A new widow shares her thoughts on matters large and small as she gradually adapts to being single after a lifetime as half of a couple.
When Greene (mother of columnist Bob Greene) was widowed in 1998, after 56 years of marriage, she found few books that spoke in any personal way to her own situation. The present work is designed to fill that gap and is based on a journal she kept during the first two years after her husband’s death. While she touches on spiritual matters, the comfort provided by children, and the trauma of encountering unexpected reminders of one’s loss—a song (“Moonglow,” for example), a photograph, a TV rerun—she steers free of false sentiment and would-be wisdom. Practical issues of living alone are the principal concerns: paying one’s share at a restaurant, driving at night, getting the car washed or its oil changed. Perhaps less ordinary chores, but for Greene real challenges, were canceling an unwanted cell phone and disposing of a handgun. A major concern, and one that will resonate with many women, has been taking care of the house, which means not just performing the chores her husband once handled, but making the decisions he had always made. When first widowed, Greene found that her clearest memories of her husband were always of the last, bad times; in the final chapter, written some two years later, the good memories have come back and she has regained her strength and self-reliance. A measure of that recovery is the new computer room she is busy creating in her home, a room of her own, a place for her writing and for chatting with new cyberfriends.
For the woman who has recently joined the bereft sisterhood, reading Greene’s book is akin to having someone to share a sigh and a knowing smile with.