Last night about 11 pm local time my son called to tell me he was married. He and his fiancee signed the official papers at a government office about an hour ago and were now legally husband and wife.

I was expecting the call and even though I was still stunned hearing him say the words. He told me it was low-key, they were at her dad’s house and after eating lunch would be going back to Saigon. He to his apartment and she to her aunt’s house. They hadn’t told family because they didn’t want any fuss (translation:people in their business ). I told him his dad would be thrilled and happy for him. He didn’t say anything but he did send me a few pictures.

Government office where they signed the marriage papers. He said an official gave Oanh a hard time when he saw she was older than Bear, by 6 months, and that they might not be able to get married. Seriously, not kidding or joking. She gave him the stink eye and they both signed. So there.

Wedding rings. 

Bear’s father-in-law, with chicken. Chicken was lunch. 


Story of a dresser 

How I finally found, bought and hauled a 3 drawer dresser.

Duct tape, is there anything it can’t do? This was an old roll of Jerry’s I found in the trunk, he loved the stuff so much Bear considered putting a roll in his casket.

I found a small dresser at a non profit thrift and put it on layaway yesterday. The tag said 75.99 but the lady running the place said they were having a sale and said 60 dollars. Layaway was 50% down, 30 days. I paid 30 dollars and said I’d be back. 

I went back today. Same lady. I went to pay it off and she yelled for her volunteer, a slight older black man, to take it to my car. There was my car and an SUV in the lot. I found my dresser on a dolly and the man waiting.

He managed to get the dresser into my trunk, most of it. Then came the problem of the lid; there was no little loop for tying it down. He looked at my car and tried fitting it in the backseat but no go. Back into the trunk and we both stared at the lid, trying to figure how to keep it from flying up. He found a belt and attempted to tie down one side but it flipped up. People at the taco truck in the parking lot ignored us but 2 dogs hanging out nearby seemed interested and looked like they wanted to offer an opinion. One was a sweet pit bull mix with a pink collar who wagged her tail at me. The other dog lost interest when he saw I didn’t have any tacos and wasn’t going to buy any. 

The man saw the duct tape and tore off three long strips. It should hold and keep me from getting pulled over by the cops, he said. I thanked him and made a long awkward trip across town. It only took about 20 minutes but they were long minutes. 

I got it home and used the dolly til I couldn’t lift it onto the porch. I pulled out the drawers and managed to carry it the rest of the way. While the door was open Olive and Porkchop took off for a few minutes. I didn’t have the time to chase them but they returned when they realized it was hot outside and they are house pets for a reason. Then I took these pictures. 

Those drawers I kept talking about.

Stuff in the laundry basket will go in these drawers. And the back is not kicked in!

I’m really proud of this


My dresser isn’t rare or remarkable, it’s a solid piece of mid century factory made furniture. But it was well cared for and likely as old as me but in better condition. It has small touches like joints in the drawers and most of it is real wood, or wood veneer. It’s small enough for me to move, fits under the window and it only cost 60 bucks. New dressers, even the cheap ones in a box at Target or Wal-Mart cost twice as much, some others I saw cost much more and they weren’t special either. Most won’t last as long as this one.  I learned furniture made with real wood costs. It’s been a long time since I had to buy any. 

Thrifter’s remorse 

I found a great armchair and a really nice 4 shelf bookcase at the thrift store yesterday. Both on sale and combined would cost me less than forty bucks.

There was one catch– I didn’t have a way to haul them. Even if I bought them the store has a 30 minute pick up policy. I had no way of getting these things out of there, not in 30 minutes. I called my sister only to find out her SUV was in the shop, she had the little sedan, same size as mine.

So I went back this morning. My sister’s (different sister) boyfriend said he would haul them for me. When I got there I saw my chair bundled into the trunk of another car. Big letdown. I  went inside and saw the bookcase was gone too, huge letdown.  I experienced thrifter’s remorse, not buying that thing you really wanted and figured it would still be there when you came back, only to find it’s gone.

Ironically I went looking for a dresser, something small, something cheap and not too ugly and found the chair and bookcase instead. And I left without any of them.

Since today was a holiday every thrift store had sales, the stores were packed and there was nothing left. I checked, I hit 4 more stores. I think I might have found a small dresser at a thrift 2nd hand store that charges a little more but offers layaway.

I’m trying to furnish my room, it’s a slow process. My clothes and a few other things are in there but it doesn’t feel like mine yet. I have been here for a year, I did not think I would still be here, that this was a pit stop til I found my own cheesy little apartment.

I am grateful my pets and I have a home, that there are no neighbors above or below us, that we have a backyard and I don’t have a mortgage payment, thanks to my aunt. And when my sister moves in with her boyfriend it will be mine, or I’ll have possession at least.

It isn’t what I expected and frankly not what I wanted. This time last year I was still trying to find a job in Seattle and move. To be honest I would rather be in Seattle. I’d be alone but it would be in a better more interesting place.

I am living down the block from the house where I grew up and next door to my aunt Donnie’s old house. I am back where I started from. Right now it seems likely I’ll spend the rest of my life here and that’s darned depressing.

Not that being a widow is expected to be fun but I hoped to literally and figuratively be further along the road. I hadn’t really imagined what the future would be like, the present is still weird and I’m still getting used to it. Yet I saw myself somewhere different, new. Not this, I thought I’d have a life. Maybe it is expecting too much, maybe too soon.

I imagined myself living alone, a quiet simple life and that’s what I have. I also imagined myself having friends, people to hang out with, talk to and that I enjoyed being around. I imagined myself going out to dinner or to movies, plays, even going to someone’s house to watch hockey games on TV. My fantasy friends have cable. I didn’t see myself climbing rocks, going to bars or anything dangerous, just a good but dull life. While I haven’t done the dangerous stuff I haven’t done the other stuff and I’m a little disappointed. Again, maybe I’m expecting too much or too soon.

I still do things and go places on my own. I wish there was a service like tinder for finding friends. I have tried meetup but that hasn’t worked.  I am awkward and shy. I haven’t met any people I feel like getting to know and none have been interested in me either. Most are younger than me, about my son’s age. I tried the parish book club but all the women in that group are older, by about 10-20 years and it feels like I’m hanging out with my friend’s moms, I have to be careful what I say and be polite, mind my manners. I’m too old for one group and too young for another. It’s no wonder I am alone and it’s likely I’ll remain this way.

The books I’ve read about being a widow advise me to join groups, extend myself to other people and tell family and friends I want to go out and have a social life. The books do not say how long it takes for this to work or that it will work. They don’t account for introverted widows without those networks. I feel like I’m failing at being a successful widow.

I’m comfortable talking about Jerry. Little things I remember about what he said and did, his personality, it doesn’t bother me to talk about him or tell people about who he was. Yet no one asks or is interested, it’s easier to pretend he didn’t exist.

I’ve thought about joining a widow’s support group, if one exists around here, but I’m afraid it will be like the parish book club. Older women I don’t have anything in common with other than we had husbands who died.

This will subside, I suppose.  A lot of women are alone and deal with it, I guess I will too. Maybe I will become comfortable with my situation over time. Maybe I expected too much to have changed in two years. I want to have a life but don’t know how to make one.