Friday, April 28, 2017

Anticipation? or Anxiety?

Sometimes you can just smell the stink of impending failure permeating the otherwise pleasant bouquet that is your life. Such is the case with my upcoming trip to Jersey to begin the process of closing down the Spotswood house and getting it on the market for sale. What, on the surface, seems like a relatively simple thing has the potential to be a real cluster ****

Before anyone gets all carried away with themselves, particularly the Debbie-downers who have been (im)patiently waiting for this Georgia relocation plan to fail, everything here in Sheila-land is beyond wonderful. Amazingly, Sheila has put up with whatever infectious crazy foolishness I’ve introduced, to the point where she actually SUPPORTS my nutty ideas. (I think Sheila may have a few loose screws herself) (But I do see her shaking her head more often these days)  For anyone expecting this life change to crash, sorry to disappoint … 
Here’s where we are right now …

In three days, I’m flying into Newark (yes, in first class … it only costs $79 more) (I’m 6’5”, I’m not sitting in coach between a fat sweating guy and some chick with nose rings trying to sleep on my shoulder) (no offense intended to nose-ring wearers everywhere) (definite offense to fat sweating guys, though … eat a salad once in a while, ‘ya porker), then renting a Penske 12’ cube van truck. The 12’ truck will be my “ride” while up in Jersey … this can be compared to my fancy-pants Lexus … but isn’t really suited for casual driving. I’m getting the truck because I need to bring only a few things back here to the ATL (yup, I’m sticking with “the ATL” from now on when describing the greater Atlanta area) and the cost to have a common carrier/mover handle these few things was brutal.
Think I'll be hitting any traffic on the way down???
In fairness, I realize I’m being quoted minimum billing to move my junk from Jersey to Georgia, so I’m not mad at the excessively high quotes I got from movers, but I’m also not completely stupid. It’s cheaper by nearly $2k to fly up, rent a luxurious 12’ truck and drive it back down myself. Not as nice as flying in first class, but it’ll have to do.

And what is this treasure trove that I have to move to Atlanta (oops, sorry, I forgot) the ATL, you ask? Here’s my list of “Stuff to Bring Down”:

  • Fridge - ours down here is getting old and tired, the one in Jersey is just 1 year old, super nice and barely used.
  • Coffee Table & Secretary – fancy stuff, all hand carved Chinese craftsmanship, Sheila really likes it
  • Books, Records, CD’s – I have some cool stuff, and Sheila is a bit of a book collecting nut-job aficionado
  • EZ-Up Folding Tent – It’s a good one, we can use it as a cabana of sorts when we go to the beach for vacation (yes, it’s beach, not “the Shore”)

And that’s it, aside from some miscellaneous stuff hanging around … a cute fruit holder thing, a big cutting board, some paintings/pictures, a Mighty-Mite bass neck, a double bass case with wheels, a portable AC unit for Sheila’s sewing room upstairs which gets HOT at times even with the central air on full blast, some other small stuff … not much.

So far.

And that’s where this master plan can turn into mush; once I start looking around, will I be able to just leave it? To be honest, Sheila’s (and, now, mine, too) house is big, certainly bigger than anything I’ve ever lived in, and while she has it loaded up good with cool vintage-y art deco items there is still ample room to shove my Jersey “could be landfill trash” into the house without making too big of a mess. The thing is, why would I want to do that? Do I really need yet one more set of towels here in Georgia, particularly since Sheila could easily re-stock the local Hampton Inn in the event of a towel emergency? No, the answer is, “no”, keep the Jersey stuff in Jersey.

My idea is to have an estate re-seller come in and liquidate the home, just sell off whatever is left over after my 12’ cube van loadout. The shame of it is that Sheila could do that, easily, since she has very good chops with stuff like this. However, we’re here in the gorgeous South and she isn’t going to be spending the summer selling off my crap in Jersey. Why spend time in Spotswood NJ when we look at this every single day?

What I am planning on doing is keeping Sheila on speed-dial (she’s not coming up, somebody still needs work around here) so she can keep me on track. Sheila has that polite Southern way of letting you know you’re an idiot without actually saying the word “idiot” so hopefully she’ll make sure I don’t do anything dumb. A simple “I don’t think that’s a good idea” from Sheila is more than enough to stop me in my tracks, just like she did the other night when it was raining and I suggested we get a couple of drinks, sit on the deck and see what happens has done many times over.

It’s odd to look at possessions you have lugged around for most of your adult life and realize that they really no longer have any meaning to you. That weird little bud vase, where did that ever come from in the first place? And why was it kept for so long? And that plate with the small chip out of it that acts as a tray for one of the plants … really? Keeping a broken plate? I vividly recall moving that plate with the plants and thinking, “What in the world am I carrying this piece of crap for?”

Becoming a widower, meeting a new life partner, retiring, moving … all significant events by themselves, perhaps a touch overwhelming taken as a whole group but the impetus for me to look at things and realize that, yes, that bud vase is really not attractive and the chipped plate is just a chipped plate, not some treasured memory. It’s just stuff and it shouldn’t be hard to let it go … as long as I keep Sheila on speed-dial …

You can subscribe to my blog by logging in at the link provided for desktop viewers at the top of the blog, or by sending a "Subscribe" message to for mobile users who cannot view the link at the top of the blog.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

From Jersey to Georgia:: Reflecting

From Jersey to Georgia:: Reflecting: A blog about a widower musician starting a new life, New Jersey to Georgia. This blog generally trends towards a lighter look at the oddity that is my life, but as we approach the anniversary of Bunny's pas...

Monday, April 24, 2017


This blog generally trends towards a lighter look at the oddity that is my life, but as we approach the anniversary of Bunny's passing, which was the impetus for this journal, there are a few things I feel the need to write down. Don't worry, there will still be some posts providing the chuckles, but a few more serious blogs will be sprinkled in. Just wanted to give you all the heads-up ...

Widowed status is a strange situation, very unlike what I expected, if there is any way to expect such a thing. I think there are some common scenarios that many widowed people encounter, and of course, some that are quite specific to individuals, based on their own set of circumstances.  And then, there are those things that come up out of nowhere, both good and bad, that just completely knock you off course.  

For example, many (and there is no way to over-emphasize the word "many") people you considered dear and fast friends when you were a "couple" with your deceased spouse just disappear. Gone. The same people you spent holidays with, laughed and cried with over the years, watched each other's families grow up, gone. What happened?

I think, in some cases, they were friends of your wife/husband and now that your spouse is gone, that common thread is gone. Or, they don't quite know what to say, so they say nothing at all. Or, they simply don't want to deal with your anguish, so away they go.  Of course, they are "always there for you" and advise "just call if you need anything at all". But for me, I didn't know WHAT I needed when first facing her death, other than a return to normal with her back at home, yelling at me for not paying a bill on time or making my favorite dinner or sitting down with her to watch that same old movie yet one more time. Those disappearing friends are not going to fill that void, and they know they can't so they just ... go away ...

What I didn't expect were those friends, some just casual acquaintances, that did become a firm support network for me. People, now nearly one year later, who continue to stay in touch and share my joys, and tribulations, and life events, good and bad. They want nothing from our relationship other than to maintain it. They somehow know, inherently, just what to do, what to say or not say, when to call or write ... I don't know how that is the case, but they just KNOW what to do.   

Anyone who is widowed will likely understand what I'm saying here. Sadly, the widowed community is massive, yet you feel so alone when you first "join", a club you most definitely did not want to be in. When you're first widowed, in those early days, that's when you really, really need your support network. And I got it from some ... A brother who, the night my wife died, ignored my plea for alone time, brought over a pizza and some scotch and let me know that I wasn't alone. Co-workers who picked up my load at work. My daughter, who wasn't sure what to do, but was absolutely there whenever I needed her, despite her own grief. 

And there were others, of course, who gave support. My employer, a massive commitment from them for "whatever you need" that never wavered. My close musician friends, giving me the stability of playing with them in a creative environment, an outlet for my emotions that only a musician could give. My music partner, who I didn't even realize had become my best friend during all those years of playing together, supporting every decision I made, non-judgmental yet probing to be sure I had thought it all out, inviting me into his home and family repeatedly for a meal and some semblance of normalcy.

As anyone who follows this blog knows, a few months after my wife died I met Sheila, also widowed (within one week of the time my wife passed) and with extraordinarily similar life circumstances, and that initial on-line mutual grieving has blossomed into an incredible new life together. And when my life took this unexpected giant turn, those who had disappeared went further into the recesses while those who supported me embraced my good news. And oddly enough, those who shrunk away seem somehow miffed that I'm not still a crumbling mess curled up in the fetal position, mourning the death of my wife of 35 years. 

I'm not unique, or alone, in this scenario. Some people simply cannot deal with grief, I understand that. But for some of us who are widowed, what we really want during those initial days/weeks is "normal", not a constant reminder that our lives have been forever changed. We know it's changed, believe me. My best friend and his wife understood that and provided whatever "normal" they could, all the while fully supporting my need to grieve.   

I’m well aware that the death of someone important in your life affects each of us differently, and Bunny was important in many people’s lives. But she was not more important to anyone else than she was to me, no matter what people may think. In too many instances people expected me to give comfort to them, to let them know it would be okay. That was not going to happen and for those who somehow felt slighted or otherwise left out because I couldn’t comfort them, I think you need to re-examine your viewpoint.

Coincidentally (or not) the people who have turned out to be a major support network for me are also the same people who celebrate my new life with Sheila. They see the joy that a great relationship brings, they can balance the idea that a new relationship does not supplant the previous one, but rather, compliments and builds on all those positives. It’s not a betrayal to the deceased spouses in any way, although both Sheila and I felt twinges of that type of shame at first; both of us openly talk about our prior lives before we met and both of us celebrate each other’s successful marriages. We take the time to enjoy our incredible good fortune, knowing that far too many widowed people don’t get this type of “second chance” at happiness.

My initial intent when starting this blog, besides the idea of getting my own inner thoughts out, was to let my network of people know that I was doing okay … damaged and hurting, but okay. After I relocated here to Georgia to be with Sheila, the blog was a good way to keep friends and family updated about my life changes, including retirement. Based on feedback, I’m assuming the blog is serving its purpose and I find readership increases steadily (only proving that many of you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time).

As I approach the 1 year mark, I wanted to let all know that I have no intention of elevating the anniversary of Bunny’s death to some type of “event”. I’m sure I’ll have some words (when DON’T I have words??), but a celebration of her passing is not of interest to me. But, to those who have been so supportive over the past year, thank you all … you have made it easier to get through and I appreciate your rooting for me as my life adjusts in this wonderful new direction. And to those who haven’t been able to stay in touch, I fully understand the difficulty of the situation and there are no hard feelings at all … I hope your lives are blessed in some way for having known Bunny.

In any event, thanks to all for helping through this past year ….

You can subscribe to my blog by logging in at the link provided for desktop viewers at the top of the blog, or by sending a "Subscribe" message to for mobile users who cannot view the link at the top of the blog.