Have you known someone who seemed to hurry too fast into his or her next relationship? I know a man who, when he got divorced, remarried the same day his divorce was final. The new marriage failed, but he remarried very quickly. It seemed as if he was in too big a hurry to get remarried to take the time to get to know his potential spouse.
Another friend-of-a-friend was widowed, remarried an old girlfriend a few months later, and came to regret the fact that he really did not know the old girlfriend as well as he thought. Apparently, anyone can fool you into thinking they are someone they are not for at least a short period of time.
One of my divorced business friends met a guy in a bar and married him three weeks later. He swept her off her feet, and eventually swept away with a lot of her money.
This is not to say that fast marriages don’t work. One of the couples I know from church married 13 days after they met and have been happily married for 64 + years. My own parents met on a blind date, got engaged three days later, married seven months later, and were happy together for 67 1/2 years (my mother died).
What do you think of marrying quickly? Has it worked out for you? What advice would you give someone who is considering “rushing in where angels fear to tread?” I would love to hear your thoughts.
Are you thinking about buying a new home, perhaps in Florida? The property you have picked out looks like a lovely place and has all the amenities you could hope for but, wait, it also has a HOA. If you have never dealt with a Home Owners’ Association, you need to be aware of a couple of things.
You will need permission from the HOA to do almost anything on the outside of your house. If you want to paint, the color will have to be approved. If you need a tree cut down, you will need to get a green light from the HOA. If you have work done, you will have to do it within the time frame that the HOA documents state. That is actually good news, since it prevents your neighbors from painting their house purple with orange spots, keeps them from cutting down a historic tree, and stops them from taking five years to re-side the house.
Now for the bad news: when I worked for a builder in South Jersey, the HOA monthly fee was a pretty reasonable $25 a month. But that was because the builder supplemented the HOA fee of every homeowner. As soon as the builder moved out and moved on, the HOA fee was going to double or possibly triple. While $25 times whatever does not seem like much, what if the monthly fee had been several hundred dollars?
Before you buy that perfect new home, check into the track record of HOA fees for the property and the builder. What is the actual expected monthly fee? Can you afford it? Do you want to pay that much? It might be better to purchase a slightly-older home with few or no amenities, rather than pay an exorbitant monthly fee for as long as you own the house. Do you really need a shuffleboard court? Will you ever use the tennis courts? Do you even LIKE saunas?
Let’s do the math here- get a new house in a brand new subdivision, pay $1000 a month (or more) forever to have a pool that the HOA owns and everyone in the area uses, or buy an older house and get a pool installed that you will own, once you pay for it. Food for thought.
Let me tell you a story about a widower I once knew. He was married for many years to a woman who bore him one child, a son. She died in her early 60s of lung disease caused by years of smoking. He remarried but things did not work out with wife #2 and the couple got divorced after just a few years. A couple of years later, he remarried again. This time it seemed like things would work out but one day he was diagnosed with a chronic disease that would eventually lead to death. His new wife (number 3) called the man’s sister and told her, “Come take care of him. I’m not going to do it.”
The sister obeyed, taking care of the now-elderly man until he died a few months later. After the funeral, wife #3 told the son to come over to the house. He did and was led to a room where three used sports shirts were laying on the bed. He was told that he could have one of them to remember his father by. He picked one and was informed that the shirt was his total inheritance. Wife #3 got everything else. A few months after that, wife #3’s daughter had her declared incompetent by the state and the daughter took everything her mother had claimed as hers. As a result of not having a prenuptial agreement, the son got nothing but a threadbare shirt; a daughter who barely knew the elderly man ended up with all of his worldly goods.
While I do not usually care for prenuptial agreements, there are times when they come in handy. I am not a lawyer and do not pretend to be one, but if you intend to re-marry, you better make sure that your kids are provided for and that you carefully consider what you are about to do. “Marry in haste, repent at leisure” as the old saying goes.
What stories can you share about remarriages? I would love to hear from you!
Yesterday, my Internet service failed. When calling the wonderful folks at BHN, I was connected with a young man who was blessed with horrid diction, a soft-spoken manner, and a rapid-fire delivery. Things went downhill from there.
After a few minutes of attempting to interpret what he was saying, I came to realize that he was asking for my husband’s security questions or the last four digits of my hubby’s driver’s license. I had neither. The thing is, I do not sign on the account, and the service man assumed the worst in my request to get Internet service restored to the condo. I do not know what he thought I planned on doing, but apparently it wasn’t good.
Things continued to deteriorate as he basically inferred that I was the source of the problem. Somehow, I had managed to interrupt my own Internet service……but it was unclear what I had done to cause this. After about 15 minutes of increasing frustration, I hung up. Immediately, I got a call from BHN, asking me to answer a brief survey. Oh, did I have things to tell them!
After answering their questions and re-living my frustration over the experience, I (still Internet-less) called them back. This time, I was connected with a fantastic fellow named Stan whose greatest desire was to return my Internet service. He wanted no driver’s license number or security questions; he merely wanted to serve my Internet needs. Bless his heart! We were up and running in less than 5 minutes.
Have you ever faced a similar problem? I would love to hear about your experiences.
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I conducted a very informal survey today and here is what some of the folks told me:
A very hard-working (and very slender) friend said that she resolves each year to “see more movies, eat more chocolate, and have more fun.” Life is short!
An elderly gentleman at the mall said he resolves to “stay alive.” A noble thought, there!
His wife said she resolves to “be happy.” She always seemed happy to me, but perhaps not.
Their coffee-drinking companion said that he doesn’t have any resolutions but that the additional walkers at the mall and at his health club apparently did. He wonders how long their resolutions will last. Things will settle down, he said, and in a few weeks he will have better access the to machines at his club.
My banker said she resolves not to resolve anything. She doesn’t like the idea of being stuck with resolutions only once a year, as if you can’t start any new lifestyle change at any time other than January. She said that if you want to do something new, just do it. Sounds a bit like a Nike ad!
What about your own resolutions? Perhaps you need to resolve to forgive the former spouse that hurt you or forgive yourself for what you see as your own failure to notice that your loved one was ill before it was too late. Maybe your resolution needs to concern your memories regarding your handling of the aftermath of that divorce or passing. Perhaps you need to resolve that you will drop the browbeating you have been giving yourself and move on. Whatever your resolutions, or lack thereof, I hope that 2017 is a better year than 2016.
Today’s blog may seem a bit unusual for Christmas Day but I wanted to share with you a recent experience with an elderly relative. He lives alone, following the death of his beloved wife two + years ago. He was put on Flomax three months ago, but unknown to his other relatives, he did not tell them that he also started taking a “vitamin” for sleeplessness at the same time.
Sadly, the “vitamin’s” side effects mimicked the side effects for Flomax and he ended up catatonic. Fortunately, his daughter was with him when his problem emerged and she was able to call 911. He recovered completely, after almost two days in the hospital.
The lesson here is: let your family members and your doctors know everything that you take. We wasted valuable diagnostic time by not knowing until day two that he was taking a sleep aid. He could have died, but we are very thankful that, once we realized what the problem was, he could be treated.
This might be an unexpected blog posting, but have you thought about sending notes to folks who are ill? You may have gotten a lot of letters or emails or phone calls from others during your time of bereavement, but you can now be a blessing to someone else. Who knows better than you do what the other person is going through? Your thoughtful comments would mean so much to someone who is hurting.
Here are some tips on how to approach this:
You do not need a fancy, pre-printed card. Food stores (like Safeway, in my neck of the woods) carry blank greeting cards that are available by the packet. I buy some pretty cards in bulk and then send them out as the need arises (it always arises).
Do not tell the other person “I know exactly how you feel.” Obviously, you don’t, but you can share your own personal experience that is similar to what they are facing. Do not make this all about yourself, however.
Mention what the person is experiencing (“I heard that you recently lost your (mother, sister, husband, whoever) and wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers”). You can then tell the individual about your own connection to their grief (“I remember when John walked out, and understand what that feels like….”). Offer assistance, if you wish (“I would love to come over and cook dinner for you on Tuesday night….”) or just let the friend know that you are available (“I am here if you would like to talk about this or if you just want to have a cup of coffee sometime”). Close the note with assurances (“This is a difficult time but …”). Do not tell the person that he or she will laugh about it some day. There might not be any laughing about this for years, especially if John wiped her out financially when he left to go live with that hussy.
This is not something that takes a lot of time, but it can really be an encouragement to the other person. It can also help with your own healing, as you reach out to someone else who is going through difficult circumstances right now.
It’s that time of year and you need to decide if you are going to write your usual Christmas letter. Here are a few suggestions for doing it, if you chose to share recent happenings with family and friends:
Please try to stay upbeat, as much as possible. Yes, you need to share the news with friends who may not know your situation, but you need to be positive in the midst of tragedy. [Translation: tell me that your spouse is gone or has died but don’t tell me the details of the final illness or how he or she walked out on you as if it was the “get out of my house” scene between Charles and Helen in Diary of a Mad Black Woman.] If I am a very close friend, I already know what happened.
Please share fond memories of your lost spouse. Do you remember the time…..? What did you do when …………………happened? What happened the time you went to…….. and how did you both respond to that incident? How did you meet your spouse?
Please share how life has changed this past year. I know a widower who has taken advantage of the opportunity to travel, now that his very beloved wife who was so ill is gone. He visits family and friends who he hasn’t seen in a long while and is a real blessing in the midst of his sorrow. Share with me about any trips you have taken and how the kids and grandchildren are.
Please tell me about any plans you have for the coming year. You have something to look forward to- what is it? Remember that, as someone who is close enough to be receiving this letter, I care about you. I have been praying for you and want to hear that you are coming through this difficult time.
I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday. Next in line is Christmas, as you all well know. This can be a very stressful time of year as you travel alone to places known for entertaining families. I travel to Florida once a month to help out my dad and I have found it very lonely to see all the families together, excited about going to see a large rodent, while I am totally alone. Here’s how I cope with the situation:
I find a nuclear family waiting at the same gate as my flight and engage them in conversation. It helps that I was an original cast member at Walt Disney World, since this lets me talk to them about their upcoming trip to see Mickey and the gang. Their eyes get big and I share some tidbit of what it was like to work for the mouse (it was fun!). This makes them feel good about their decision to go there and it gives me someone to talk to while we are waiting, without being creepy.
What if you have never worked in the place you are traveling to? Well, perhaps you could compliment the parents on how well-behaved their kids are or what intelligence they demonstrate (this works when little kids have a good vocabulary- studies show that it is a sign of intelligence). Parents will not generally stop you from talking when you are complimenting their kids! Do be sincere- don’t fake it. This will keep your mind off of your situation while allowing you to make a new but temporary friend.
I do not suggest striking up a conversation with someone who might misinterpret your friendliness, if you get my drift. Do not talk to children who are alone, though I once found it nice to talk to non-custodial parents about their young child who was flying alone. I promised to keep an eye on the child while making a point of not sitting with her on the plane. I gave the teary-eyed child a big “thumbs up” as I boarded the flight; she smiled because I was a familiar face by then. I did not see her again until the end of the flight, but she was happy to know that she knew someone on board.
I hope this helps and pray that you have a lovely holiday season.
It is coming up on a very difficult time of year for those who have recently lost their spouses, but let’s take a moment to talk about whether or not you should do anything special to decorate your home for Christmas.
It may seem like you are being unfaithful to your spouse’s memory if you decorate and find joy in the coming season. I understand those feelings, having lost my first spouse right after Christmas. I had a small son, however, and felt that the decorations were necessary to give him some sense of normalcy at a time when not much else felt that way.
If you can at all manage to do it, decorating can be a way to step back into a somewhat “new normal” and I encourage you to at least consider doing it, even in a small way. Perhaps you don’t feel up to setting up a tree but maybe the nativity set and some garland might be manageable. You might not want to get out the Christmas china but maybe a goofy mug might cheer your day a bit.
Whatever you decide, I pray that this coming Christmas will be a blessing to you.