Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, December 12, 2014

Something else to begin

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Pettus L. Read

I have found out that when something ends, something else begins. At least that’s how it’s worked in my life. Over the years, I’ve held numerous titles - some given, some won, and many just because I showed up. One such title happened because I began something over 36 years ago, and was the one still there at a most inopportune time.

The title of widower is one most men don’t look forward to, especially if they had a wife like mine. We had a wonderful thing going, but one September day, I gained the title of widower, which now gets checked by a somewhat reluctant pen when I fill out applications that want to know my marital status. I never knew over those 36 years that she was preparing me for the job, either. Often, she’d say, “Now watch what I’m doing. Someday, you might have to do this.” It might have been something to do with the wash, cooking, or other things around the house, but I would watch because with her, you never knew when there might be a test. And, let me tell you, the final exam has really been a doozy.

I’ve held this title for more than five years now, and I must say, I’m a pretty accomplished widower. This past Thanksgiving, I cooked the turkey, made the dressin’, and fixed sweet potatoes with marshmallows that left folks smiling after they ate them. As I write this column, I have three loads of wash a’going, two phones busy, and just finished vacuuming the house. Let me tell you: I was paying attention during all those widower lessons when it came to homemaking, and the outside is doing all right as well.

When the term widower enters the discussion, individuals have numerous images of what those people should look like. When I first was asked if I was a widower in an application, I immediately saw an old, grizzled, unshaven man with a felt hat living in a house with dim lighting. That night, I returned home and turned on all the lights. It took that application to make me realize I’d achieved a new title in life. I notified my daughter that she now had a new job to keep an eye on me so I would avoid the image of what I had pictured at the application process. She was to tell me if I smelled like an old man, looked like an old man, or allowed my house to turn into the home of the hermit from “Gunsmoke.” Something might have ended, but now something else will begin.

Christmas is now upon us, and I’m in the process of preparing my home for the holiday. Decorations are up, and each year, I attempt to do something new. Now, I know there are men out there who are saying this can’t be right. True, I’m not a decorator, but I’m a photographer who knows how to look at and copy pictures. My house is a copy of something I’ve seen somewhere else, which helps me to compete in this world as a widower. In the Bible, it speaks of taking care of the widows, but doesn’t say anything about us widowers. If the Bible is silent on the subject, then it means for me to get busy and take care of myself.

I needed something the other day for the house, and a very kind lady suggested I could get it at the Old Timers Pottery. On a Sunday afternoon, I ventured there and proceeded to look for the item. I found a lot more. There in every aisle of the store were ladies with carts being followed by husbands with the look of being weaned on a dill pickle. Each man walked with a distinctive hump in their back, and I could tell that on this particular Sunday, they would rather be at home sleeping or watching a football game on TV instead of roaming through plastic roses. They just didn’t understand it was part of the test.

I watched and saw wives show husbands flower arrangements, followed by asking their opinions on which one would work best. Each time, the one the husband chose was discarded and the other picked. I remembered those days, and on that Sunday, I understood why I was brought along on those Sundays past. I was there as the official quality control for my wife. Those husbands were there that Sunday doing the same thing, but also being taught a lesson on the best choice, much the same as they would have done showing the wife the proper lawnmower for the yard.

As I said, things do end, but with every ending, there is something else to begin.

Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted at pettusr60@gmail.com.