Bank’s Closed


English: UBS Investment Bank's Offices at 1285...

UBS Investment Bank’s Offices at 1285 Avenue of the Americas in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no reward for being responsible, spending within your means, and generally putting off self-gratification until you can afford it. Pretty much all this will gain you is never-ending expectations of “lending” money to your relations who aren’t good at any of those things.

When my late husband was ill, his employer fired him. This douchebag, through an actually illegal move, halved our income in one fell swoop. I spent the next three and a half years just barely making ends meet. If it hadn’t been for my wonderful beyond words and generous to a fault Auntie, I am fairly certain I would have lost my house at the least and maybe my job at the most. She, more than anyone else, stepped up when it mattered.

Because of Auntie’s example, I try, whenever possible, to help others in dire financial straits. Last year this time, I had poured money down the hole known as my older nephew, N1 and I was still bailing out my brother, CB, from the fallout of his well-intentioned but foolish attempt to put N1 on his adult feet.

Fast forward. CB managed to right himself with a lot of assistance from me and our mother and worked steadily and profitably through last spring, summer and into the fall. However, he is a path of least resistance guy when it comes to his ex and his oldest daughter. When he has money, they hit him up non-stop for any and everything. Consequently, he doesn’t have money left to put in savings for the winter months when – because he is a contractor – work isn’t plentiful.

At Christmas, the emails started. “Can you call me?’

This only means one thing. He needs money and Mom is not forking it over. CB has come to rely on me to talk Mom into funding him.

And it is funding him. He never pays anything back even though he always begins the request for money with “I’ll pay you back.”

But they all do that.

There is no truer adage than this “don’t lend money you unless you can afford to never see it again” because it is the rare person indeed who pays back a personal loan – family probably being the most notorious deadbeats.

I never give money to my family expecting to ever see it again. Even if you have a formal agreement, written up and signed by all parties, the first time a loan repayment conflicts with some expensive desire you will hear “I’ll pay you next month for sure, ok?”

And then maybe they do or not but the precedent is set and wants get fulfilled more than loan repayments and pretty soon, the person stops paying the money back at all.

CB has legitimate money issues. I feel for the dilemma he has with his ex and his daughter though if it were me, I would have told my nearly 17-year-old to get up off her butt and find a job before I bought her a car she couldn’t afford to keep up anyway. So I gave him the money but with the stern proviso not to hit on me again because the bank is closed.

Already, Rob and I have had to resign ourselves to not being able to buy a new house in a better locale, trade in our fast falling apart truck for a new one and give up completely on the idea of taking a holiday from this long ass winter because of financial responsibilities that we’ve taken on to help out family.

On the one hand, I accept this but on the other I am not as sanguine. And there are several reasons for this.

First, I rarely shop for myself. I see things that I actually could use or even need to replace things that are worn and I defer because I am my father’s daughter. He drove home to all of us kids, though it seems to have only stuck completely with me and maybe DNOS, that you buy things when budget permits – regardless.

Second, I look around my home. We’ve been renovating since Dee and I arrived. In fact, Rob was renovating years prior to even knowing me. Six years nearly and we don’t have steps to the back door. Took them out in the summer of 2007 and the cement blocks are still there. There is no floor in the living or dining room. Because winter came early, we didn’t get the shed built, so that lumber is stacked and taking up room in the garage, making it difficult to work on the plethora of automobiles cluttering up our landscape – some of them aren’t even ours.

The plan originally was to have had the house finished and sold by now. But life in the form of family in need has intervened and slowed progress to the point that now we are stuck. We just will have to finish up and gut it out.

“We could end up having to retire here, you know,” I told Rob.

“I refuse to think about that,” he replied.

But it could easily be our fate. Dreams of an acreage somewhere or even a house in town, which would be a million times more convenient, could easily elude us because of the stops and starts that eat up time and cash flow.

Third, one of the vehicles has developed what is probably a major issue. It’s the one we wanted to trade in and can’t because we’ve taken on Edie’s car payments now that she is back in school. We did this willingly, mind you, because we are parents and we know that she needs training in a profession if she is to go anywhere career-wise in life. But it’s a major imposition now that the truck is fubar.

I shouldn’t whine or be resentful. Life is what it is and my life is hardly the stuff of tragedy.

But I am annoyed about this.

When I was 18, I went off to college, which I put myself through and then with very little monetary assistance from my parents, made my way in the world. My mother poured more than twice as much money into N1  just last year than she has ever “lent” me as an adult. Sometimes, I question whether I should have learned my father’s lessons as well as I have. There is certainly nothing to be gained – other than the right to stand on the soapbox – from having denied one’s self and been responsible.

I will be fine without a new truck or moving. We have a beater in the back that Rob can easily get running again if worse comes to worst, and the house will be finished … someday … and maybe even emptied of all the crap that makes if seem tinier than it is. Life is not unbearable by any means.

But the bank is closed. So don’t ask. Unless you really want to hear what I might have to say.

I Got A Raise


yoga

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

I don’t think much about getting paid to teach yoga. I should. One thing my teacher training instructor hammered home to us was that “People don’t value or stick with instruction that is given to them for free”, and she was correct.

In fact, I knew this from my time spent in the public school trenches – if it was free/it was a “gimme”. Anything you simply share is eventually taken for granted by the majority of people. Especially in our North American culture where so much emphasis is placed on price and the material.

But, I haven’t ever pushed to be paid at a certain rate. When asked, I throw out a few numbers based on what I know about the market and I accept what is offered. Money is fine but karma points are often much better.

This morning I got a call from the woman who hired me to teach at the community hall. She had been thinking about my rate of pay and wondered if I was happy with it.

At a minimum wage job, it would take me about half the day to make what I receive for teaching one hour of yoga. It’s not the worst part-time job ever. It’s barely a part-time job at all given that I work on average about three hours a week minus travel time, which is also pretty negligible.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” I told her.

“Well, I have been thinking that maybe we need to raise your rate,” she said. “The yoga program has been very successful here and we wouldn’t want to lose you.”

What prompted this, I think, was less the idea of losing me and more contact with fitness instructors.

The fitness program in our little hamlet has grown from yoga to include a program for senior citizens twice a week and two weekly Zumba classes.

I don’t know what the instructors of the classes charged for their services, but I can guess and it’s probably more than what I settled for initially.

However, they came from proven backgrounds and have additional communities that they serve. I was just starting out.

So, I got a raise and didn’t even have to ask for it. How awesome is my life?

Insomnia


Insomnia spooky5.JPG

Insomnia (Photo credit: Buddha Rhubarb)

While there is no cause I can pinpoint, I had a night of interrupted by stupid insomnia again.

Doctors have been unhelpful in the extreme. They tell me it is “aging”. Drink some tea. Meditate. All quite useless.

It’s not as bad as it was prior to the discovery that I am indeed suffering from “female issues” of an aging lady variety, but sleeplessness is not an option for someone who has to be up before the dawn to put a kid on a school bus and pack a husband off to work.

Making breakfast, packing lunches and making sure that the bus does indeed arrive to convey the child has me up and conscious just long enough to make it difficult to impossible to go back to bed for a couple more hours.

This leaves me with days like today. Walking not quite dead. Feeling as though I am just coming down with or just getting over a messy bout with influenza.

Insomnia is nothing new for me. I have never been a good sleeper.

As a wee one, I gave up naps quite early, was a night owl and an early riser and generally seemed able to run on six or seven hours of shut eye without much trouble. No lounging in bed til noon as a general rule for me as a teen or young adult. And though I developed a bit of a napping habit in my early 30′s, it wasn’t a consistent one but more about the weather, which meant that on wintry or raining Sunday afternoons, you might catch me napping but otherwise – not.

Pregnancy and early motherhood were bad for sleep, but that’s true for a lot of women.

I didn’t sleep well the first year of widowhood either, but I blame that more on physical issues than emotional ones.

Now, it’s just a piss poor schedule combined with that old lady thing and the fact that we have really inconsiderate neighbors.

Age has screwed with my internal temperature regulation.

It’s too hot. Or it’s too cold. More cold than warm during the day and the opposite over night.

Who knew you could get cold flashes?

Our neighbors are a railroad siding, a guy who finds it necessary to start his truck even morning at 6 AM and leave it idle for 15 minutes – right underneath our bedroom window, and an elderly woman across the alley who, rather than listen to her equally elderly dogs shuffle and bark at her all night, puts them outside so her neighbors can listen to them shuffle and bark all night.

Once I am awake, I am awake for a solid hour or more.

In the past, I have  panicked about not getting back to sleep and this just made it take longer to get back to sleep.

Now I am more sanguine. Not happy however. I know what a loss of two hours in the middle of the night means for the next day.

It means I accomplish next to nothing and I get to feel like shit in the bargain.

Oh, I have my folk remedies. Although tea makes me pee and melatonin has to be used in moderation lest one feel just as groggy and wiped out as the insomnia leaves one.

I have a heating pad for cold flashes and muscle aches (another thing those books on “aging” don’t mention but should) and ice packs for overheating.

Mattress is newer and foam-topped. Sheets are a primo thread count.

But still, I endure days like this several times a month.

When my mother, and then Rob’s mother, were visiting recently, I noted that neither of them could sleep through the night. Mom is 80 and MIL is 71. A glimpse of my future that is bleaker than the creakiness, the sagging skin and the humpbacks.

I don’t recall my Dad having such a time sleeping, but since he went to bed by 7PM and was up by 5AM most days from about age 65 on, I don’t know that I can glean much from his example.

So much about getting older in this year I make my slow approach to 50 is depressing.

It’s not that I expect the true middle of middle age to be the new 40 or 30 or some such other nonsense, but does it have to be such a chore all the time?

The Stress Test


Scientology Stress Test with E-meter

Scientology Stress Test E-meter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s heading toward three years since Rob’s “heart event”. At three years past with no further incidences, one is considered “good to go”. Even insurance companies think you are just an average risk for your age again.

A final step before the “all clear” is a stress test. He’s had one every year since the heart attack and treatment.

I can’t say that I don’t worry about these things. Rob’s sister, LW, watched her husband drop dead in the middle of his stress test. Granted, he was a  high-strung type and heavy smoker that had been experiencing problems. A stress test was just asking the universe to do something. But, I worry just the same.

And it’s January. I had a husband die on me in January before. Some months are decidedly better than others to schedule things.

However, he went. He jogged furiously. His heart kept up. He’s once again rewarded for his indifferent regard for cardiovascular exercise and watching his weight.

Instead of sitting anxiously about the house, I went to town to walk at the fitness centre and run a couple of errands. By the time I also squeezed in side trip to Dee’s school to chat with her teacher about a ski trip form I’d apparently filled out incorrectly and arrived home, time enough had passed that if something amiss had occurred during Rob’s stress test – someone would have contacted me already. No reason, therefore, to worry further.

He wasn’t even out of breath when he called to let me know he was already on his way home.

“I’m cleared,” he said. “No reason to make any more follow-up appointments unless there is a problem.”

A relief. I prefer everyone in my life to be healthy.

My own health issues were given the “you’re just old” stamp last week after all the cancer checks came back cancer-less.

The Doctor, who is seriously chagrined that I not only am well-versed in my own anatomy but that I can and actually do read the lab requisitions he gives out, had to do a bit of explaining as to why he ordered blood work to check for ovarian cancer along with assessing my hormone levels.

I had already googled and knew why, but I loathe being treated like just one of the sheeples and now he knows better than to poke and pry without giving me a heads up.

So, we are both good. Old. And not in a fine wine so of way. But okay.

Hopefully, we can put all the worries about health to rest now and concentrate on getting the present uncluttered and start planning the future. Other fish need to be cleaned and prepared because this being old business just keeps getting older by the day. I don’t want us to waste too much of it stressing.

A Letter From the Dead Husband’s Mother


Right after the New Year, a Christmas card arrived for Dee from my late husband’s mother. Typically, all cards arrive after

 

christmas card

christmas card (Photo credit: merwing✿little dear)

 

the fact whether it be her birthday or Valentine’s. Sometimes no card arrives at all and I take that as a sign that she is once again in hospital due to one or another of her health issues, which my BFF, who is a nurse, is fairly certain will shorten the woman’s life but isn’t doing that quickly enough for me.

 

Accompanying the Christmas card was a smaller envelope addressed to me.

 

Lovely, I thought. Nothing says ‘happy new year” like a screed from Will’s mother.

 

“Please send me pictures of my granddaughter,” she wrote.

 

She never calls Dee by name. Even in the cards she sends, she rarely uses the child’s name and even more rarely does she do much more than simply sign her own.

 

Dee, from the beginning of her existence really, has only been an opportunity to claim the coveted title of “Grandmother”. In fact the first thing she said upon being told I was pregnant was to announce,

 

“Finally! Now I can buy one of those cute grandma sweatshirts.”

 

Being a grandmother has never been about Dee herself. It’s a status thing. It’s pictures to share. It was another opportunity to stake a claim on yet another territory of victim-hood because from the beginning, Will and I did nothing but tell her “no”.

 

No, you can’t name the baby.

 

No, you can’t be in the delivery room.

 

No, you can’t have the baby for overnight visits or the weekend.

 

No, we aren’t driving an hour every Sunday to your mother’s so you can play at being grandma for an audience.

 

No, we aren’t going to bring her to your house when your alcoholic sister is rampaging, and no your sister isn’t be a part of Dee’s life.

 

No, you can’t babysit because you can barely walk.

 

She was never kept from visiting, but she refused to come to our home because it was contrary to what she wanted. It also meant she was tacitly agreeing with the reason behind our avoidance of her home – that it was a hoarders’ heaven. Seriously filthy and in some areas, completely nonnegotiable. Weeks worth of dishes molding in the kitchen sink, the dishwasher and even on the breakfast bar. Mounds of fast food bags, wrappers and super-sized cups on the fireplace hearth and around the lazy boy where she nested most of the time. In the garage, the bloody vomit stains that preceded the death of her dog dried and flaked away for two years.

 

The war over Dee was not even the first or biggest battle that either Will and I fought together or I fought alone after he got sick. It was simply par for the incredibly predictable course where the woman was concerned. In fact, by the time Dee arrived on the scene, his mother would only call Will’s cellphone and not our home phone. She’d figured out that if I didn’t know about something she was up to until it was too late, I had a lesser chance of stopping her.

 

Most of her plots had to do with money. She’d perfected the art of guilting where her son was concerned and it nearly always involved a combination of throwing his dead dad at him and reminding him that she was just a poor, marginalized widow that the world was against.

 

Her biggest loss on the funding front came when I inadvertently discovered that she’d check his name on a joint checking account and was trying to use it to obtain a new line of credit.

 

The account was (I would figure out later after I’d been widowed myself) leftover from the days when she was collecting Social Security survivor’s checks. At sixteen, the money (and the account) should have been turned over to Will, but she never told him about it and there was no reason that he would have known this. She kept the account joint and continued to use the money herself. In addition, she made him get a job, pay rent and buy his own food.

 

I stamped down hard on the credit line idea and I made Will take his name off the account. If she found me hard to take before, it was war from then on.

 

Fast forward. Will died in January of 2006. She behaved atrociously the entire three months leading up to it with the highlight being the day she told the hospice Social Worker that I had physically abused Will while he was ill. This lead to the Social Worker hauling me into her office and demanding that I explain myself.

 

Of course, the accusations were fabricated from the half-truth/half-fantasy world that Will’s mother dwelt in and the Social Worker spent the rest of Will’s stay falling over herself trying to make it up to me.

 

The funeral was a nightmare.

 

And then I heard not one word from her for nearly ten months until she called one day and suggested that we both apologize to each other for our “crimes” against the other and then move on to set up visitation for her with Dee.

 

I did not quite tell her to “go to hell” though it was on the tip of my tongue. But I did set her straight on what I thought of her and that seeing Dee, supervised only, would only occur when she could convince me  that she was no longer emotionally unhealthy and that her relationship with reality and truth were more than just passing ones.

 

And then another year went by. During which time I met Rob.

 

It amuses me and astounds me by turns that I could met, fall in love with and plan to marry a man from a foreign country, quit my job, sell my house, emigrate and marry without one single member of Will’s extended family noticing. To me, this was, and still is, proof of how little Dee and I meant to any of them. Will’s mother included.

 

If not for Rob, I doubt any of them would still have the slightest idea of where we were because it was only at Rob’s urging that I contacted them.

 

Really, I wouldn’t have been moved to do it on my own.

 

And it was only my belief that Will would have wanted me to send photos of Dee that I bothered to make that small gesture at all. Will knew perfectly well that his mother was selfish, a liar and a user. He apologized for it with “she’s had a really hard life and I feel sorry for her.”

 

It was guilt and pity that motivated much of what he did for her. The bills he would pay. The cash he gave her. The odd time he would take on some household chore or task to help her out.

 

He resented being her only child because he had no one to share the burden as her physical issues rendered her more ill and increasingly disabled, and more than once, we discussed just moving to my hometown because it would put distance between us and her demands and also because he liked my family better. My family was a chance for him to have the real extended family he’d always dreamed about growing up. People who weren’t perfect but still had each others’ backs, which was very much different from the vipers’ nest of his mother’s family. The alcoholism. The dysfunction. The barrage of guilt and battering of self-esteem.

 

In a lot of ways, Will’s mother owes her continued ostracism to Will himself, who let me know from the first that he didn’t want any of our children to be too close to his mother or extended family because of the misery they’d made of his childhood.

 

The letter she sent about the pictures was nearly a grocery list.

 

“Next year I’d like a 5×7, wallets and a fridge magnet.”

 

Thanks to Facebook, I don’t print pictures anymore, so the photos of Dee’s school events, soccer games and holiday adventures stopped a while ago. All that’s left are school photos. I buy one package and divide them up between our family, friends and Will’s auntie and mother. They don’t go very far and she’s lucky I bother. I still don’t like her. I will probably never forgive her for the hell she instigated during Will’s last months when I, frankly, had no extra patience or time for her hysterics, attention-seeking or games.

 

For the time being, I haven’t told Dee the reason behind my distaste for her late father’s mother but when the time comes – I will. I have no intention of allowing Dee to meet this woman before she is old enough and armed with the truth. She will not use my daughter the way she used her own son.

 

Until then, I send photos. I resent the time and effort it requires. And I keep checking the obituaries.

 

 

 

You are Supposed to Resolve to Do Things in The New Year


Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Typically, I have resolved nothing, which isn’t to say I didn’t think about it. I just got busy, ran out of time and suddenly the deadline passed me by. Resolving after a new year begins simply isn’t protocol and probably is against the rules.

Freed then from the burden of resolutions, I can now take my time while plotting the new year. What I need to do. What l should do. What I’d like to do. What would simply be fun to do. Why some things probably aren’t worth doing. Just really give it all a good long think.

Could take the rest of the month.

In the meantime … purging … because we have a bathroom and dining room to gut and rebuild.

And by “we”, I mean Rob. Goodness knows that during the gutting process, my hyper immune system means that all I am good for is humping drywall and other debris to the truck bed and nothing more. That work is dusty enough.

The rebuild is his territory alone and not just because he is a bit of a fuss-budget about things being just so. Between the Virgoness and the engineer-ness, there isn’t a hope that I could – even with supervision – do anything that wouldn’t make him too anxious to leave me alone with the task.

So I will be responsible for cleaning out spaces in advance and providing support aka food, drink and reminding him to take breaks, which have become my specialties. I am also first aid.

As I won’t be teaching yoga as much as I thought I would in the next weeks, I hope to instead suss out a real writing project for the year.

Yes, the year.

This writing a book in a month thing is nonsense. Mostly, you get crap.

I haven’t picked a topic.

I hear that the world could use decent porn. And no, I don’t consider 50 Shades of Shamefully Promoting the Hapless Female Who Finds True Love Through Submission to an Abusive, Stalkerish Asshole, “decent porn”.

But Rob is really much better writing erotica than I am. If he doesn’t decide to teach chemistry at the community college when he retires, I think he should write porn. We’d be rich.

Maybe I should writing a dating book for the widowed?

LMAO.

Just kidding.

No, actually I have a couple of ideas but I am keeping them to myself. In fact, aside from this blog post, I doubt highly I will be discussing my project again until a first draft is done.

One thing is certain. I am beginning my training to complete the additional hours of yoga training I want to get my 500 Hour Certification in the province. Applied. Was Accepted. Will begin courses next weekend.

It will take a while. Two years? Perhaps a bit more or a bit less. But that is resolved.

The rest? There is no rush. February is still a ways off.

Dating While Widowed: Erasing Your Past


Miniature of Catherine de' Medici, "a rar...

Miniature of Catherine de’ Medici, “a rare portrait of Catherine before she was widowed in 1559, when she adopted the veil and severely plain dress of a widow.” (Hearn, Karen, ed. Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630. New York: Rizzoli, 1995. ISBN 0-8478-1940-X.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not much induces the widowed to pick up pitchforks and growl in unison like the idea that they should have to tear down their shrines in order to be decent candidates for others to consider dating.

“Anyone I date or remarry is just going to have to fine with being a member of a threesome.”

Or something to that sadly creepy refrain is what is generally trotted out and translates thusly,

“Love me. Love my dead spouse. And if you don’t, well than you are just too immature and/or insecure and/or possibly jealous to be a good fit for me, and we are NOT amused!”

This is often followed by truly Hallmark heart-warming anecdotes about someone’s auntie who was tragically widowed but went on to remarry this awesome guy was totally okay with the pictures, the shared headstone and being a hankie on anniversaries. There are, apparently, a Chicken Soup for the Soul’s worth of these selfless men, and women, who don’t mind building holidays around the widowed person’s in-laws, whole walls decorated with the awesomeness of love lost and don’t mind being “just the second wife/husband”.

Even more militant are the widowed parents determined to anchor their children to perpetual mourning by making sure that the “real mom/dad” is never forgotten. As if children are in danger of forgetting that their mother or father died young and need to have it in their face daily lest they develop a healthy parent/child relationship with their step-parent.

First, can we lay the “immature/insecure/jealous” thing to rest already? Drive a stake through this trope once and for all?

When your new partner intimates in some way that he/she isn’t feeling the love, whether the cause is pictures, in-laws or daily recounting of good times past, this is not about anything other than the perfectly normal desire we all have to be number one in the heart of the person we love. Whether you feel the feelings are justified or not is secondary to the actual issue, which is, your lover isn’t feeling loved.

They are, in fact, feeling second best at best and merely a warm body stand-in at worst. Making this be about you and your need to “grieve it all out” is probably a sign that your partner is right. You are not really as ready to date or remarry as you thought.

Look no one expects a widowed person to hide all aspects of their past. No one.

That is a myth.

What you are expected to do, however, when you decide to date, have a serious relationship or remarry is live in the present tense and put your primary focus on your new partner.

Would you be okay knowing that your new love spent most of his/her time being sorry that he/she wasn’t still with their last partner? Would a shrine to this on the mantle be okay? Arranging all your holidays around the last partner’s family would be acceptable? Would you like to hear daily how SoNSo was the best (fill in the blank) ever and wonder what that made you?

And yes, I concede that a few prospective partners might on the surface appear to be okay with a new husband or wife who primarily identified as a widowed person first and foremost, but I am going to say these saint like martyrs have a lot in common with unicorns, lusted after but still mythical. Even the most understanding partner has moments of “Oh, come on. Really?”

Do you have to purge your home of all traces of your late spouse when you begin to date?

I would say no. Dating is just getting to know you, having fun, assessing possibilities. I don’t know many adults who make it a habit of bringing home “just dates” to meet the children and check out the new foam mattress you got at Costco. But if a “date” progresses to “someone I am seeing regularly, seriously considering and/or shagging”, you should probably reassess your physical surroundings and ask yourself,

“If I were X, how would I feel about pictures, urns, closets waiting for a dead guy/gal to come home?”

And think about it from the perspective of the non-widowed person you used to be because the odds of dating a fellow widowed person aren’t that great (even if you do hang around the widowed internet chat rooms, message boards and websites). Your live person dating pool is more likely to be inhabited by the never-married, the serial monagamists and the divorced, who have no valid reason to expect that as a widowed person, you should enjoy some super-special pass on doing the heavy lifting of moving on anymore than they did because they have pasts too.

Are some mementos okay?

Of course! Whoever said they weren’t?

When you hear “it’s a good idea to clean out closets and tone down the presence of your late spouse in your living space” and you translate it to “shred everything!” perhaps reassessing your relationship readiness, or asking yourself just why it’s critical to your children’s well-being that an entire wall of the family room be dedicated/dominated to your late spouse, is in order.

It’s perfectly normal to have a few things out and about if you like, but it’s not so much to keep a photo on the nightstand if you are knocking the headboard with someone else or to insist that toothbrushes or robes be left in place like they were evidence at a crime scene. At some point, a late spouse’s personal items have to be cleared out and put away and that time – if you are a decent person who values the feelings of those you might get intimately involved with – is before you get intimately involved.

Why?

Because not doing so is a way of controlling your new relationship and new love by putting him/her in a Catch-22 that can only end with your dismissing him/her as “immature, insecure and jealous”.  You get the “poor widow me” high road and he/she gets the a scornful boot toe up the bum-hole.

Anyone who gets involved with a widowed person has empathy for the situation, wants to be helpful and understanding and usually goes above and beyond in the pursuit, but every one of these folks is hoping that at some point you will come to value them as more than “the person I am with because the person I would rather be with is dead”.

That’s what constant reminders of your late spouse – in any form – is saying to those you date and re-mate.

Even when you think you are being selfless by not spending every single holiday with the in-laws or by keeping at least the bedroom dead spouse picture free, there is a fine line between occasional reminders as you move on and build a new life and set of memories/memorabilia with someone else and being that guy or gal who is still so focused on their late spouse that people silently wonder why your new spouse is still with you because they can’t believe how appallingly selfish you are.

How do I know if I am over the line?

You could ask. Really. Ask. And not in a way that is designed to catch out your new partner so you can proclaim “I would never ask you to erase your dead spouse (if you had one) from your life!” Followed by you bursting into tears and him/her feeling like an asshole.

Or you could just be honest with yourself and assess your living space as though you weren’t widowed. Think about how often you interject conversations with “we” memories when the “we” is you and the late spouse and not you and the one you are currently with.

You’ll know. You probably already do.

What if my new love is fine with everything?

They are lying to you because they love you. Didn’t you ever put up with crap from someone just because you loved them so very much in the hopes that one day he/she would just see how awesomely understanding you were and change their ways?

No one is fine living in the perpetual shade of a dead love. No one is okay with being number two (or three or four because some of you even downgrade your new partner to a status below that of your children) in someones’ heart.

Few people are all that enamoured of their own in-laws let alone a second set (or third if they happen to be divorced or widowed themselves), who take precedence or are allowed to interfere or dictate or are happy living in a house that clearly isn’t theirs because their pictures, taste in decor or perhaps even their personal stuff hasn’t any room to compete with the pictures, favorite chair and flotsam of the dead person who was there before them.

Everyone wants to be cherished and feel as though he/she matters most to the person who matters most in his/her heart.

Even if you are dating a fellow widowed person. Even then. There is a line that when it is crossed, hearts will be broken and it’s not insecurity or immaturity. It’s you who will have done that by not having a clear understanding that moving on means doing just that in deed as well as words.

There is no way to erase your past and reasonable people know this. There is a point when you are wanting to have your yummy chocolate cake past and eat it while your new love wonders how long you are going to sit there and stuff your face in front of him/her.

Choosing to date again (and it’s a choice because accidental dating just doesn’t happen) is being ready to live in the now and give yourself fully and be more concerned with the feelings and well-being of your lover than you are with the past and hanging on to it.