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DEATH and LIFE by Gene Myers

Article Posted: 08/15/2023
Article Views: 334
Articles Written: 214
Word Count: 1098
Article Votes: 5
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Current Affairs,Relationships,Seniors
When one’s long-time partner leaves—whatever the reason: breakup, walkabout, divorce, death—the survivor’s life is transformed. Sometimes the change is beneficial; and other times it may be heart-wrenching and bitter. According to behavioral scientists, all such occurrences are accompanied by trauma; and loss of a partner is (perhaps) the most stressful event in life.

On February 1, 2023, at 12:09 am, my never-sick, robust, very-fit wife died suddenly. It didn’t really register with me for a full 36 hours. I chronicled the situation in my essay, The Widower. After some 220 articles and technical papers, I planned to hang it up except for penning an occasional poem or song.

Then I started puzzling about my new reality. So, here we go one last time.

I don’t recall the five psychological processes involved with loss of a loved one. I think it begins with denial and ends with acceptance. Anyway, the middle three are of little importance if you get to the final step, which I have. For sure, that watershed moment rocked my world like nothing before ever had, and I still feel the aftershocks.

What to do? I admit I was quite confused about how to restart; how to soldier on. Men and women of our community warned me that I’d be besieged by widows and divorcees, but there has not even been the tiniest hint of that. I don’t know whether to be relieved, humbled, or insulted.

However, there has been a period of self-discovery that is welcome, freeing, and poignant—all at the same time. See, I wasn’t supposed to go through this. At six years younger, we figured Kay would be a widow for 10 to 12 years. Well, the universe double-crossed us with style. Anyway, I discovered I can do laundry, which was not permitted before because I “don’t do it right”. I can cook—always was a good “survival cook”—but I don’t like to. I mean, making a meal for one is about the same mess and cleanup as cooking for multiple people. A lifetime avid reader, I have discovered I can no longer concentrate long enough to retain anything. Hopefully, that will pass. Being a writer, I’ve always listened carefully to song lyrics, but now the meanings are richer, fuller, and they sometimes make me cry. I have also discovered that my dynamic with others is off—I’m a third or fifth wheel, a pariah, and may be scheduled for social replacement. With that reality in mind, I have started withdrawing. The only part of my life that seems unfazed is in my participation in several local bands. For now, that is my anchor to joy and rationality.

Eating and sleeping habits are a bit—well—weird. Last night I did go to the effort of making a hamburger—talk about easy. For vegetables I had two fingers of rye whiskey (twice), and dessert was a bowl of granola with blueberries. Sometimes I make a salad, of which I do a good job: romaine, carrots, avocado, cucumbers, an organ meat powder called Pluck, seasoning and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for dressing. Not bad. BTW, I heard EVOO was named for Popeye’s girlfriend, Olive Oyl, who abstained from sex. The extra part means she didn’t get invited to the Prom.

Sometimes I sleep two to four hours a night. On good nights I get six. I’ve been a nighttime dreamer all my life, which is where one gets the most restful sleep. It occurs in the rapid-eye-movement (REM) cycle. Because I’ve always had a lot of REM, I require less sleep that most. However, since Kay’s death I rarely dream. Naps are occasionally required. Personal note: I’ve always been annoyed that humans are supposed (required?) to spend a third of their short lives unconscious.

The thing I miss most about my new “life” is not lack of physical gymnastics. What I really miss is stimulating conversation. I love repartee with people and especially enjoy the male-female banter; the unique back-and-forth. It was especially fun with Kay. If by some happenstance I should find a new relationship, then free-flowing, mellow, witty repartee is the trump card—actually a requirement. Most (male and female) can’t do the verbal dance very well except when talking about themselves. Why? I suppose it could be cause-and-effect of the self-indulgent nature of present-day society. Example: A lady in my neighborhood and I met to have one-on-one conversation—that and nothing more. Because of her unusual background, I thought conversation would be stimulating. Instead, another fellow joined us, and since I am inclusive by nature, I bought him a drink (for which he never thanked me). So, he launches into a self-absorbed me-me-me filibuster of uninteresting blather and corny jokes—and never leaves. She’s polite and engages him. I try as well, but mainly feeling ignored, I chat a bit with a nearby neighbor and leave. BUT—I give the interloper a pass. It was obvious that he is one lonely guy.

Finally, I have discovered that I am somewhat of a misfit within my community, but don’t get me wrong; these folks have been incredibly supportive of me and my situation. I couldn’t live in a better place. The root cause of the problem resides with me.

I am a renaissance man among the modern mainstream of society. That is, I am the one out-of-step with everyone else. But, what the hell, that’s the way I am for which I make no apology. Now, I have to be very careful here because a renaissance man cannot boast about his life experiences and accomplishments—and I will not. He must let others discover bits and pieces through the exchange of mutually beneficial, give-and-take conversation. Instead, I’ll list the attributes of a renaissance man; some of which are shared by the mainstream. He is: 1. Intelligent 2. Knowledgeable about a broad range of subjects 3. Artistic 4. Physically fit; athletic 5. Cool; i.e., smooth and sophisticated without being an arrogant jerk; no need to boast.

Few in my neighborhood know much about me. Some do. I could say that I’m a rather interesting fellow, but I won’t. That would be bragging.

Your working boy, Zorro

You’re standing on the edge of a cliff / About to take the ultimate fall / So have a roll of the dice and bet it all / As they’re plowing you under, don’t start wondering why / You’ve made it to the last mile / Why not go out with some style / Just pucker up, sucker, and kiss this world goodbye

Related Articles - partner leaves, how to restart, self-discovery, eating and sleeping, male-female banter, renaissance man,

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