Three things I have learned as a result of being widowed twice in my life, once at 27 and the second at 73.
1. Life goes on and although you have wonderful memories that you should treasure, you have to learn to live in the present.
2. Be grateful that you had a partner who appreciated you and tried to make you happy. If you are lonely and you don’t like being alone, find someone who can make you happy again.
3. You will compare: there is no way around that, but also look for the things that are good in a new relationship, although those new things will be different.
Life Goes On: At 27 with two children under the age of five, I faced myself in the early ’70s. It was bad enough to be widowed at that age, but it was also a time of tremendous upheaval. The 1970s brought the Vietnam War to a crisis, Nixon was impeached, and feminism was on the rise. Everything was upside down for me. As a post-Victorian baby boomer who was used to wearing women’s clothing, women’s clothing looked like men’s clothing and I felt uncomfortable and unsure of myself. Mary Tyler Moore had her TV show about living alone as a woman and she made it look good.
After the death of my first husband, I knew I had to change my life and if I didn’t, I probably never would. So, I left my small town in upstate New York and moved to Canada to start a new life. It was scary and there were many days where I wanted to run back to the familiar, but I stuck it out after telling myself I’d give it 5 years and if I didn’t make it work I’d go back to my hometown. .
It was in the second year of my new life in Canada that I met my future second husband, who was also a widower. He had a son and I had two girls, so we became a blended family. It is not easy to merge two families, as it is wrought with emotional challenges and differences in the way of running a house and disciplining children, but the marriage lasted 43 years. I thought that was it for me in terms of men in my life when he died.
Be grateful for having a partner: My first marriage lasted 9 years and was a marriage of a young couple with innocence and perhaps a lack of conscience. My second marriage lasted 43 years to a wonderful man who was smart, kind, compassionate, and loved to travel. We had a very nice life despite the fact that we had to work hard so that family problems would not divide us. But since I was 18 I had been a married person minus the 3 years between marriages, so I needed to find someone to share my life with, even if it didn’t mean marriage right now. I didn’t like being alone.
You’ll Compare: Since life goes on and I’ve had two good marriages, I decided to sign up for Match and do some ‘escort’ shopping to see if anyone could meet some of my requirements. I didn’t want a divorced man, so I eliminated anyone who was divorced. I wanted an educated man as my second husband was a scientist who had a Renaissance man approach to life. I wanted someone who enjoyed traveling as I had traveled the world with my second husband, and I also wanted someone who was considerate and kind.
Well, I ended up with a twice-divorced man who could only cruise due to a mobility issue and was sometimes outspoken with others instead of nice.
I had to put aside my need to compare him to the first two husbands, even though he was closer to the first husband than the second. Look I can’t stop comparing! I had to adjust to being on a cruise instead of going to a country and creating a trip as we went. Mind you, the cruises were top of the line, so I soon learned to enjoy being pampered on these cruises.
Although he was an intelligent man in his own way, he lacked the sophistication that my second husband had, so I had to learn to adapt to a limited range of subjects and to simple films rather than complex ones.
Now, the good thing that a new partner brought me was sexuality. I thought that part of my life was over and now with this new partner who loved sexuality, hugs and kisses, I really started to enjoy my body again at my age.
We also baked and cooked together and it was fun to look for new recipes. We both enjoyed going to concerts and musicals and finding new and interesting things to do together. I began to appreciate these new gifts of their contribution to my life.
At 74 I can honestly say that life goes on. I want to live in the present although I will continue to appreciate my past. I am grateful for the gift of companionship and that I will continue to look for those things in a new partner that bring me joy.