed a few tears and afterwards, we shed a few sad hugs. But there were also smiles and we're not sure we didn't actually feel the hugs while we had our eyes closed.
After dinner, while the two ladies were talking, I decided to try something with the younger ladies dog, Andrew.
I knew that Andrew had spent a lot of time on the couch with the ladies husband during the last six years of his life and battle with cancer. During the dinner, Andrew had been acting nervous and seemed like he was anxious to leave. While the two ladies talked, I excused myself and went into the front room and sat down on the couch and called Andrew and patted my leg and the couch. I was a little surprised, but he came right in, got up on the couch, and laid his head on my leg. I petted him and hugged him! Andrew looked more relaxed than he has in months. I called for the two ladies to come look. Both of them couldn't believe it when they saw him laying on the couch with his head on my leg. I told them that I believed that, like us, Andrew also needed a hug.
So, I got through all of this actually easier than I thought I would, especially since my hearing was down. I think a lot of it, is that I had the help of my two friends. I focused not just on my wife's birthday, but also on trying to help them which, in turn, helped me.
My younger widow neighbor and I are slowly working our way through all the firsts! The one big one we have left is our Anniversaries, but I feel that with us helping each other we'll be able to make it. A couple things I learned this week was that even people, like my older neighbor lady that have been widowed for a year or more, still miss the hugs even when they don't mention it! I thought that because she'd always appeared so happy and hardly ever mentioned her husband, that she had gotten over most of the grieving. But I found that no matter what the outer appearance, inside she still has a missing place in her heart, and I'm sure always will. The other thing that stood out was that animals can feel a lot of the loss too and they need a hug just like us.
Yesterday, I got a CI loner, because my CI was broken, and I was able to hear better with it than I have in a long time. I was very happy and I stopped by both of my friend's houses and said you know last night I got sad hugs, but today I can hear and I'd like a happy hug. I am happy to say that I was given warm happy hugs.
From my warm happy hugs to all of you on WV, I hope you get a warm hug and a smile today! It's something I think we all need! Stan