“The only constant in life is change”-Heraclitus.
In widowhood, there is the change we didn’t choose, obviously. But there is also the changes we do choose to make and even embrace.
Early in my widowhood, I either read or was advised in group to make some small changes in “our” home, the idea is to begin the process of making it into “my” instead of “our.”
The first change I made was small; I simply hung a rack for the dog leashes. My late husband, Dale, had a thing about hanging things on the wall; it was one of his quirks. He hated nail holes. So, I had a rack I bought for the dog leashes, but he would never hang it.
He hated when I hung even decorative things on the wall (I hung them anyway) and although this would make our lives easier by having a place for the dog leashes, I never insisted on him hanging it…. you know in a marriage you choose your battles.
So the leash rack was my first imprint of making the house “my house.” Little by little, I made changes, redecorating the bathroom, the bedroom and finally replacing his recliner and getting a new side table and lamp for “his” corner of the living room to make it my reading corner.
This summer, I decided I wanted to have a couple of deck parties with girlfriends, so I bought some pretty new dishes – more feminine – and I was reminded of when my mother became a widow and she redecorated her bedroom in rose colored florals.
I understand now her need to do that.
When I began looking at new flatware, however, I didn’t want to make a total change.
When Dale and I started dating, I was working part time at J.C. Penney while attending high school. One night, as we were walking through the store, we both fell in love with a flatware set that had wooden handles. I purchased it with my discount and when we got it out of layaway, it went into my “Hope Chest.”
It wasn’t the last thing we purchased for the house from the retailer. So much of our house was outfitted with furniture from Penney’s, Dale jokingly called it, “The J.C. Penney Showroom.”
Fast forward and after several decades of using and abusing the flatware (Dale took them to work to eat lunch and didn’t return them, they got chewed up in the garbage disposal, etc.) I have only one fork left and a miss match of flatware. We still loved the wooden handled set and Dale suggested a few years ago I look online to see if I could find it or something similar. At the time, I came up empty.
When I began looking for flatware to go with my new dishes, I decided to look again to see if I could find the wooden handled ones I’ve loved since I was 17.
Lo and behold, I did. It was the one thing in the house I didn’t want to change. When they arrived, I was thrilled they were almost an exact match to the ones we put in layaway together 40 years ago.
Although worn, I didn’t put the old flatware in the box for donation. I put them under the new flatware in the drawer.
Like my old life, no matter how far I move forward, the flatware will be there, just under the new, always a piece of the “us” that was.
If you’re a widow/widower, what changes have you made in your home?