Reprinted from August 1996
I never thought much about becoming a widow because those things happen to someone else, not to me.
In one breath everything changes, like the little spaces you mark which say married, single, widowed or divorced.
I found myself staring at that “married” block tempted to check it rather than widowed because it offered a specific security to which I’d become accustomed.
It isn’t just the difficulty of adjusting to the loss of a man around the house. A woman has to adjust to society and her associates and friends as well.
It’s as if a widow wears a scarlet letter, an “S,” which is a sign or sticker that she is widowed and possibly many relationships will permanently change.
I became amused at some of the reactions.
I called an old friend, a jeweler, with whom R.B. and I had been friendly, but were never close or intimate friends. I mentioned that it was a difficult to be alone, which I found out was a mistake because this man immediately informed me he was married.
I thought, “Gee, I had a definite purpose for this phone call and it wasn’t to propose marriage, arrange a long distance date or make a pass. Why on Earth I am coming across this way?”
Another jeweler, young enough to be my son or grandson, told me quickly he was 32 years old.
Just think, I’ve lived all these years without meeting men and having them give me vital statistics before they say “hello.”
R.B. hadn’t been gone very long before people started giving me pointers on how to meet eligible men and how to act. It’s absolutely amazing to me that people assume a widow wants to meet anyone.
One woman suggested going to a singles bar or dances.
I wonder how many women my age work long and tedious hours all week and feel like dancing the light fantastic on the weekend?
By the time the weekend comes I feel like hiding from the public, instead of pretending to enjoy some round dance or a trip to the singles bar.
Another woman, who’d also decided my life could not be complete without a man, suggested I put an ad in the “People Seeking People” section of the newspaper.
Let’s see… I could word it like this:
Widow, 5 feet, 3 inches tall, set in ways, retail oriented, works 60 hours a week, attends church, does not baby sit, smoke or drink, like to eat but not cook, wants to meet widower or single man of similar age.
Must have nice car, not smoke, love my four dogs, not have a cat, not wear a Timex or other cheap watch, be able to cook decent meals and must be financially secure in that he will not want to be supported.
Must be willing to let me read the paper first and select the television programs we watch. Must like yard work, be willing to wash the car, love my neighbors and get along with my children. Must not dote constantly if he has children or grandchildren.
Prefer a man in excellent health or good medical plan. Good looks are a plus. Balding men acceptable.
Must enjoy Andy Rooney and like to rent movies. Swearing not permitted. Height of 5’ 6” or taller preferred. Extra point if Rolex repairman. Political views must be similar to mine. Hobbies can include hot air ballooning, 4×4 driving, photography and reading.
In exchange, you will get a shy, unopinionated, hard working, slightly overweight woman with slightly graying hair. One who is open minded with a marvelous disposition. One who wakes up only slightly disgruntled on occasion and meets each day with gusto after three cups of coffee and sitting on the edge of the bed for 30 minutes thinking about whether to lay back down and give in, or get up and get on with it.
One who will never be later for dinner because of a late customer, or won’t be late very often.
I believe any man who might qualify for this job opening would be made in Heaven and I assume, that is where R.B. is right now.
Since I don’t expect to ever find Mr. Wonderful – having lost the only one cast into that mold – I don’t think I’ll run the ad.
I have been told all marriages end in death or divorce, and thus this one did also.
There were many times I considered murder as a solution to our problems, but never, never, divorce.