Merry widows unite!

Published 2:27 pm Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It is an exclusive club. Most people are not eager to be apart of the spousal challenged widowhood society; however there are exceptions. Some folks intentionally joined but those are called criminals. Many get married never hoping to end up alone but are forced due to circumstance into the club because usually it is not voluntary. It’s the merry widow/widower’s club and I have been a member since 1998.

Once a widow….always a widow? Not necessarily, because many of us go on with our lives and remarry. Possibly because our first experience although ending badly was so good we think we will give it another try. I consider myself a remarried widow who is a card carrying member in the club but my status is inactive just like my real estate license. I have no plans on renewing either.

Now why am I bringing up widows or the male counterpart widowers? Because it’s the new trend in reality television. It is both respected and cool to be widowed, except if you purposely got that way like the pastor’s wife who joined by shooting her husband several times. Not the accepted form of application!

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First to catch my eye in the widow trend was Stephanie Hogan from Huntsville on the Bachelor. As I had quit watching the dating reality show that showed more drama queens rather than true romance or guys more interested in the ego trip of having twenty plus girls stumble over themselves to get his attention, my draw was the widow Stephanie who lost her husband four years ago in a plane crash. She had a ten week old baby girl and a devastating road to hoe. Hence, I was checking out this season’s Bachelor and pulling for her chance for second love.

I was proud of the way Stephanie represented the widow’s club and appreciated her Southern lady like attitude. She actually stayed above the fray of cat claws and ugliness and left with class and style. Chalk one up for the good guys! She did not get the guy but she got rekindled hope and much respect from the millions of viewers.

Secondly, American Idol introduced a music minister who recently lost his beautiful bride and my heart was warmed again. Widower’s rule! Of course I was voting for him just because of our mutual bond! But he proved his talent anyway so I didn’t have to pity vote at all.

As a community editor I have interviewed many of the elderly in our community and found many women will stay off the market after they become a widow. They remain loyal to their first love and have never found the opportunity to reactivate the marriage clause. I notice most of the men are ready to move on, some at the wake. I only say that because I have personally seen it happen and I mean more than once! Can’t blame the men though because the women are lining up at the casket!

Widows have been packaged as merry or black? The black widow kills off her husbands for whatever reason be it money or lust for the kill and the merry widow is stereotyped as the chick after all the remaining men on the planet. I am thinking many women fit that description without the deceased husband.

Plus a merry widow is a woman’s foundation garment which is intended to smooth the waist and stomach area while also pushing up the bust, as I see it, I think the garment sounds extremely uncomfortable and I can’t imagine any woman being merry while wearing it.

Was I a merry widow? I thought being merry was about being fun, high-spirited, gaiety and not about playing the field. The bad connotation on the name has got to go. A man or woman has the right to be merry in their widowdom. Lemonade has to be squeezed out of life’s tragic turns and joy is an important leftover. It is okay to live when your spouse dies.

I gave myself permission to be happy again. I gave myself permission to continue living and loving, and finding that each day is an extra bonus because I remain. Although, some moments of guilt sneak in, especially in my dreams because I have found so many blessings, I push them back because until the day I die I am going to make the most of the heartbeats I have!

So what are the virtues of widowhood? You don’t have the baggage that a divorce brings along and the child support payments come in regularly, but for the majority the state of losing a spouse really stinks. In older times, my income would depend on the charity of others or I would have to marry a brother. In my Jane Austen novels, a widow never inherits wealth from her husband which made for great plot lines but a desperate life.

At the time of my widow event, my job was adequate but in many cases the wife instead inherits the debt of what took two incomes to build up.

I kept the widow tradition going in my family as both of my grandmothers were widowed young, so I stopped that tradition by not having any girls, hopefully the curse will not transfer to my four boys. Yet, I never regret any part of my life because it is the path that I must walk and it has created the me I am today.

As I have found love and happiness again, the leftovers of being a widow are always there because once you have experienced the life altering experience you will never feel the security of life again. You always wonder can lightning strike twice? Why is your husband a few minutes late? Can and will it happen again?

Do I recommend widowhood? Nope, but if you are given the opportunity of joining our club, you will discover your inner strength you never thought you had, you will learn to accept the kindness of others, embrace the good wishes and love that flows your way, and if you decide to be on a reality television understand that being a widow or widower is a positive thing.

For now, I will keep my card carrying status of being a widow because I have earned the membership, but as for reinstating it, only if my husband wants more children.

Tracy Williams is a guest columnist and can be reached at her website: