Men Don’t Make Merry Widowers

If my mom had predeceased my dad, one of my sisters or I would have asked him to move in with us. He wouldn’t have coped well with being alone.  Emotionally or physically. I never even saw him boil water to make instant coffee, no less hold a broom or turn on the washing machine. He did use an electric knife in the 1970s, to slice roast beef, but the cord repeatedly fell out of the thing so it took longer to carve the beef than if he had used a regular knife. But that’s another story!

My dad would have had a harder time adjusting to being a widower than my mom had as a widow. And, from what I’ve observed over decades, he wouldn’t have been unusual. Women are pros at ameliorating their loneliness and sadness through a variety of means, from socializing with friends to starting projects that stir their passions. Plus, most women can be perfectly happy staying home alone, enjoying dinner, reading a good book, or watching a favorite show or great movie. Men, not so much. It’s rare to see two men dining out together, unless they’re business associates, and it’s hard to picture a man looking forward to cuddling with a dog on the sofa for more than one night here and there.

I recently told an old friend who lost his wife within the last year that I thought he “couldn’t be alone,” and he readily agreed.

He’s an extremely successful man, who loves fine food, good company and  stimulating conversation, but he needs a woman by his side or he doesn’t feel whole. Maybe that’s the reason he became involved with another woman he’s also known a long time, although there’s at least one pretty big issue that bothers him about her a great deal. He’s trying to sweep the issue under the carpet, for the time being, even though he knows it’s not going to go away. A woman with a satisfying and successful marriage behind her might be good at sweeping the floor, but she probably wouldn’t be as good an “issue sweeper” with a new man as my male friend is with his new woman.

A widowed friend, for instance, recently accepted an offer from a girlfriend to be set up on a “blind date,” but has since learned that her imminent date is a “big drinker.”  My friend doesn’t drink at all, and although she doesn’t care a bit whether someone else enjoys a drink or two, she’s concerned that the man won’t stop there.  “I’m not interested in watching someone go overboard,” she told me. “I’m no longer 20, or even 40.” She’s now deciding whether to cancel the date, but has asked the friend who set her up for her thoughts.

I agree with my friend, but said she should at least go on one date, and see what transpires. After Edgar died, I went out with a man who drank too much, and although he was fun, and wonderful to me in many ways, I couldn’t stand to see him sloshed date after date. I wasn’t wild about his housekeeping, either.  When I agreed to spend a weekend at his home, it looked like he last cleaned the coffee maker when his wife left decades earlier.  It nauseated me.  So did the shag carpeting in the bedroom from the 1970s. I couldn’t sweep my feelings under the carpet, certainly not this one.