Wednesday, July 22, 2009

150 Poor Widow Meeees

I've been home from San Diego since Sunday but I needed to digest the Widow Conference before I wrote about it. Okay, also, I'm lazy. I had to unpack, do a little laundry, visit Skylar, my cutie pie granddaughter, pick up my perfect dog, Tony and spend time with Mickey, the man I'm seeing who I tell everyone "you can't not like him."

(Is that a double negative, Vera?) Vera is my great friend from Junior HS who is now a retired English teacher. If she could mark up my monitor screen with red ink she would.

Last night Mickey and I went to CitiField to the Paul McCartney conference. I mean, concert. See? I am thinking about the conference.

By the way, Paul was fantastic. He's still my favorite Beatle, although, of course, now we only have 50% of the Beatles left. This is similar to the 0% of the husbands at the conference. You didn't think I could tie it in, did ya? HA!

I had a bit of a bounce in my step arriving at the Marriott in San Diego because I had come from two days at the Bellagio in Vegas and I WON. Yes, this was the second time in my life I walked with a "winners strut." Jimmy would have been flabbergasted. He always called me his "anchor" and he didn't mean it in a good way.

Traveling alone feels fairly comfortable these days. It quickly turns uncomfortable again, though, as I get caught up grieving about not grieving. As my friend Jade says, "Everything comes with an "oy." My new widow friends can attest to that, for sure.

I woke up early on Friday eager to begin the seminars that the founder of Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, Michele Heff Hernandez promised would be amazing. Unfortunately, each unmarked door I opened revealed a lonely pedestal and rows of empty chairs. Where was everyone? I did find the "Speaker's luncheon", but that turned out to be for the speakers. Who knew?

At last, someone pointed out to me that Saturday was the main day for the sessions. In an environment of only widows I couldn't play the widow card to mask my stupidity. There I was Queen for a Day and everyone was wearing a crown. Damn.

Not to bog this blog (say that 3X fast) Bog this blog - Bog this blog - Bog this blog - with too many details I must spout out the highlights and headlines. A surprise was that there were 8 widows from Singapore. (Doesn't that sound like a title?) "Eight Widows From Singapore" available in bookstores everywhere.

Anyway, they came just for this conference and they didn't even stop in Vegas. (I know. I asked.) Please check out their blog I also met a widow from Kenya named Hilda Orimba Agola who founded Widows and Orphans Welfare Society of Kenya. After this introduction I felt myself literally shrink.

Dr. Rajaa Al Kuzai, a trained Ob-Gyn traveled from Baghdad and as we shook hands I became indistinguishable from the speck of dust that clung to my Capri pants. Her website is You'd think with this accomplished bunch I'd have no one to play with, but I sought my own level.

Enter Sandi from Anaheim, CA, my buddy. A smart, fun lady who lost her husband George about three years ago. Ellen, Linda, Debbie, Carol, Eileen, Cathy, Cary and Sharon were only some of the women I talked with and laughed with and bonded with.

We connected instantly by way of loss and like prisoners in jail who ask, "How long are you in for?" we began our greetings with "How long has it been?"

For most of us it was two, three, four years. We didn't dwell on how it happened as much as what has happened to us in the aftermath. We all shook our heads acknowleding that unfocused and foggy first year. Friends and family - gratitude and disappointment, mostly gratitude. Children and grandchildren, all that he is missing. Balancing our checkbook, reading a whole book? No way.

For Cathy it was 13 months. She was visibly more fragile than the rest of us. For Cary it was 10 months. She was still in the phase that she made plans only to fold into herself and wonder what she must have been thinking. On Saturday morning she told me she was staying until Monday before traveling back to New Jersey.

"I think I'll rent a car and drive up the coast" she said enthusiastically. "I'll stop wherever I stop, maybe in a bed and breakfast place. I've never done that." To an outsider she seemed reved up by her new adventure.

A handful of hours later I told the gang, "Guess what Cary's going to do..."
"Oh, I'm not doing that" she said emphatically like it had never been a thought.

Non-widows may have prodded her with a "Come on. It will make you feel good." But, not us. We knew that at that stage, that first year, year and a half we can not make plans. We might accept an invitation for dinner an hour before if we felt up to it...but on Monday to plan for Wednesday? Impossible.

Just some other people you may want to know: Marian Fontana ( )
who wrote "A Widow's Walk" about her firefighter husband, killed September 11th - believe me, she is one of the funniest widows you ever want to know. Now, she's writing a book about dating. That got my attention.

Mie Elmhirst, MBA - told how she divided up her husband's ashes to split evenly between her mother-in-law and brother-in-law. It was a "don't try this at home" message literally in a bottle.

Anne Marie Ginella, founder of raised my global awareness of the widow's plight although I still have more enthusiasm for my new favorite show "Nurse Jackie" on Showtime with Edie Falco. This may be why I'm "Poor Widow Me" and not "Poor Widow Everyone" - we are the world...

A soft spoken yet dynamic speaker, Dr. Leslie Beth Wish, Ed.D, MSS (wanted us to call her LB) is at She "confessed" to not being a widow, but she qualified herself because her mother died when she was fairly young and her good looking doctor father was pounced on immediately with casseroles and cleavage. It worked. He remarried, she died, remarried, she died and remarried and she died. LB saw widowhood many many many many times.

It may be a cop out to say, "You had to be there" because isn't it my job to give you the flavor of the weekend? Did I? I hope I did. The bottom line is we all fit into each others shoes. That was the magic.

The heartiest laugh? Those of us dating imagine our husbands are saying, "Sex? NOW, you're interested?"

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Widow Conference

Hi all,

Just to say that I''ll be away this week without a laptop and won't be writing until next week. I'll be in San Diego at a widow conference...Not a big one...just a widow one.

What do widows do at a conference? When we first arrive we take our lipstick and paint an upper case W on our forehead. This is why you rarely see a widow with bangs.

Anyway, I hope this tribal marking comes off easily. I'd hate to be stopped at the airport.

Enjoy your week. Make it a great one...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Carol Leifer is a Liar, but Timely for my Blog

Hi All,

I had to break from the letters because this interview is so in tune to what I blogged about last entry...July 8th.

On AOL today:

Comedian Carol Leifer on Her Mid-Life Change

At 40, comedian and author Carol Leifer decided to spice up her life by having a fling with a woman. But the 10-year divorcee never thought that her first lesbian venture would evolve into a 13-year partnership. (THAT I BELIEVE)

Now, she shares a home and has a child with her partner, Lori. In her new book, "When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win," Leifer talks about life after 40, the moment she discovered she might be gay and how her life has changed for the better.

AOL Health: When you were younger, were there any indications that you might be gay?

Carol Leifer: I entitled the chapter "Surprise" because it was like my life threw me a surprise party. I really didn’t have any clue, and in fact, had very good physical relationships with men. (LIAR!)

It was around when I turned 40 that I had this really intense desire to have an affair with a woman. It just kind of overtook me, kind of like when you feel like you're on a mission. (OH, PLEEZ!) When [Lori and I] first got together, I really thought this would be a nice fling. It was a surprise to me that I was falling in love, (PANTS ON FIRE!) but who would know this many years later that the first woman I would have a relationship with would wind up being my long-term partner who I'm about to celebrate a 13-year anniversary with.

AOL Health: You write about being immediately enamored with Lori the first time you met her. Was confronting those feelings alarming or difficult?

Leifer: This [was] supposed to be my fun fling, not the thing that redefined my sexuality and redefined almost everything about me. (WHEN YOU'RE STRAIGHT A FUN FLING IS HOT SEX WITH SOMEONE 20 YEARS YOUNGER - AND, OH, THE OPPOSITE SEX)

AOL Health: After you figured out what it was you wanted, how long did it take for you to start coming out to your friends and family?

Leifer: The hardest part was coming out to my parents -- to my middle-class, New York, Jewish parents. My parents were definitely disappointed that my marriage didn't work, but I think they always pictured me with a husband ultimately and having a child. (DUH)

When I told my parents I thought they were disappointed, but they were so happy that my partner Lori was Jewish, and my ex-husband wasn't. They were like, "Let's have some Manichewitz and toast."


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My Widow Advice #22 A Lesbian Lesson

Dear PWM,

I've got one for you, Carol. I think I'm a lesbian. 27 years married and I am thinking about approaching this beautiful, sexy woman (who I am almost positive is gay) at my gym. This never crossed my mind in the past, but when I see this gorgeous creature work out and get sweaty, I get a tingle that I haven't had since my honeymoon.

My husband, John is dead 7 years now. Good marriage and the sex was fine. I have been out with a few men, but nothing sexual has transpired. I guess I didn't give off that "Come screw me
aura" that men look for, or at least I think they look for. Maybe, I just wasn't interested. I don't know.

But, this woman at the gym keeps smiling like she knows something and I'm about to find out. I guess my question is what the hell is going on in my 49 year old body AND mind? Have I switched gears without any thought process involved? I am confused, but I am also telling
myself, why not?

John Would Die All Over Again,

Dear John Would Die All Over Again, Stephanie,

First of all, I don't believe that sexual thoughts about women have never crossed your mind. Come on, Stephanie. If you're going to write to me, be straight with me (as in open and honest, of course)

You watch a "gorgeous creature get sweaty and you get a tingle?" Oh, pleeze. You're 49 years old. Surely (or Shirley) you've been turned on by women before. Our sexual preference isn't something we suddenly switch. It's not like the restaurant is out of minestrone soup so we order the lobster bisque.

Changing teams sometimes happens when you fall in love with your best friend - that I concede.
Sexuality for women is tied up with emotional fulfillment and if she's more "there for you" than your hubby that can lead to a physical involvement. But, this is not what you are professing.

You're not sending out the "come screw me aura" to men because you're too busy fantasizing about the ladies. You're not interested just like you weren't genuinely interested in your husband. Most likely you fell into a comfortable sex life with a man that left you lukewarm.

Go and have a hot time - be a lesbian - be who you were all along and hopefully John is up there
looking the other way.