The love of your life is no longer with you, after being a huge part of your life for many years. Where do you go from here? The temptation is to keep everything exactly like he or she had it, and that may work for a while. At some point in time, you will need new shoes that he or she hasn’t seen, new clothing that your beloved spouse hasn’t helped you pick out, and new furnishings for your home. Holding onto everything you had before might be comforting, but it will not bring that dear spouse back.
You are not being disloyal if you replace worn out shoes or buy clothing in your new size (you may gain or lose weight, depending on your personal style of grieving). Start small, but realize that eventually you will need to replace the worn bedspread on your former marital bed. This is simply practical, since a bedspread that is falling apart may not seem important but a new cover will actually lift your spirits (okay, I am a former decorator and old habits are hard to break- I would find a new bedspread incredibly encouraging).
Let’s try a different approach here: a disintegrating bedspread is bad for your lungs. When my dad finally replaced his marital bedspread, he found it remarkably uplifting. Dad kept the old bedspread on the chair next to my mom’s side of the bed because he was not yet ready to dispose of it. Keeping the spread for three years made the new spread easier to accept and enjoy. When the time finally came, his caregiver threw it away when he wasn’t looking. He’s forgotten he ever had it, now that he has dementia.
When you are ready, go ahead and get rid of extra furniture that clutters the house but is not used. In their later years, my parents had a hobby of going to estate sales and buying new things that they thought would be fun to have. As a result of many years of doing this, they had a television in every room (but only watched two of them). Only two of their sets actually worked when digital televisions came into being. My mom was gone for a full year before we convinced Dad to get rid of the excessive sets.
He also took the step of throwing out an unused chair that had rotting upholstery (they had gotten the chair for free but never sat on it and never replaced the fabric covering it). It was a huge step later when he sold an old kitchen table and chair set and got a new one.
The changes have been small but, after several years, he finally got to the place where he could comfortably give away things he never used. If he did it, you can too!
One word of warning: if you ever decide to remarry, your new spouse will not appreciate your telling him or her “but Annie liked things this way” when your spouse tries to redecorate. If you cannot accept the remodeling of your house by your new spouse, move! (This is actually a good idea, if it is in your budget. That way, the new home is “ours” rather than “yours” or “mine.”)
There’s a new show on HGTV (my go-to network) that’s called Unspouse Your House. I’ve watched it a few times out of curiosity and see how it might be a good idea, especially for someone who is continuing to reside in the marital home. I know a guy who un-decorated his house, even to removing the shower curtains. This may seem a bit extreme but, if it made him feel better, more power to him. If redecorating makes you feel better and you feel ready to do it, then go for it and enjoy your new old home.
Today’s Missive is all about Taking out the Trash
Do you know what day the trash is collected in your area? How about knowing when the recycle folks show up? What time do you need to have the trashcans out at the curb? Where should you place them? How much time do you have to bring them back to the house? (This could be an issue with your homeowners’ association.) Are there any special restrictions on what you can place at the curb?
If you haven’t been paying attention to these details, talk to your neighbors or observe what they are doing. Your local county is also a good source of information on trash. Visit their website or give them a call to find out what is or is not acceptable.
Garbage cans can be extremely heavy when they are full, so either do not fill them completely, use more than one garbage can so that the weight is more evenly distributed, or get a dolly to roll the can to the curb. I do not recommend putting the garbage can in the back of your car; even if you could lift it (this sounds like a hernia operation waiting to happen).
If the trash spills out, you could end up with a very smelly trunk. Make every effort to get rid of your trash on a weekly basis. The longer it hangs around, the more likely you will attract bugs, rodents, or other small animals. Trash does not get better with time. It also does not go away on its own. (Think Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie, here!)
You can also purchase garbage cans that have wheels. They come in very handy if you need to pull your garbage can to the curb for pickup. You may wish to put your house number on the side of the can so that you can identify it from those of your neighbors; a magic marker usually works well on providing the cans with permanent identification. Again, be sure to follow the homeowners’ association rules for when you’re your garbage can be placed at the curb and the deadline by which it must be removed.
In my present neighborhood, I am required to turn my trash can a certain way, so that the wheels are facing the street. The city has a special truck that picks up the cans and dumps them into the back of the vehicle but they will only pick up the trash can if the wheels are properly aligned.
I also have to have a city sticker on the top of the can, or they won’t stop. The sticker costs $40-80 per year, depending on the size of the can. It has an expiration date that is easily read. I must pay the bill to get a new sticker or the city won’t pick up the trash!
Interestingly enough, my new city does not recycle. If I want to recycle anything, I have to take my empty bottles and cans to a recycle center and pay to have them take the empty containers off my hands.
I hope my trash talk has helps smooth your transition to the single life. Do you have any tales to tell?
A clogged drain is not a particularly difficult challenge. All you need for a simple clog is a wire clothes hanger, opened up to its full length. Keep the hook crocked, so that you have something to hang on to. Put a smaller hook in the opposite end of the hanger. Thread the end with the smaller hook down the recalcitrant drain, twist it in circles several times, and pull the entire glob of gunk out of the drain.
You might have a buildup of hair and other items in the drain. You might actually be surprised by what you find down there, clogging up the works. You can also buy a Drain Devil, which is a piece of plastic that has serrated edges that allow it to pick up the gunk in your drain as you snake it down the pipes. You do basically the same thing as you would with the hanger, but you don’t have to destroy a hanger to do it.
(Keep a paper towel handy, to wrap the mess in. You won’t want to touch it any more than necessary.) You will want to throw this gunk in the garbage immediately; make sure you seal it in a Ziploc bag when you dispose of it or it will stink up the house.
Keep whatever you used to unclog your drain; don’t throw it away because this will happen again.
Do not EVER use muriatic acid on your pipes. When it is poured down a drain, it smokes, it smells, it gives off dangerous gas, and it doesn’t always work. It can kill you and yours. Do not take a chance on it.
What is the other option? If you don’t unclog your drain, the water in the bathtub will back up and it will be soapy. It will get on the floor of your shower or bathmat and it will become slimy. (Note that, if it is already slimy, time will not improve its condition. You will need to clean the mat or shower floor after you unclog the pipes, or you could have a slipping hazard.)
Yes, you truly love the color you painted the living room eons ago, but it is time to repaint, if you want to sell the family homestead.
One of our family friends died recently and his children decided to put his condo up for sale. Their emotional attachment to the property was immense, so much so that they decided to put it on the market for $40,000 above the price of comparable units. They did nothing to it, mind you.
The condo had not been painted since the parents moved in and its age was obvious. The flooring was old and worn out, the carpeting was threadbare in places and stained in others. The kitchen had the original builder-grade quality cabinets and linoleum; the condo was on the ground floor of a property that had been flooded by several big storms.
The property did not meet the upgraded standards of other units in the same complex. They were selling it as “for sale by owner” to save the real estate commission. After several unsuccessful months on the market, they reduced the price and then they reduced it again.
The last reduction was accompanied by placing the property with a real estate agent, but they are still overpriced for the area and have had no takers for this well-worn condo. I saw the property recently and it still needed new carpets and a fresh coat of paint throughout.
Also, although you may absolutely love the mermaid you personally (and without any artistic training) hand painted on your kids’ bathroom wall, prospective buyers may find it horrid. You absolutely need to paint over it in a neutral tone.
The bright yellow hair and crooked smile may be charming to you, but it could gag the people walking into your bathroom for the first time. (I actually saw this on a make-over show. The woman was almost in tears as she removed the huge mermaid, while her husband stood by to comfort her.)
If you decide to repaint, keep in mind that any pictures you take down may need to be rehung when you are finished. Get someone at your local hardware store or a friend who has experience in hanging pictures to teach you how to find a stud in the wall, how to use the proper screws and anchors, and how to get things perfectly level so that you can do the job right. If you do the work incorrectly, the area behind your pictures may look like the shoot-out at the OK Corral when you are finished. You want things to stay in place, be secure, and look great, so ask for help if you need it.
Please visit a love story with me for a few moments. He was a catch- 6’2″ tall, black hair, and bright blue eyes. She was on the Homecoming court at Akron U. Gorgeous, with light brown hair and root beer eyes!
They met on a blind date, after her sister and her boyfriend set them up when the gal’s boyfriend broke up with her so that he wouldn’t have to take her out to dinner and buy her a gift. I’m glad the former boyfriend was a cheapskate for reasons that will become obvious very soon.
So they were introduced. They talked all evening. She found out later that, when he got home, he called all the girls he was dating and told them he couldn’t see them anymore. He had one girl he liked to take dancing because she was a good dancer, another he liked to take bowling because she always had a great game, and another the liked to take to movies because she was fun to hold hands with in the dark.
He told them all the same thing: “I can’t see you any more because I’ve just met the woman I’m going to marry.” Three days later, he brought over an engagement ring and his proposal was accepted. They got married seven months later.
Four children, six grandchildren, six great grandchildren, and sixty-seven years later, they were still wildly in love. After a brief illness, she died. He was devastated. I know this special love story well because it is the story of my parents.
Do my widows or widowers have any special tales they would like to tell? I would love to hear from you.
P.S. This picture is not of my parents; it is a sock picture from unsplash, but aren’t they a cute couple?
One of my friends had an elderly grandfather who grew up during the depression and he didn’t trust banks. As a result, he kept a great deal of money at his house.
One day when she was vacuuming, he told her to be careful around the drapes. When she asked why, he told her that he had money pinned to the bottom of the inside of the curtains. He also had additional money hidden throughout the house but he refused to say exactly where it was.
When he died, he still hadn’t told anyone. His wife and family never did locate the hidden stash. It is still hidden. He was a good hider! If you are hiding money, make sure that someone in your family knows where it is or the money could be lost to your family forever.
When cleaning out my aunt’s house, we discovered money hidden in magazines. She had tucked over $1,000 away for a rainy day, but none of it was in the same place. There was a $20 bill here, another there, all over her house.
She also grew up during the depression and realized it was important to have money in case the banks were not open. We also found family members’ death certificates in old magazines, so be very careful when going through an older person’s belongings.
Also, some of the elderly person’s furniture might be valuable. If you are not good at valuing antiques, find someone who is. Don’t just throw things out.
Do you have tales of woe regarding hidden treasures? I would love to share your experiences with my readers!
Have you ever sat down on the toilet, only to keep sliding?
It’s not you or your weight. It’s the blasted bolt that holds the toilet seat on. They can fall off without notice and, suddenly, your toilet seat won’t stay in place.
You can try sitting down holding onto something so that you don’t end up in the toilet bowl, or you can fix it. Having done both, I suggest the latter rather than the former.
Here’s what you do: Go to the hardware store and ask for a bolt that holds the toilet seat to the toilet itself. Come home and, squatting before the toilet bowl, replace the bolt that goes through the back right or left side of the toilet seat (you’ll see a hole) and screw the seat to the underside of the toilet. You can do this yourself in less than a minute and it requires no tools. Fasten it snugly and you are good to go. Literally.
What about toilets that keep running and running? Turning themselves off and on at all hours of the day and night? Well, I will confess to not finding out about them yet. Do offer your suggestions! I will publish the best ones.
For now, I close the door to the bathroom at night, so that the blasted thing won’t wake me up in the middle of the night. It’s worked so far (hey, if I knew everything, I’d be perfect and that woudl be boring. And annoying.)
I told a friend I was going out for lunch with a friend yesterday and her eyes got wide as she said, “With a fella?” I was horrified. “Nope,” I told her, “a long-time female friend.”
I got to thinking about it. This gal has been suddenly single for a while. Perhaps she is thinking that it might be time for her to find a new man for her life and move on. Good for her! Bad for me.
Then I thought about things a bit more. Sometimes women feel like they are “put out to pasture” or simply too old for the dating scene.
Maybe you are “over the hill and partway down the other side” but, if you think that you’d like to jump back into things, go for it. There is a certain caveat: even old men like younger women. If you are, say, mid to late sixties yourself, you may find that the only men who are interested in you are in their eighties or nineties. I’m not trying to discourage you, but you should look at this with your eyes open.
For the gentlemen: Keep in mind that the best bananas to use in banana bread are the ones with freckles (aka: age spots). Don’t discount the value of a woman just because she may have a few miles on her. The cute young thing that you might think makes you look younger just makes you look like her father. Or grandfather.
What do you think? Go for it or forget it?
I saw a cute saying this afternoon. It said, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”
Perhaps you have lost the future you always thought would be yours. Maybe you now live in a place you never expected or you are facing situations that you’ve never had to contemplate, like toilets that won’t stop running or carpenter bees that threaten the stability of your front porch or doors you can’t open or doors that won’t close or or or.
Friends, this, too shall pass. You will get back up on your feet, emotionally and personally. Hang in there. You can’t imagine what’s in store in the future, but hold on.
I saw a picture taken of me in early January. The signs of stress were all over my face. I looked tired, beaten down, exhausted. I kinda looked like someone getting ready to “view the body,” as I often say.
Then I saw a photo that was taken today. It was amazing. What a transformation! I looked relaxed, had a broad smile, and (if I may say so) looked ten years younger. What a difference four months had made.
It reminded me of a lovely widow I have known for years. Before her grouchy hubby died suddenly, you rarely saw her smile. After he passed, she lost 20 years off of her face. She has never remarried, though she did date for a while.
What are you holding onto that you are afraid will change? Let is go, if at all possible. Change is not always bad. Sometimes it can be very good.
This coming Sunday morning, I will be on WLNI, finishing my first interview (which was started last weekend) with radio and television host Andre Whitehead.
If you would like to listen live, it can be found at WLNI.com at 8 am. This was my first venture into a long conversation, and was seen via television twice last weekend, along with the first half of our conversation. for a first endeavor, the feedback was fairly positive. I would covet your feedback on this continuation of that conversation.
So far, the most popular part of the first discussion was the story about how I killed a mouse that was trapped in a mousetrap in my garage.
I am available for interviews in your area, if you are relatively close to Virginia, and would love the opportunity to share about my book Suddenly Single. I am also available for church conferences on singleness.
If you would like more information, please post a comment herein and I will get back to you as soon as I can.