Follow up to last week’s article. Widower refuses to take down wife’s photos. Tom isn’t walking in a widower’s shoes.
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
In our last article, Sue said she's confused because while the widower has mentioned possible marriage in the future, pictures of his deceased wife remain throughout his house, and, he continues to put flowers on the church altar.
She said, "If he loves me, he would have already put her pictures in a drawer. If he wants a future with me, I shouldn't have to read in the church newsletter that he put flowers in memory of his wife; shouldn't the flowers, instead, be in my honor?
"I've always been the most important person to the men I've dated. I wonder if I'm the most important person even though he says he has moved forward and is ready to have a life with me."
I responded, "Don't even think about making a commitment to this man until the pictures are down and tucked away. Buy yourself a huge bouquet of flowers and display them where you live. When he asks who gave them to you, tell him 'A secret admirer.'"
Those were stupid comments on my part, and you let it be known.
Dave, a widower of 6 ½ years, emailed, "I unequivocally disagree with your response. You have not experienced the loss of a spouse to death. Your advice is tantamount to sympathy vs. empathy.
"Losing the love of my life to cancer after only 7 years of a mountain-top, unconditional love relationship was devastating.
"If I heeded, adhered to your advice to Sue and took down my late wife Franny's pictures that grace our family wall of pictures, my 5 children including 2 step children who have become my children, and my 11 grandchildren would 'disown me.'
"Whenever my children and grandchildren come into my house, they walk to the wall of pictures. Franny is part of who and what I am, a part of my life history.
"Her pictures are not to intimidate a special lady (hopefully a widow); her pictures hang on the family wall because she is part of our family!
"This widower will never take down Franny's pictures."
Mary Lou wrote, "Sue's lament that she has always been the most important person to a man she dates is inapplicable to later-life romance. She needs to lighten up or she is headed for heartache. She is way too eager.
Nancy: "How can you and Sue expect someone to put a loving marriage and history in a drawer? Sue should work on her insecurities. She needs to learn to respect his first wife's memory and not be jealous of a deceased person."
Linda, "I'm pretty disappointed that you suggested that Sue buy herself flowers and lie to the widower. She should buy herself flowers and when he asks about them, say, "I bought them for myself, though I wish you had bought them for me."
Lynne: "It takes a person with a very special outlook on life to have a successful relationship with a widower/widow. I'm a widow. I know.
"Don't expect the surviving spouse to ever give up loving the deceased spouse. If not for death, they would still be together. Someone who wants a relationship with a surviving spouse is going to have to realize that there is a memory lingering there, and be comfortable with that.
"Why buy flowers and claim they are from a secret admirer? What's the point? This is not a game."
Jane Ann: "I was once in the same boat. Walked into my lover's condo, and all of HER stuff, clothes, make-up, jewelry, wheel chair, bed lift, was there, after five years. I didn't say anything at the time, but it was like a slap in the face. The next time he wanted me to visit him, I simply said, 'I will after ALL of her things are gone.'
"Men do not think about these things as women do! I told him he could keep a couple of pictures--but not in the bedroom--while I was there. He seemed dumbfounded that I felt that way, and apologized profusely.
"He said that he had never thought about it, and immediately hired someone to help with the removal. He felt hurt that I did not want her jewelry. Men are not mind readers, and need to be told exactly how we feel. Don't blame him too much. Give him a chance to make it right.
"As to the altar flowers, see it as the mark of a good and loving husband, and be proud he is the man he is."
Phoebe, a RN and grief counselor, said, "Each of us reacts differently in our grief. Past lives and loves are gone, but never forgotten. But if a new relationship is to survive, we need to commit wholeheartedly to that relationship without feeling we have betrayed our lost loved one. If the past and how we choose to honor and remember it is causing tension between the parties, then it is too early for one or both participants."
I stand with my hat in my hand. I was wrong. David is right, I can’t be walking in a widower’s shoes. Thanks to all who contributed. Your comments were awesome.