My Octo’s sudden demise was like another wayward wind in my life. It blew in and blew out, and once again, I’m in the corner of Healthy and Happy, amazingly standing upright, with not a tress of silver hair out of place. It happens when the serial widow believes she can walk on water from the eye of the storm across to dry land. It’s all in the head!
I’ve had 2 blood tests in the CO-1686 non-trial without Octo. By the way, both times, Dr Brevity assured me, Labs are good. In Octo’s place as caregiver was my baby sister who is 7 years younger than me, size petite small, colors her shiny page-boy hair squid-ink black, wears junior style fashion, and dances like Emmitt Smith should be tossing her up in the air in Dancing with the Stars. But I have an edge: I am a retired successful professional engineer. Big deal. She is a retired successful attorney! Ah, I remember, Youth’s inexperience is no match to the cunning of old age.
In the 60’s and 70’s I was a young chick pioneering in the engineering world which was then controlled by men. As such, I encountered one spirit-crushing setback after another after another. It was in those years that I learned to vacate an adversarial situation quickly, let the past run through cleanly, conserve energy for the next battle, and eventually win the war. Becoming a widow again 12 years after the first widowhood would require the same modus operandi if I choose to enjoy the stroll on the last mile of my life. And that’s what I choose. Sulking is so not me. Thus, the motivation behind this post: I’ve accumulated so many nuggets of wisdom over a huge slice of a century that it would be a crying shame if I did not share them with those who give a damn. I am also kind of running out of justifications for my narcissism!
A few days after Octo’s death, my sister and three of my best girl friends flew or drove in from Dallas, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque to distract me from the isolation of grieving. Upon their arrival, I noticed their furtive glances the first time I blasted a flattening laugh. Is this a grieving widow in need of distraction? They must have wondered.
The ladies discovered that I have reinvented myself as Interior Designer Extraordinaire. For a complete change of atmosphere, I bought a tiny house. For the first time in my life, here is a house that is clearly mine, not my husband’s and mine or ours. It’s all mine to play with and in. It reflects only my taste, which we do have to redefine taste.
In the Great Room, my bffs and I did my yoga poses together and delighted in the sounds of bones creaking. Let’s go dancing, They offered after scouring the social activities in the newspaper of the over-55 gated community where I reside in Southern Orange County, California. They did not have to drag me kicking and screaming.
To the dance we went. Thank goodness we have reached the age where the male-female partnering rule has been bagged. Amidst traditional dancing couples, we swung and swayed, boogied and chachaed until sweat beads formed on our foreheads. In between numbers we sipped water and ate cookies and raisins. Yes, raisins in tiny corrugated paper cups. What were the refreshment committee members thinking? Soon, the dance event ended. It was 9:00 pm! It happens when too many old people populate a retirement place and they need to be in the snoring mode long before midnight.
The next item on the agenda was to establish a new routine, to find a group of fun people, those who share each other’s interest. The village boasts 200+ clubs and organizations that cater to all possible interests of humans and animals. Dancers, knitters, bible thumpers, cat lovers, Republicans, horseback riders, photographers, health buffs, grievers, bridge players, ham radio operators. Name it, the village has it.
The Foodies Club got my attention. In its welcome material, the club defines a Foodie in a long, drawn-out manner, which translates to a person who is extremely interested in food. I attended a meeting to scope the club out. For an hour, while eating gourmet ice cream topped with a concoction chosen from an array, I listened to reports on existing restaurants closing, new restaurants opening, food service businesses for the home-bound, curious, or lazy, or all three, and an announcement about an upcoming Moroccan dinner. The Foodies seemed a happy lot but they are no match to Cannabis Club members in the giddy department.
Whichever groups I decide to entertain myself with will have to wait. Before I settle down to a new routine, I’m spending time with family and friends who have been very supportive. I’ll also re-establish old connections that had been disrupted. Then back to Southern Orange County for retirement resort living at its best. So the commercial says.
Bottom line: It’s all in the head. I can be as isolated or as involved as I choose. All I do is get a mindset, then say, Let’s do this!