As one of the few widows still on this site I have a different path to tread to those who are still caregivers at the coal face. I have had all those years of caregiving my husband Ray but that ended nearly three years ago now. September is a hard month for me as it is Father's day the first Sunday in September in Australia, then Ray's birthday on the 8th, then the anniversary of his death on 19th. At three years I will not cry the river of tears I did in the first two years after his death but I will (and do) feel sad. And I guess I will every year when this time comes around.
Life goes on for me a little faster as we go towards Spring which should get underway by the middle of the month. It is time to plant and so I have been repotting plants, filling the troughs with annuals and the deeper pots with seedlings so I will have lettuce and spinach and hopefully tomatoes for salads I have lots of parsley but some of the other herbs need replacing, hopefully the mint will come back soon. Usually you can't kill mint but six weeks without water seems to have done it. Brett is a good neighbour and puts my mail inside and picks up the papers but never seems to water the plants.
It is this time of the year I miss being near my children, as third term ends there are a lot of events like Grandparents Day and school concerts, some fetes and Market Days. I miss out on all of these as my grandchildren are all so far away. A friend was telling me tonight that he is going to his grand daughters school for an egg and bacon roll which she has paid for herself. She said he is to help her celebrate "Grandfather's Day". Her Dad works and can't go but he will be her special guest. I get a bit teary when I hear stories like that as I know how much Ray would have loved that. No matter the distance we had to go to something like that we would have managed it somehow.
Travelling alone is one of the things I am getting used to thanks to the two trips I have done to England since Ray died. Planning them has helped with that. I always feel I have some backing in England as I have the cousins but still have to look up bus and train times etc when I am on my own and that has helped to give me confidence. So I can fly without thinking about it and travelling on buses and trains is not a problem. Of course I do my research first and make sure the times etc all mesh up. But it is not as scary as it used to be.
I was hoping by now I would have a travelling companion, a couple of my widowed friends have expressed interest but so far nothing has come of it. It is harder than you think to co-ordinate dates, times, places you would both like to see. Of course I have plenty of people I can visit within Australia too, so plan to do some of that travelling north in autumn and winter next year. I can say I would like to do some different things this summer so might add picnics locally to my calendar, with or without others joining me. In most cases it is easier if I do things on my own occasionally, again as a confidence builder.
One thing I still have to do is learn to be happy with my own company. I am a gregarious person and love to be around people and that is fine most of the time. But I also have to make myself content when I am alone. It is one of the new things that being a widow has taught me, that there is going to be a lot of time when I am going to be on my own. There is plenty of activity in my life, as you know I tend to pack it full, but I have to be content also with periods of inactivity and silence. That one is a bit hard for me but master it I will. If I try to pack too much into my life I know I can suffer burnout so to stop that happening I need to learn to relax and enjoy a solitary life.
People who know me casually say how well and happy I look, funny how you can seem happy while feeling so miserable sometimes. I learned that as a caregiver. Put a smile on your face and go out and people will just assume all is well and you are happy. Of course I am not depressed or desperate but with September and the dates ahead I do feel a little apprehensive. Of course I am not going around telling people about it but it is in the back of my mind. I come across other widows in my pastoral work for the church and have learned to shut down my own feelings while I listen to their stories, that is what I am there for. And I do feel that special empathy with them and do assure them time passes and heals as it goes. But it is true you never forget.
So I try to fill the days with worthwhile activities, eat good food, get plenty of exercise, get plenty of rest. In fact do all the things I have so many times told other people to do. And of course life goes on.