: Widows & Widowers

Money, Money, Money

Hi Everyone:

I was talking with a gal not so very long ago- a widow who had an attorney who wanted her to sign all of her money over to him. Fortunately, she took her time getting back to the attorney and talked the idea over with a trusted male friend, first.

“NO!!!” he shouted. “Do not EVER sign over your money to someone else’s care.” It turned out that several widows in that area had done that, with this very same attorney, and he left them bereft.

She demurred and still has her money today. Folks, and especially ladies, you may have been taught as a young woman to always submit to male power figures in your life, so that they could “take care of you.”

It’s time to put your big girl pants on. Yes, you may have had your financial interests “taken care of” by your significant other, but now you are on your own, sweetheart. Nobody cares for your money like you should.

Yes, I know that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Copy that, friends. Gotcha. I am not suggesting hoarding money or becoming a penny pincher. Nope.

What I am telling you is that you no longer have the protection of a male, most likely. You have to become financially savvy and you have to do it pronto. (Gentlemen, perhaps your wife always took care of the finances, so I don’t mean to exclude you, but my years of business experience and interactions with many wives at home decorating parties showed me that some of these women could not spend $5 without asking for their husband’s permission (which was never, ever granted), so bear with me here.

Double-check figures from all sources. Balance your checkbook. Keep track of expenses. When you get any legal documents, double-check those figures and do not be afraid to ask questions, even if you have to ask more than once.

You could be talking about a substantial chunk of change here, so you absolutely must be vigilant about the whole thing. Be nice, be firm, and get your questions answered. Keep asking until you understand what’s happening.

Nobody else will care as much as you do. Nobody else is going to be responsible for paying your bills. You are going to have to pay your way, and you may have to do so for the rest of your life. Ask, ask, ask, and be like the squeaky wheel until you get the answers you need. You’ve got this!

Do you have any suggestions to offer my readers on how you have handled this? I would love for you to share some tips that have worked for you. That way, we can learn from one another. Thanks in advance.


Dr. Sheri

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Lawn Mowers versus You

Hello everyone:

Lawn mowers are necessary evils, if you have a lawn. I once talked to a suddenly single gal who had no problem with lawn mowers, but she considered the weed wacker to be a frightening instrument of torture. She asked her brother or father to come over and use it for her, she was so frightened of it.

But what about lawn mowers? I have never used one, always having had a father, brother, husband, or son whose job it was to keep our lawn looking nice. For this blog, I turned to my nephew, who owns a landscaping business.

If you have your own lawn mower, make sure you know where the repair shop is before you need it! Your mower takes regular gas, unless otherwise noted. You also need to make sure that the mower has engine oil. The type of oil you will need depends on the type of mower that you have; google your kind of mower, if you cannot find the owner’s manual. The mower itself should have a sticker that tells you what kind of oil it takes, if the mower is clean enough for you to read it.

If your mower needed service, how would you get it to the shop? You need to figure this out before the lawn mower gives you problems. Would you use a small trailer, or would you seek out a repair shop that makes house calls? The former might be excessively bothersome and the latter might be unavailable in your area. I suggest googling this, to see what type of service is in your location.

Make sure that whoever services your lawn mower is reputable. We once had a friend do the service, trying to help him get started in his own business. After spending a couple hundred dollars with the man, my hubby took the mower home, used it to mow one line of grass in our yard, and the mower stopped. Permanently. Since a friend had fixed it, he was too embarrassed to say anything, so he took the mower to the dump and bought a new one. Friends are wonderful but sometimes they are not the best choice for getting something fixed.

One way to forestall any challenges is for your mower to have regular checkups. Your regular service for the mower includes changing the oil, changing the sparkplugs, sharpening the blades, getting the mower winterized if it will be sitting unused for more than one month, and draining the gas when the mower is not going to be used for a while. 

You need to have a trusted friend or neighbor that you can ask about the mower and its needs. Find him or her now, pre-need. Then get a professional to take care of your mower.


Dr. Sheri

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Tools are Great Tools: Focusing on Wrenches and Screwdrivers

Hello everyone:

Wrenches: These are not Renaissance Festival Gals

Wrenches, according to Wikipedia, are used to “provide grip and mechanical advantage in applying torque to turn objects- usually rotary fasteners such as nuts and bolts- or to keep them from turning.”  While they may sound similar to those barely-dressed women at Renaissance Festivals (aka wenches), they are not. You need to have one or two on hand (the tools, not the scantily-clad women), in case of mechanical difficulties.

Wrenches would be helpful to have in your tool box, if you need to put something together, such as furniture or a bike, and if you need to be able to hold onto something with one hand and turn something else with the other hand.

Wrenches give you enough strength (aka torque) to tighten the bolts well enough so that the baby seat that you put on the back of your bicycle doesn’t leave the baby dumped out on the street when the whole thing falls apart because you didn’t use a wrench to put it together correctly.

(Yes, I did put one together many moons ago, but I used a wrench, did it correctly, and my son never got unceremoniously chucked into the street. For that, he was extremely grateful and I was greatly relieved.)

Screwdrivers: Don’t Use Them As Chisels

Screwdrivers are good for screwing and unscrewing screws. They should not be used as chisels or crowbars because that will damage the tip of the screwdriver.

This means that, when you go to use the screwdriver as a screwdriver, it won’t work because it will no longer fit into the place where it needs to go.

If you need a chisel for something, buy a chisel. If you need a crowbar to get into something, buy a crowbar. Don’t use your beloved screwdriver.

Use the screwdriver to tighten and loosen screws. If you use a screwdriver in place of a crowbar, you can damage the shaft, making it useless.

Two of the most common types of screwdrivers are the Phillips head screwdriver which looks like a star on the tip and the flat head screwdriver looks, well, flat. Look at whatever it is you wish to screw to see what type of screwdriver it will need.

Please note that screwdrivers come in different sizes; the screwdriver you use to fix your eye glasses is not the same size that you would use to fasten the screws on the picnic table you are putting together, for example.

Use caution when using a screwdriver because it can slip off whatever you are using it to screw on (or off) and end up puncturing your skin. (Voice of experience.) Take your time and don’t rush things.


Dr. Sheri

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Dressers are Just Hunks of Wood

Hello everyone:

How are you going to divide your personal property among your children? A woman I know lost her mother after a brief illness. The elderly woman had not told her daughters who she wanted to have her chest of drawers; it apparently had not occurred to her that all three of her girls wanted it.

One of the daughters removed the dresser from her mother’s home; the others have spent years trying to get it away from her. They refuse to speak to one another; they do not invite each other to family gatherings and they no longer talk on the phone.

The sisters are missing the rest of each other’s lives because none of them is willing to back down. It may have been important at one time, but it really is just a piece of wood, when it comes right down to it.

Would a compromise be possible, such as “you have the dresser one year and I will take it the next year”? Whoever survives the longest gets to keep the dresser. This is kind of like musical chairs, with the prize being the dresser.  

Speaking of wood, I once had a decorating customer who was upset about some wooden sconces. The finish wasn’t quite right, so she thought she would call me…on Christmas Day! Folks, again, this is just wood. Yes, I took care of her but, really, calling a independent consultant on Christmas???

Again, this is just some wood. The really important things in life aren’t things. They are people. I told one of my dear friends the other day that the most important people in my life are my family: my sons, their wives, my grandsons, and my siblings and their spouses and children. Of course, my father is still a very important part of my life, as well. Without our family and friends, we might as well pack it in, as they say.

You may have lost your spouse to death, disease, or divorce, and my heart goes out to you. But what (or, more vitally, who) is still in your life? Embrace them and love them. Be grateful for those who love and care for you. Thank God every day that they are a part of your life.

You know, we are going through transitions, you and I. Things can get pretty scary and lonely but we are going to make it!


Dr. Sheri

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Chicken Stew Just For You

Hi everyone:

I am not known for my gourmet cooking abilities. But, and this is huge, I have a chicken stew recipe to share with you today.

Yes, this is not normally the place for recipes, but I just cooked for only the third time since I moved here nine months ago, so it seems worth the time needed to give you my tried-and-true-Sheri-Parmelee-original recipe. My kids loved it, so here it is:

Take one one-pound package of boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins. Cook them in a pot, chopping them into bite-sized pieces when they are cooked halfway through.

Finish cooking them while you chop up one Idaho potato. Once the chicken is completely cooked, pour two Heinz Homestyle Gravy jars (the 12 oz size) into the pot. Run a little water into the bottom of the jars (about a half inches per jar) and pour that into the pot, as well. Add two teaspoons of sage and two teaspoons of thyme. Stir it in thoroughly. Add the raw potato. Add in a half package of your favorite frozen vegetables. Cook until the potato and veggies are soft. This makes four servings. I freeze three of them.

This recipe can be easily expanded, based on how many people you have. I hope you enjoy this! Everyone I have ever served this to absolutely loves it and comes back for seconds.


Dr. Sheri

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Flat Tires are a Real Drag

Hello everyone:

Flat tires are a bother, an inconvenience, and especially troublesome on major holidays. I know. I had one this afternoon.

There I was, on my way to one of my favorite stomping grounds- Bed, Bath, and Beyond- for a little mid-afternoon entertainment (I am easily amused, I suppose), when I noticed my car tire inflation light was on and my car seemed to be running a bit more lumpty bumpty than usual.

Okay, the roads around this area have trouble with smoothness but this seemed out of the ordinary. It was.

Fortunately, my go-to IT guy had just left my house (He’s the son of a dear friend) and so I called and asked if he would take a look at my tire, which seemed only a bit mushy.

Folks, mushy is not a good thing and a little mushy turns into greatly mushy amazingly fast. Give the tire a few minutes and you have a tire that is mostly rim sitting on the ground. Trust me, I know.

My IT friend arrived at the scene of the newly-flat tire just in time to confirm that, yes, indeed, I had a flat tire. I couldn’t find my AAA card.

Happily, my friend was also a member and gave me the phone number. The man at AAA said it would be 65 minutes. Sixty-five minutes in the hot summer sun sounded very unappealing, but the Tire-Changer Man showed up in less than 30 minutes, was very pleasant, exchanged the recalcitrant tire with my brand new spare with great efficiency, and everyone was on his or her way in a matter of minutes.

It was a great experience in the middle of despair. So what do I recommend? Having a good friend is great, so that is the first advice. My final advice on this experience is this: If you don’t like changing tires, get AAA! They do not pay me to say this. I am offering this recommendation without any expectation of reimbursement for my endorsement.

Having someone show up to change my tire for me was worth the price of the yearly fee they charge to be a member. AAA is most definitely worth its weight in gold tires. Because flat tires, as you know, are a real drag.


Dr. Sheri

P.s. Yes, I gave the Tire-Changer Man a tip. It was a very hot day today.

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All Things Work Together

Hello everyone:

I was thinking this morning that “all things work together for good,” but my treadmill was not participating in that, the last time I visited Florida (which was just this past weekend!).

It seems that the little fellow felt overworked a couple of months ago and he gave up the ghost at 9.5 miles out of what I had hoped would be a ten-mile run. Since the model was sold to my brother in 2002, it’s a good bet that it can’t be repaired.

Before I had the knowledge of its advanced age, though, I did try a few things. First, I checked the circuit breaker, to see if it had been tripped. The machine just stopped dead in my tracks, without any warning. Nope, the circuit breaker was fine.

Then I flipped the drop strip that I have my computer plugged in to. Nope, it was fine. I checked the wall outlet. Again, everything was hunky dory, peachy keen, no problemo.

Those are the steps I would take to try and figure out why something stopped, and I would do (and did do) before calling a repair person. When you have an appliance break down, these are steps you can take, but keep in mind that you need to make sure that you have rubber-soled shoes on your feet and that you aren’t standing in water as you try these quick-fix remedies.

Time for a true confession: One time, rather long ago, I decided to vacuum a wet carpet. Not my best move, as you might imagine. I was also barefoot. Again, not the wisest thing I have ever done. I felt this tingly feeling but still did not put two and two together in any meaningful way. And then it hit me. You might say, it hit me like a lightening bolt (or a shock from the outlet): the tingly feeling was my being shocked. Never a good thing and no, you will not stay young longer if you are electrocuted. You won’t stay around, period. The good news is that I wised up really, really fast.


Dr. Sheri

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Plumbing Leaks: Are They or Aren’t They? Only the Plumber Knows for Sure

Hello everyone:

A leak on the second floor will damage the ceiling on the first floor. You can’t pretend it isn’t there and hope it will go away.

If the leak is allowed to fester, you will have to replace the ceiling in whatever room is under the leak, so it is best to get it fixed right away. Before you automatically think you can’t fix it, google it and see if it is something you can handle.

There are several websites that tell you how to fix it in five easy steps, so see if you can find your type of faucet (if that’s what is leaking) online and give it a try. Otherwise, look for the list of plumbers your husband left behind (or go to your hardware store or to your real estate agent for a list of competent plumbers) and get the work done.

Please note: Sometimes the water leak is actually water from the bathtub that the kids have knocked out as they are bathing.

The metal ring that seems to serve no purpose that is halfway between the bathtub plug and the faucet can leak and make water go underneath the tub and through your floor, if you splash the water just right.

While this should not be your children’s goal, sometimes it does happen. The good news is that is does not necessarily mean you have a leak somewhere. It means you have rambunctious kids who have gotten somewhat sloppy with their bathwater.

Best wishes with your leak. I hope that it’s just overly-enthusiastic bathers and not a plumbing issue.


Dr. Sheri

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Medical Information and Other Fun Medical Issues

Hello everyone:

Some of the widowed gentlemen I see eating lunch and dinner at the local hospital and shopping mall seem completely disinterested in making new friends. They greet one another pleasantly but then they sit at different tables.

Their aged hearing makes conversations at that distance impossible. They eat their meals silently and alone. Another man I see at the hospital is about the same age as these other males, but he is different. He is at the hospital as a volunteer. He is engaged in this new time of life, and meets and greets everyone he sees. He steps lively and thoroughly enjoys his work. He has tried to get his peers interested in volunteering, but they seem prefer the solitary lives they now have. What type situation would you chose to emulate?

By the way, a couple of years have gone by since I witnessed this isolation in the midst of people. Only two of the men are left. One still comes in and sits alone, grumbling about the poor food (which he eats because it is cheap) and the other man is housebound. The other men died. The volunteer fellow is still alive and well, last I heard.

Medical History

You need to keep track of your personal medical history. Make up a list of your allergies to drugs, operations you have had (and when and where they took place), and what medicines in what dosage you are taking.

You need to keep this list current, so that if the paramedics are called to your house, you can give them the list so that you can be treated correctly. If you have any current medical conditions that the medical professionals taking care of you in an emergency need to know about, make sure those conditions are on the list, as well.

This is especially important if you live alone and you don’t have nearby relatives. Keep the list in your wallet or purse, so that it is readily available.

What ideas can you share on this train of thought?


Dr. Sheri

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Feeling Alone in this Big World? Pray for Companionship!

Hello everyone:

Are you feeling lonely on the weekends or other times in the week? Pray that the Lord will send you someone to have fellowship with. You don’t have to be looking for a spouse here- I have a friend who prayed that the Lord would give her someone to hang out with on the weekends- her loneliest time of the week- and God provided her with female companions every weekend since she asked Him for company. Isn’t God great?

I have several widowed or divorced friends who have a presence on Facebook. When someone wants to go to a movie but would prefer not to be alone, they post “I want to go see xyz tonight. anyone want to meet me there?”

This a great way to get to know a new friend that you previously barely knew, perhaps from a Sunday school class or other social activity, and not have to spend so much time on your own.

You know what’s so funny about my friend from the first paragraph? God answered her prayer so quickly that she initially turned down her first two invitations to do something. Then she said it was as if God spoke directly to her and asked, “Hey, you said you were lonely, so what gives? Here is companionship I have given you, so take it.”

She texted her friend back and asked, “Is it too late to accept your offer to go to the Peaks of Otter this morning?” They went and had a fantastic time! Tomorrow, they’re going to Smith Mountain Lake, where my friend has never been, and I would be willing to bet that they will have a wonderful time! The next day, my friend will be with her best friend, who asked her out to dinner. Great deal!

God answers our prayers and He knows the desires of our hearts. So take the time to pray and then to listen for His answer.


Dr. Sheri

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