I moved to Bloomington two years ago, not knowing anyone here but my daughter, her husband, and Karen, a sister-in-law of one of my cousins.  Karen and I are in the same age group – old and retired.  In the six years that Karen has been here, she had joined many groups and clubs and she even holds office in a couple of them.  She came to visit me the day I moved here and said, “You have to join this group and that group.  We all have such a good time together.”  It sounded good to me.  I had just retired 3 months before my move and had no clue what I was going to do down here, especially not knowing anyone.  She took me under her wing so to speak, and introduced me to her friends and I started going to different functions with them. 

The two clubs I joined are the Newcomers Club and the University Club.  The Newcomers Club is open to people who have moved here within the last 5 years, if you wait over 5 years to join, you are out of luck, my friend.  Supposedly, people who didn’t join within the first 5 years have tried to join but can’t.  Why?  I don’t know, but that’s the rule. 

This club had different groups within it which include bunco groups, knitting groups, book clubs, bridge groups, dining out groups, an out and about group and many more.  The bulk of the population of all these groups are women.  There are men in the golf group because it’s the men’s golf group.  There is no women’s golf group because no women signed up for it.  I doubt if a woman can join the men’s golf group.  I just don’t think their wives would allow it.

The University Club meets in the Memorial Union Building at Indiana University.  This is a higher-class club.  We meet in the President’s Room.  It’s a lovely dining room with pictures of past presidents of the University.  We meet monthly for luncheons with speakers.  Overall, it’s a lovely meal in a lovely setting with interesting people speaking.  Once again, the bulk of the attendees are women.  There are a few men who show up with their wives.  Any other men who are there are the guest speakers. 

This past March, I signed up for the University Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Party, which is a pot luck.  A husband and wife duo made the Corned Beef and Cabbage and the rest of us brought more side dishes and desserts. 

A few days before the party, I received an email from one of the women in the group asking people who were interested to sign up for the Singles’ Table.  Naturally, being a widow and being single for the first time in over 25 years, I felt that was where I wanted to be.  There was a deadline to sign up for this table and once it was full, you would have to sit with the married couples.  I sure didn’t want to do that, so I signed up immediately. 

I was interested in seeing who would be sitting at this table.  Would there be some interesting men there?  Someone of the opposite sex that you could have a stimulating conversation with.  That’s what I thought since I was here at a Big 10 University.  I was really looking forward to the party. 

Well, on St. Patrick’s Day 2017 I learned the meaning of signing up for the Singles’ Table.  No, there were no men at the Singles’ Table.  There were only the same women I’ve been with since I moved here.  The same women I’ve been with to every outing.  Where were the single men that I thought would be at the table?  I felt really duped.  Well, the answer is simple.  There are no single men our age, they are either dead or in nursing homes or are married. 

I have deduced, the reason there is a Singles’ Table is because the other tables are reserved for couples and if a single woman sits at a couples’ table then one can only assume she’s after someone’s husband.  That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it and after careful thought of about 10 minutes, I decided I will not be attending the St. Patrick’s Day Party of 2018.

Elena is a retired legal secretary who is also a widow. After her husband’s death, Elena says she felt totally lost. She and her husband had done all the things couples were supposed to do when they planned for their retirement and their life after working. They worked to pay off the house and the cars, each had a will and a living will. They had it all in place “just in case.” The only thing they didn’t really think about was what would the one left do with their life when the other died? How would they fill all that time? Her husband said that he wouldn’t retire and would continue working, but that didn’t happen. He died first. Her only family was living 200 miles away. So, she retired and moved to be near them. Now her new job started. What was she going to do in a strange town where the only people she knew were her daughter and son-in-law who were working all day long?

Elena’s stories are what she likes to call “How to Be a Widow When You Didn’t Plan for It.” Through her stories, she hopes other will see that there can be life after loss.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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