Between Friends: Widows often make changes when life has left them alone

Published 10:39 am Friday, January 26, 2024

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By Bob Ann Breland

I recently read about another widow who sold her house and moved away, closer to her children. I have wondered many times why would anyone sell what has been their home for so many years, after living there with her husband and raising their children.

What made the decision? Was it finances? Was it ill health? What would cause such a big life decision?

Many women who have lost a spouse will struggle financially, making it difficult to get by. I talked with some widows I know, and discovered there are actually several reasons. Ill health is of course a big mover and another definitely is financial.

“Think about how expensive it is for one person to live in a house designed for a six-person family,” one lady told me. “I don’t have the present income to pay all the bills to run such a big house. The electric bill alone is way too much. I can easily live in a two-bedroom house with one bathroom. Not so much housework to keep up and not so many bills to pay. The house had to go and I had to move.”

Then another lady reminded me that it is often tough to stay on in the same hometown, when the children have moved away. They are not close by for their company and that may be what one misses most. Seeing to minor problems is also pretty tough when you are alone with nobody to consult when you need help.

“And you hate to let your children know there are problems you can’t handle anymore,” she added. “No matter how much money you have, it doesn’t solve everything. Think how hard it is to get a repairman in to fix things, even if you can afford to pay them.”

In many cases there are also no other relatives living close by. Life has left them alone. Change may be good for many widows.

One lady said before her husband died, he taught her all kinds of things that had helped her survive alone, but there are lots of others she did not know about. A repairman came to repair something and asked where to turn off the electric power. She said she had no idea, but she learned after he found it and pointed it out.

During the polar cold days, we have just experienced, I can understand how she was feeling. There are things the man of the house just knows — where things are, how to get to them and how old they are.

I had to get a new hot water heater installed recently and I had no idea how long the unit had been in the house. The plumber found out – my husband Rob had written the date on the unit.

Then my clothes dryer began to give me trouble. I called for help, but got no repairman. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. So my daughter told me to check the outside vent. It can get full of lint, and not dry the clothes. I knew about the inside vent – but not the outside one! Rob always took care of these kinds of things and he likely advised her at some point.

So I caught a warmer day and I checked that outside vent. It was packed full of so much lint. I cleaned it and the dryer has worked fine since.

So many things women don’t know about and when the men are no longer here, it can be tough to handle everything. Tough on the heart, the brain and on the nerves. Who can say what one would or would not do given certain circumstances?

Getting things ready for that coming cold weather was tough, but I have done it before and did it again. Such things leave me with that never-ending ache I have felt many times for many reasons since the loss of my Rob. Many agree times can be difficult.