If you have been a reader for a while you know that my husband, Ron, passed away December 7, 2015 and since that time I have been adjusting to living on my own. In reflecting on myself now, plans for the future and introspection of the past I have learned a few things.
I am capable of living alone, and doing it comfortably. When I met Ron I was 19 and living at home with my parents. I got married, moved in with Ron and had never lived alone. I originally found the idea of living solo terrifying but had no choice. What I have learned is that living on my own has its benefits. I can set the thermostat where I want and it stays there. I can blast the radio at 2 am if I chose without having to worry about disturbing anyone else. I can eat what I want when I want and not have to worry about anyone else. I can re-arrange and hang photos and other artwork on the walls, removing things that were never my choice to begin with and adding new items that appeal to me. I can move, add, eliminate or change anything I chose without wondering if another person is going to like the change.
Although I never paid attention to our finances and had no interest in knowing about them, I am perfectly capable of paying bills, applying for mortgage modifications, listing property for sale, and making decisions on financial assets. I’m not blindly doing what Ron told me to do as he was dying. I’m evaluating my own circumstances and making a decision that I feel comfortable with. My goal for the future is to learn how the stock market and investments work, to understand how to diversify and what everything means so I can make informed choices. Hopefully I will get a grasp on this within the next decade. I’m really walking in uncharted territory here.
I can now run a riding lawn mower, a weed wacker, call a plumber, take vehicles in for routine maintenance, find and hire repair persons for things such as air conditioning. However I have no intention of learning to run the snowblower. That thing is just too big. I’ll kill myself shoveling first. I even look at the Harbor Freight and Tractor Repair sales flyers now in case there is something I need. Okay, I’ll admit my big purchase this year was two tarps, but we all have to start somewhere.
One big surprise, I like to cook. I know that sounds funny after 34 years of marriage, but I thought I didn’t like cooking. I have been cooking for myself for a year now and I realize that I like it. For the majority of our marriage Ron did all the cooking. Over the years I told people didn’t like doing day-to-day rush home from work an cook a meal, but I liked doing the larger family meals. I recently said those words to someone but later in the evening it occurred to me that the statement isn’t true. I don’t mind cooking for myself at all. I love grilling entire meals in the summer months. So why the change in my thoughts?
What I have discovered is that it wasn’t the cooking I disliked, it was that Ron always had a criticism of some sort and tended to hover, questioning why I did things the way I did, telling me I should do things differently than I did. Nothing was ever quite good enough, there was always a “why didn’t you…” Basically, he thought I should cook just like him. After a while I tired of the negativity and simply walked away and left it to him. He cooked, I cleaned up, and it worked.
Since Ron’s passing I have discovered that I enjoy cooking. I like throwing foods together to see what I like, mixing different combinations. If they are all watching from above there are three cooks in heaven that are probably surprised at what they see.
I would say Ron is probably shocked at the things I fix; that I enjoy the cooking and especially like grilling. My Mother-in-Law is probably happy to see me not measuring, just dumping in many instances. I learned early in my marriage that if you called her for a recipe she didn’t measure, it was “till it looks right.” My father was a great cook. When he saw me go into the basement and gather an assortment of ingredients, throw them into a pot and end up with a soup he was probably going “hell ya, that’s the way to cook.” One of my greatest memories is when he cleaned out the refrigerator and made “chili” with the leftovers. How many people have eaten chili with spaghettio’s floating in it? I have!
When it comes to traveling alone I have mixed feelings. It is nice because if I want to wander around and/or make frequent stops to take pictures I can do that without any complaints. Ron and I were both photographers and did that all the time, but the average person does not take pleasure in such activities or delays.
On the other hand, traveling alone can be lonely. If taking in a tourist attraction, such as wandering a museum or park, you are always alone. No one to talk with, share discoveries with. You are always eating alone, and so I always dine with a book. There is no one sharing your hotel room, no one to sleep with. Maybe we shouldn’t go there. Let’s just leave it at that.
So learning about me happened by learning to live alone. What a difference a year has made. The good, the bad, the indifferent. What have I learned? I had a fantastic marriage. I will have a fantastic future. Different than I planned, but that’s okay. I have made decisions that a year ago I would not have made. I have made changes in my life that a year ago I would not have made. Life was different then. I was different then. I am happy with my life, and that is all that matters. Whatever happens, whatever life throws in my direction, I am ready. Bring it on!