Oct 26, 2020
You've got to create this new normal. You just got to find what makes you happy. And create this new normal and what makes you happy may be almost very, very different from what it was with your husband, but it's just you. And so you you weren't meant to just be miserable. Life's going to be good.
Char is classy with a little hint of sassy. And today she is going deep, telling us about the love of her life, her soulmate, husband, and travel partner, Roy: what she loved about him and what is was like to walk with him through cancer, to bury him, and to live, fully, a life she never would have chosen for herself.
As I mentioned, Char is also known as the Traveling Black Widow, a handle that her daughter Liz created for her. As Char tells it, Liz got tired of sitting, one-on-one, looking through photos and thought that her mom could benefit from a larger audience.
I had no idea what Instagram was. And I didn't really want to be on there because like a lot of people, I think my age, we feel like, well, I don't want everybody knowing my business and in my life and not realizing I had total control over that.
But it it sort of took off rather quickly. I was featured a picture of me on a boat in New Zealand at the Milford Sound that picture was featured on Travel Noir. And lots of people start following me then and so then know just sort of grew from there. But that was the first time I was ever featured and that was a pretty big online Instagram site. And and so that sort of launched me, really.
Char is also a court-appointed special advocate, a CASA, for two families
I see the children monthly and sometimes there's court. There's other kinds of meetings with the other providers and people supporting the kids. And that has, you know, taken some of my time and been very, very gratifying for me before COVID and and during this lockdown time.
And, like a lot of us, she has spent a fair amount of Netflix recently, especially Bollywood films.
And then it seems the way that Netflix has designed their programs, they are just so captivating. And when you get to the end, they go into the other one before you can stop yourself.
Absolutely, they've got the psychology down.
They really do. I just don't even understand what kind of marketing mentality came up with that, because it's pure genius.
Char and Roy first met in Cleveland. She was a teacher who had just moved from Detroit, a city that she loved. She wasn’t thrilled about the move and kept spending weekends back in Detroit. Until all of that changed one Friday morning in the main office at the school.
And this really, really handsome guy, young guy goes walking through. And so I asked the secretary, I was like, who's that guy? And says, Oh, that's Mr. Simpson. He's the basketball coach. Is he single? She's like, Yeah. I said, OK, right. So I thought, yeah, I told my department chairman because he had been trying to match me up with people from all over town. I was always having these blind dates in my department chairman had come up with.
So I told him I saw this guy in the office this morning. And when I saw him, I just thought, wow, he's so handsome, he'd make beautiful children.
And that actually was my thought standing there in the office. So anyhow, he said, we'll stay in town this weekend and Friday after school. We all go to Happy Hour. So instead of just driving right back to Detroit, one should go to happy hour with all the teachers. So anyhow, I went to Happy Hour. He called Mr. Simpson over to our table and introduced me and we chatted. And that was sort of the beginning of it.
That evening I went to the school's football game and he was there and he ended up sitting over with our department and and from there just sort of took off.
They dated for two years before getting married. Roy moved out of education and a job transfer brought the couple to Indiana. Char sang in the choir at their church and Roy was an usher.
What were some of the things that you just really enjoyed doing with one another?
I would say most everything, just anything that we had to do, we just we really, really I do believe we're soul mates. I know some people don't believe in that term, but I really do. And we just enjoyed each other's company.
He was not a person to have lots of guy friends. And so, I mean, he had some friends, but it wasn't like he wasn't hanging out with the guys and going to stuff with the guys.
He could enjoy going to a football game with me, I think as much as he'd enjoy going to one with one of the guys. And so we did do just all kinds of things, you know, just within our marriage from just being at home, doing puzzles, jigsaw puzzles to going out, fishing together. When we dated, we went fishing a lot up around Cleveland. There are lots of really Great Lakes in Lake Erie. And so we did lots of fishing and just always spent a lot of time together.
He was so, so, so helpful at home and he grew more helpful. My my daughter sometimes kids me about how I didn't do anything. And I told her it was a process over the years because I stayed home until she quit. When she was born, I stayed home till kindergarten. And so I said I didn't just stay home all day doing nothing, waiting for him to get there and do everything. But once once I went back to work, you know, we sort of shared chores.
But he probably did more than the average husband. He was just really just a really great guy.
And I think part of that was that his he had a twin sister and five other sisters. And so he was just raised in a home where the guys really looked out for the girls and with him having a twin, he said on his first day of kindergarten, his mom and dad really talked to him about you. Make sure you take care of Connie and you do this and you do that and make sure she has her book bag and her coat and just all these things.
So he was always used to looking out for a woman.
Yeah, I love that. That's really sweet. Family of origin can shape you.
By way of a sidenote, I interviewed Char’s daughter, Liz, in an earlier Handle with Care episode. Liz is a dentist who was injured at work. If you haven’t listened, make that your next listen…and I talk about her love for her dad, Roy.
Well, and I remember Liz talking even in her interview, and still she just your daughter carries with her such an impact that he had as a father in her life, you know, and just carrying that in a really powerful way.
Yeah, yeah. He really was an amazing father. And she had a really rough time when he got sick and and when he died, I think she was it was is difficult while he was sick, as it was when he died for her.
Roy started to get sick in 2005. His initial diagnosis was grim, just a few months. In the end, he lived for two and a half years past his diagnosis.
How did you feel when you first got the news?
Oh, when I first got the news, I mean, I was absolutely devastated. You know, you go to the doctor and you know you know that it's something is just not right. And so you're expecting bad news and maybe even cancer because cancer really runs in his family. So you know that maybe there's cancer, but you never expect someone to say three to four months to live.
That is just I mean, I I got goosebumps just now saying that again, because it's just the most shocking news. It's just the most shocking news.
You walk into a doctor's office, one person, and you come out almost a widow named.
What did a particularly challenging like day or moment like, as you think about those 30 months, what was a particularly hard time for you?
Well, just. I guess maybe sleeping I think sleeping was was sort of difficult because, you know, you have when there's something on your mind or even you don't think it's on your mind and you wake up during the night, I don't know what it is about the human brain, but certainly for my brain, when I wake up during the night, I have the very worst thoughts, just horrible, horrible thoughts.
And trying to get back to sleep was just so difficult. And sometimes I'd wake up because of a dream. You know, I would just dream that I was at a funeral or mainly I would sort of dream I was at his funeral or I was a dream. I was picking out coffins or something.
And then your your psyche just wakes you up, you know, it just won't let you endure that for so long. So you wake up, then you're laying there, you know, and here's this person who, you know, sounds OK and seems OK.
But to know inside all this is going on. And one day. Yeah, I am going to be at your funeral. It just I just think sleeping was just the worst part of it all for me.
Oh yeah. Well and when you're not well rested, the challenge of meeting whatever the next day brings is all that much harder.
What, what was did you feel like you had a community of people around you that during those 30 months were supportive and helpful?
It was the most incredible time in my life. I normally have, you know, two or three really close girlfriends throughout life. I've not been a person with, you know, big crowds of girlfriends. I've always had, you know, two or three that were really close.
And for some reason during that time, I had so doggone many girlfriends, you know, things that happened. I had been in a a group at church. This pastoral care counseling had been trained to become a counselor.
And this other girl that was with me when we'd go out to visit family, she and I became so close. As a matter of fact, we were so close that when we went to the doctor appointment where we found out he had the three months to live, she was with us when I told her we were going to that this well, I'll go with you. And and my sister in law had told me also she'd just take someone with you when you go to the doctor to get this report so somebody can take notes on what the doctor says.
Because my husband's sister, had she's been through all three or three or four of the siblings already dying from cancer. So she sort of knew the ropes on it. And so she said, take a friend.
So I took this friend and she was just she was just the most valuable resource and all. She was just so great. And I just I don't know.
Neighbors somehow became friendlier neighbors. You know, you just wave at the mailbox. Well, all of a sudden, you know, they're dropping by. And that whole 30 months, there were just I had this enormous support group.
It was so amazing.
Oh, that's so amazing, because some of the people I actually have not even seen since after his funeral. Yeah. And, you know, and yet, you know, during that time, you know, somebody would oh, like one day I got home from work and we've got a pretty big yard and lots of trees. And I mean, there were leaves every that first fall that October when we were when he was just feeling so weak and couldn't get the leaves or anything.
And it had to have been after the diagnosis. It must have been the next fall anyway. And I mentioned to one of the guys that were, you know, taught in the classroom next to me, and I said something about, oh, my gosh, you know, my husband, he's just so weak. And all this is the I pass by your house the other day. So you guys got a lot of leaves. I was like, yeah, yeah, we've got to, you know, got to do something about that.
That afternoon, I get home from work late and here are a bunch of guys from my school, some of the male teachers at my school out in my yard raking leaves. One of us got this mower he's doing leaves there about four or five guys. He lived close to me. The other guys didn't even I didn't actually even know where they lived, but he had organized this thing of getting our leaves up. And I don't know, away just sobbing, I was like, boy, I'm looking forward to all these people raking leaves.
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Will you tell me a little bit more about what his final days were like for you?
It is just so painful to watch someone who has been this handsome man that you saw across a crowded room and to see him go down to skin and bones and lose his spirit, you know, just become a real quiet kind of person.
And just all the changes that someone goes through, I think especially when they battle cancer and they really just want to keep going and they keep plodding along. Being there alongside for me and my personality was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life.
A few months before he died, Roy and Char went down to Florida for spring break.
And so we had gone up to Amelia Island and there was a place there where you could arrange these deep sea fishing trips. And so we we were staying in Ponte Vedra, which was, I don't know, maybe 40 minutes from there.
Anyway, we drove up one day to check out, you know, get signed up and see the situation for the deep sea fishing. And on the way back, he was like, oh, sure, these roads were we on?
And I was like, we should stay on this one. And he was sort of like getting lost driving.
And we were just on the main freeway that went right to our hotel.
And so that was sort of disturbing because the next morning when he got up to go for the deep sea fishing, he he was going to go alone while he came back early morning. And I was like, hey, what happened? And he's like, I don't know, I couldn't find my way up there. And I was like, What you've got? Oh, my gosh, what about the maps and the brochures?
And he's like, I could I don't know, I just couldn't find my way up there. So it's like, I don't know. I just didn't feel like doing so. He had come back.
Well, that I mean, my heart was just beating heart in my chest because it's like, oh my God, how could he not read the map? And, you know, and yet he could drive. He could see. And it's like, I don't know, I just was almost just in a panic and trying to stand there and look cool.
But anyway, we came on back home and also while we were in Florida, the thing to that was just breaking my heart when we would go out to dinner. Sometimes one night he was like, you know, I'm just I'm not terribly hungry. And I had ordered chicken wings. He's like, I just have one of your wings. I was like, what am I, wings? One of these, like, you know, just let's just split to order a chicken wings.
And for a grown man, six two to split ordered chicken wings. Yeah, it was like, oh, God, what's going on? What is going on?
And anyway, so we flew home Sunday, the next Saturday, that Saturday morning.
He always woke up real early and he made coffee and always just brought me up a cup of coffee. Well, when he walked in the room with the cup of coffee for me, he walked into the to the post the bedpost and coffee went everywhere.
And he was like, oh, my God. And as he was walking and he says, I just took your coffee into the guest room, I was like, you know, and anyhow, he walks into the bedpost and that moment, I know. This is it. This is it. And I called 911. I said, know my husband is just walked into a bedposts and he but he can see and anyhow they came out, went to emergency room and that's when they found cancer had spread to his brain.
As long as it was it was everywhere.
It was everywhere. And so what I had been seeing in Florida was just all indicative of the beginning of the end. And it was, you know, he went downhill. That was April 12th, that Saturday morning. And and he died June 30th.
Mhm. So that's when you just sort of couldn't battle when it gets to that point, you know, you're just just sort of everyday going down a little bit.
So that was the those were the worst weeks of my life. It was absolutely horrible. His sister came up. His twin sister came and stayed for a little while so I could finish out the school year.
And in the end, it just was downhill from that point. Yeah, well, and I. There is walking with someone through their dying. And then there is the reality of looking at life that extends beyond them.
What, what sort of feelings? We're confronting you the day after his funeral as you woke up as a widow.
Well, that's pretty horrible. I'm. I guess I almost I don't know, I'll have to think for a moment how I really felt, just the part, I guess that does not so horrible.
It's like once everybody's gone, it's a friend of mine, my best friend from college. She came down and she was here for a long time and she stayed after the funeral for about a week. So, you know, we would go out and have lunch and, you know, do things. So, you know, I think she was just really deliberately trying to keep me really active. And and my daughter had had to go somewhere or I don't know if she went back for a summer program at school or something, but she had ask my friend to stay in town with me and just give me some time to transition to the empty house.
And and when my friend did leave that next week, then it was I mean, the house is just so silent. It's so sad. It's I haven't had that kind of intense sadness again in life that I had that whole summer.
I mean, I would I would try to get up and move around because I'm the kind of person that for me, walking is therapeutic. So I would try to get up and go out for a walk and just walking down the street and passing a neighbor's house that maybe he always chatted with or somebody driving by see me and they stopped the car.
You know, they look over Charlotte, how are you? Well, then I burst out crying. I hate when people would say, how are you? That was just. Oh, gosh, just the worst. Or if I go to I know one day I went to Target and one of my coworkers like Charlotte and we're having this bubbly conversation. I'm all great. And then he's like, Now, Charlotte, tell me, how are you?
Well, when he said that, like, open the floodgates, I mean, there's something so loud that he's like, oh, I'm so sorry. I'm so so people are walking by looking at me. It was so embarrassing. And I did that for the longest. For the longest.
You know, you can be so composed and think, OK, I'm going to go to church. And if someone says, how you doing? I'm going to I'm going to keep it all in. And it's always that person that sort of sneaks up on you that you are expecting them because the conversations going merrily along and then they turn like, so tell me. Right.
I really feel and I don't know just when people would say that I couldn't hold it in.
Did you did you leave those interactions like at church or target thinking? I wish they never would have said anything.
Yes. Yeah, yeah. Because I would even really, like, avoid people, you know, I would just sort of, you know, if I saw somebody sort of coming my way because like at work, it was so bad. It was really bad.
Because if, you know, if you went in the mailroom, you know, all the the teachers mailboxes and stuff. And so you're in there, you happen to be the only person. And then someone comes in in like, oh, I heard about your husband this summer. I'm so, so sorry. How are you? Yeah. Oh, man. Now here I am in the mail room. I make up for getting what I love. It was just that was the spot.
So the how are you did not feel supported. That felt like something that kind of derailed you. What were things that you would say this this actually was helpful? Like this was a good thing that people did to support me.
Hmm, well, I don't think they meant to derail me, it just did, you know, because I've sort of learned from that one. I'm talking to someone who's lost someone to not go into that deep. So how are you?
I know how that just pierces your heart, but there were just maybe nice notes that people would send and, you know, that you could see in private and deal with in private or I don't know, this sounds probably so weird,
But I just really liked when people kept it sort of lighthearted. Yeah. You know, and they were just lighthearted because one morning out of when I was at the mall in the some friend of his, this lady who was also a friend of mine, that they had worked together and they were really close.
And and so I passed by just like, hey, how are you doing? I'm like, fine, great. Well, you look great. So you must be great. And then she kept going great.
Yeah, well, and I, I hear also some of the dynamics of different personalities in that moment, too, and tell me tell me if this sounds like it fits, but that sense of being put on the spot all of a sudden with people and really that that felt it sounds uncomfortable to you of like, "don't don't put me on the spot to have to go through all of that right now." Like it caught you off guard in ways that really felt, you know, uncaring, even if they didn't intend it to.
Yeah, I guess maybe that was the element of it, that that just doesn't quite fit with my personality. Maybe just as a control person being very controlling. I didn't appreciate or it's not that I didn't appreciate because I knew they were caring, but it's just that it didn't work well for me to just have that on me like that.
Well, and especially if it was going to ruin your makeup like the one I'm already dealing with this hard thing. Yeah.
And it you know, it's just it's so hard because you have expected your life to go a particular direction. And and it just it just like this wasn't the plan at all. I mean, I felt like my husband probably would die before me. And and I think a lot of women, we sort of know statistically that that probably will happen. So we're prepared to be a widow someday like it. Eighty something. Eighty five, but not as a younger you like.
My husband was 60 when he died. Well, I certainly did not expect to be a widow.
Char and Roy would travel a lot. They thought that, in retirement, maybe they would rent and RV and explore or go to California.
So every year we were going someplace around the country to see is this where maybe we'd like to live when we retire? So once again and
I know single women retire in other places, but I haven't been able to figure out where I want to retire by myself other than just here in my house. So I'm still right here in Indianapolis.
I have no place in mind that I might want to move. For retirement, I don't know, I just doesn't seem like a fun thing to me to move to another city where I don't know anyone and have to meet a lot of new people all by myself.
Yeah, the recalibrating of what for so long had been a together thing.
Yeah. Yeah. And as long as he's been gone, I still have not decided on a place that I'd want to relocate.
Well, and I imagine also in the dailiness like in any marriage there, there tends to be like a rough kind of division of tasks. You know, even like you said, he would bring you coffee in the morning. Did you find yourself as a newly widowed person confronted by his absence? In a lot of ways, like, oh, I didn't have to do this because Roy used to do this, but now I need to.
Oh, my gosh, there were just so many things because he really like I said over the years, he became more and more giving. And I would like to think I did, too. I mean, he never had to pick out a stitch of his clothes, and yet he was most well dressed men in town because I love shopping and shopping in the men's department for all his stuff, too. But he did. He didn't mind doing stuff around the house and he did a lot.
So there were so many things that I had to learn. And a friend of mine has a home and she's never been married and she's a homeowner. And so I would have to call her all kinds of times about just different things and well, who do I call to get this repaired? Or one time there was the scratching sound in the in the master in my bedroom behind the fireplace, you could hear that an animal somehow was behind the wall there in the bedroom like two o'clock in the morning.
And I was just sitting there like, oh, my God, who do I call? What do I do?
And I end up calling my beautician because she has this uncle that she's always talking about. Uncle Benny and Uncle Benny do everything I said. OK, I'll call Angel and ask her what Uncle Benny know what this could be scratching on the wall of my bedroom at 2:00 in the morning.
And so, like the next morning, Uncle Benny came to my house and came up and he looked around the house and it turned out it was a raccoon. And so I had to get a service and all that dealt with getting raccoons out of your house. He was out it wasn't out in the house. So you could see it, but he was within the behind the drywall. So it was just stuff where I never knew who to call. It was just it was horrible.
It was so horrible. Right.
Well, and I imagine those are the moments like you don't prepare for them. They just catch you off guard where you think, oh, yeah. Here's one more reminder ride of my life being different than I thought it would be.
Absolutely. Because you prepare, I think, at least for me, you do prepare financially because you you know, it does hit you like, wait a minute, I'm going to be living off of one income. You know, when you do start thinking about that, you know, I didn't want to discuss it with people because I didn't want anyone to think that I'm thinking about him dying. But I would start reading articles or watching Suze Orman and stuff and just to at least be prepared financially, like, how am I going to handle this?
What am I going to do? But the other things and I think probably anybody who naturally would think financially to have that figured out, but other stuff like home repairs and oh, just there's just so many things that come at you like that summer. I don't know why I always think of this, but it bothered me so much. A friend called and invited me. She was having a big cookout, I guess that maybe it was Labor Day weekend.
And so she called in and it was a pitch-in you brought a dish and all that. And she's like, and I want you to come. And I was like, OK, let me think about it. When I was at that point, still crying too much, really be around a lot of people. But when I thought about it, it's like I don't I couldn't remember when I had gone to a cookout alone.
Right. I could not picture myself driving to her house, getting out of the car, taking a decision. I don't know. And I know it's not a big deal. I'm sure a lot of people listening to this think, well, that's no big deal. That was the biggest deal to me. Yeah. I just couldn't picture going to a cookout by myself.
Right. Well, I appreciate you sharing that because I think it gives voice to those little moments like life is made up of like their little moments that are big moments because it's just where it hits home exactly like you said, this reflection of it's been it's been decades since I've done this
Right, I step into all of these places, which because I was getting my nails done and I was telling my nail tech, I said I'm invited to a cookout. Saturday, I sit in. I haven't been to a cookout by myself in so long, I said I just and then all of a sudden I start sobbing there with her and she's like, well, you haven't been don't you know, just go ahead. Don't worry about it. But that I will never forget how upset I was at the thought that she really was expecting me to come.
And it's like, do you have any idea the last time I walked into a cookout by myself.
What are some of the other misconceptions that people have about life as a widow or or something that you say? I just wish people like I wish I could flip the switch and people could just get this about what it is to be a widow. Like, I wish I didn't have to explain it, OK?
I definitely know how I feel. I feel very strongly that I feel my husband, as I said earlier, my husband and I really we're soulmates and I do not believe that there is another soulmate on the planet for me. Some people seem to think maybe there is. I don't think so. I figure, you know, soul mate, that's the singular. You get one and that's it. And so when people ask if I'm dating or they feel like, oh, but, oh, you know, all your Dunedoo should be dating or you just seem like such a lively, fun person and oh, there's the you should go and they start naming websites that I should go to and it's like I have no desire to date to.
I really don't have any desire to have male companionship. Yeah. I just absolutely. And nobody ever can believe it.
I feel like I had 31 years with the man who was crazy about me, worshipped the ground I walk on did everything in the world for me. It's not going to get any better than that. And, and even if somehow it was going to get any better than that, I am at total peace. Total joy right here with just doing my thing, enjoying my solitude.
I just have no desire for another guy. I mean, if some if somehow I don't know, you know, if I met a guy and then we were super, super, super compatible, I wouldn't just say, oh, I don't want to be bothered with you. But as far as actually putting forth any effort whatsoever, this entire time that I've been a widow, I've never put forth any effort. I just have no desire for it.
What helped you in the process? Because, you know, social media always is just a partial reflection of truth, but you do seem to live very fully even as you talk about your life. Now, what has been important for you in moving towards a normal that is more than just overwhelmingly sad?
Well, I think. That having been overwhelmingly sad for so long, I did at one point just and I didn't want to date or anything and but I just thought I just don't like being this down and this just that down all the time.
And so I did talk with my doctor about it. And and because I found myself sort of, I don't know, becoming a little bit irritable because probably because of my lack of sleep. Yeah. And and so anyhow, I talk with my doctor and she did recommend a medication.
And I'm really glad that she did, because I think that helped me too, at times when I was just really irritable and crabby and just couldn't go to sleep. She did suggest sleeping medication and I did it with Ambien and I took an Ambien.
And that first night I woke up at 12 and I never got back to sleep again. Oh, no, never. And I had to go to work the next morning with, like, you know, two, two and a half hours sleep.
So I knew that I was going to be one of the Ambien horror stories, so had a different kind of way. And so, anyhow, my concern just was just sort of the irritability. I thought, OK, I can get to sleep. So I'm kind of okay. But I, you know, just something. So I'm not so edgy so much of the time. And so then she did just recommend and got me a prescription just for Xanax to use, just as needed.
And I think it was this one class that I had at the time that was very, very, very challenging to a group of kids to deal with. And, and so I would, you know, like take a half a Xanax just before them, because it's like this is just wipe me out. Yeah. When it was absolutely life changing. Absolutely life changing and I'm not trying to, you know, push drugs on people, but as a counselor for so many years and as a teacher, I have seen children's lives totally changed when they did take the correct medication for whatever need they might have had.
And so that's why I was open minded when she said, you know, maybe just something just to sort of take the edge off. So you aren't just, you know, just so edgy and irritable and all this.
And so I honestly would say that Xanax just sort of turned my life around during that time and gave me control of my mind and able to just sort of calm down, think through, not be so edgy, not be, you know, just burst out crying at the drop of a hat and just get control of my life.
Yeah. Helped you. Well, as you said, feel the capacity for a reality beyond that. Right. Redness. Right.
Are there are there things that as people have been your friends in this new season of widowhood that have been really helpful for you?
People just tried to get me out of the house and doing things. And I appreciated that because I didn't have the energy to initiate anything or the energy to even I mean, I would go to movies, I've always gone to movies, but as far as like there were just things I didn't want to do alone. Right. Just absolutely didn't want to do alone. So it was nice when even a married girlfriend, you know, would would do something like on a Friday or Saturday night.
Right. Go out of their way to see for you. You didn't have to do all the logistics you mentioned in passing.
And I imagine this could be really true. But I'd love for you to unpack it a little bit more. Couple friends that fell by the wayside. Did that feel painful? Did it happen all at once? How did that feel for you?
Well, you know, I had read about that in, you know, in fiction novels and didn't know how very real it was, but I just found it to be very real. They just just sort of disappeared. Hmm. And I can't think other than the friend with the bat invited me for the cookout. Couple friends just did not invite me by myself to something they were having, especially when they were going to be other couples, when it was going to be all couples.
No, there's you're just not I was not invited.
Did you realize that that was happening in real time? Like, imagine that can feel kind of painful if you hear that they've all got together or like, did it did it feel hard as it was happening or did it just kind of happened gradually?
I guess it's sort of hard, but then I guess I just heard about it or seen it in movies or books or something, so I knew that it could happen, but it still was a little surprising. But then to. You just sort of noticed, and this sounds really I don't know how it sounds, but I'll just say it, you just sort of notice that it just seems like maybe wives get a concern that, you know, you're used to having a husband around and you are not going to be over here looking at my husband because you're just used to having a house.
I don't know. It's just a it's a weird kind of vibe that you sort of sense that it is OK, like shortly maybe, I don't know, maybe that fall, you know, when might start being a problem.
And I didn't know mice were a problem. I guess my husband always took care of that. And so anyhow, when in the attic one day and I see these mice droppings, I'm like, oh my gosh. And I notice there's mice traps and like, oh, OK. So he had been dealing with the mice in the attic and I didn't know that. So I went and bought traps and at the store they showed me how to set a trap.
I get home. I can't figure out how to set the trap. So I called a friend of mine down the street, ask her, it's like, you know, have said a mouse traps like. No, I said. And so I ask her. Her husband was like, he does not a surprise. And I was like, oh, OK. But they have mice too. So I'm like, who's setting their mice traps?
So she didn't want him. Yeah, she didn't want him to come down and set my mouth.
So I was like, I know that was the first one. I was just like, oh, this is interesting. Everybody in the neighborhood has mice and nobody's husband sort of set mousetraps, almost like you had had a place within that ecosystem, like a roll ride your husband.
You're kind of a bogey and the rules of interaction had shifted.
Yeah, I do. Yeah.
Yeah. So the mouse trap, I think was maybe the first thing. And then after that there would just be actually that one was such a slap in the face. I don't know that I really ask too many other people because I just thought, well, OK, I think that's my introduction to Widow 101.
Understand your finances. I've met women who whose husbands did everything. I mean everything. And they had no idea the balance on their home. They had no idea if the house was even paid off. They didn't know what their gas bill was. They knew nothing at all. And I have found that those widows have a very, very hard time because, you know, for me, I was dealing with just the emotions of he's gone and I miss him and that I knew about the budget.
I knew about the money. I knew, you know, that I was going to be OK. But if you have no idea about you don't know where things are. That would just really, really add to the whole grieving process. I, I just can't imagine how much it would add because you don't even know what you don't know.
A piece of advice I got that was was so beneficial and I had read and then various people told me that don't make any major decisions for six months. And because once again, like I said, how my head was just so fogged up that I just didn't feel like I was thinking wisely or clearly. And and you really aren't. You know, when I look back on those months, it's like, oh, my gosh, who was I? It's like you aren't thinking clearly. So don't make any kind of major decisions.
A co-worker of mine lost her husband and she sold the house maybe the second month after he died. She just couldn't stay in there alone. And she sold the house. And within a year, she went and made an offer to the people to buy the house back and bought the house.
Any words of wisdom to offer for the journey as they look ahead to this next season of life?
Well, they will get through it. They will it won't be the same, but life will go on, it will be it will still be a great life, just a very different great life than what you pictured. If you thought you were going to be spending most of your life with that person and you will enjoy yours, you'll grow to enjoy yourself if you want to, that you'll really, really enjoy yourself more and grow more as a person if you choose to.
It's sort of what you decide you want to do. And, you know, do you want to find another guy, you know? And if you do, then I would just say put your whole heart into it, give it a hundred and fifty percent and find another one. But if you want to just grow yourself and not plan on meeting someone else or whatever, then just start living your own life, try to even do some things alone.
If you've got a lot of girlfriends, just, just you've got to create this new normal. You just got to find what makes you happy. And create this new normal and what makes you happy may be almost very, very different from what it was with your husband, but it's just you. And so you you weren't meant to just be miserable. Life's going to be good. It's going to really be great again. You just got to figure out what makes it great, what do I like to do?
And it's sort of a fun kind of thing in that you can be so, so selfish now and so self-centered. You're totally self-indulgent.
Just whatever you want to do, you just do you and do it to the max.
There were so many nuggets of insight from today’s conversation, but here are 3 that I want to highlight as take-aways.
You can find Char on IG at: https://www.instagram.com/travelingblackwidow
And you can listen to her daughter, Liz Simpson, on the Handle with Care podcast at: https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/handlewithcare/Final_Liz.mp3