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Kathleen Begley
West Chester, PA
A grieving baby boomer widow with a weird sense of humor
Recent Activity
I took the train today to center city Philadelphia. It's the home of the pancreatic research laboratory of Jefferson Medical College. A friend, who wants to remain nameless, and I donated a freezer to the scientists looking for a cure to the disease that killed both of our husbands. Somehow,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2012 at Baby Boomer Widow
About two weeks before his death, Joe commented that he looked like a Holocaust victim. He was right. Pancreatic cancer had, indeed, turned my husband into the gaunt, hollowed-eyed man so familiar from historical images of Nazi camps discovered at the end of World War II. Clearly, the disease was... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2012 at Baby Boomer Widow
Today, a friend and I donated a freezer to Thomas Jefferson Medical College. It has one of the nation's leading pancreatic cancer research laboratories. My friend, whose husband also died of the dread disease, discovered through contacts that scientists there needed the new kitchen-style appliance. So she and I bought... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2012 at Baby Boomer Widow
Today, I was in my neighborhood CVS store. I needed to pick up some prescriptions. On my way to the pharmacy, I passed a clerk stacking gifts on the shelves for Valentine's Day. The uber bright graphics of red hearts and the ginormous messages of undying love blinded me. With... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2012 at Baby Boomer Widow
I just got the new book by Lisa Niemi. She's the widow of actor Patrick Swaze. He died in autumn 2009 of pancreatic cancer, a few months before Joe was diagnosed. I'm having a hard time getting past the first half of the memoir. I dread reaching the end. Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2012 at Baby Boomer Widow
The table tops in my home are covered with pictures of Joe and me: at my cousin's wedding, on vacation in Hilton Head, S.C., at my sister's home. They all were taken before Dec. 18, 2009, the day Joe and I learned he was dying. At that moment, picture taking... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2012 at Baby Boomer Widow
Lisa Niemi is the poster child of widows of pancreatic cancer victims. Her husband was actor Patrick Swaze. He died two years ago. Niemi currently is promoting a book about her caretaking experiences. It's called "Worh Fighting For." In a short piece in Parade magazine, she was quoted as saying:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2012 at Baby Boomer Widow
Since Joe died, I have watched every single episode of the four reality TV shows featuring the Kardashian family: Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Chloe and Lamar, Kim and Kourtney take Miami, and Kim and Kourtney take New York. I also have followed Kim's oh-so-short marriage. My friends think my... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
My friend Jane designed the background for this blog. The sad face within the tie-dye peace symbol represents my unexpected baby boomer widowhood. In the near future, I hope to give speeches about life and loss to conferences of women, boomers, and anyone else who will listen. But first I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Since Joe became ill two years ago, I have learned absolutely nothing. And I mean nothing. A case in point: the wonders of computer tablets such as I-Pad have whizzed on by me. Simply put, I have found it difficult to think simultaneously about the appearance of touch-screen technology and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
When Joe had only a few days left on this Earth, I asked him if he were afraid. He said no. For the past six months, I feared something far less serious than death: writing this blog. The act of composing forces me to face the immensity of my grief.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
I read somewhere that widows and widowers are likely to become seriously ill themselves within two years of their spouse's death. Little did I know I was going to prove the point. While on a business trip in September to San Francisco, I developed severe abdominal pains and was rushed... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Three months before he died, Joe's tennis buddies had what they called the first annual Joe Strub Tennis Open. I thought it would be the last. I figured Joe's friends were trying to show their caring before he died. But, lo and behold, the group decided to put together the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Joe's birthday is coming up. I see gifts everywhere: glass sculptures, computer gizmos, boat shoes. Joe was born June 21, the first day of summer, a time of promise, blooming, and renewal. My heart is filled with winter. Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Regrets, I have a few. Actually, I have a lot. One of them involves chores. Throughout our 20-year marriage, Joe repeatedly asked me to join him when he raked leaves from the backyard, shoveled snow from the driveway, repainted the living room walls. But I refused. I thought I could... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Seeing the silver lining behind the cloud. Turning a sow's ear into a purse. Squeezing lemons into lemonade. Yeah, yeah, yeah. When other people talk about seeing the positives in Joe's death, I have one thought. Easy for them to say. Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
About six weeks before Joe died, he went to a jeweler. Pancreatic cancer had eaten away almost half of his body, including his fingers. His wedding ring kept falling off because it was so loose. So, without my knowledge, he had it resized so it fit tightly. When I found... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Joe has been dead for almost a year. By now, I thought, I would be over him. Well, not exactly over him, but functioning on at least four cylinders. I'm not. I'm used being in classes for accelerated learners. How in the hell did I end up in the group... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
I hate Death. In fact, I think it's a truly abominable travel destination. If Death had anything pleasant to offer to weary human beings, it would have an ongoing advertising program. I, for one, have never seen a single promotion featuring Death's lush foliage, sandy beaches, or awesome mountain views.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Over the years, I've heard many people talk about postmortem signs. I've often been surprised by how many otherwise stable individuals think deceased loved ones send messages after death. Total hogwash, I always thought. I even remember disparaging one of my superstitious friends to Joe a few years ago as... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Every day in hospitals around the world, doctors advise stricken family members to "pull the plug." The situation is so common that the term has become synonymous with letting someone die. Joe died unattached to electronic equipment, so I had no such decision to make at the moment he passed... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
I love momilies, those words of wisdom thrown out regularly by mothers trying to teach life lessons to their children. Most of my mom's sayings were spot on. That's why I have been so shocked since my husband's death to discover that she was totally wrong with one of her... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain." I saw that saying today on a plaque hanging in a gift store near my home. The simplistic quote about facing challenges such as widowhood aroused an endless string of questions in... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
Envy is a problem for me. Throughout my life, I often have been jealous of people who were smarter, richer, and better looking than I am. I even have been consumed by the green-eyed monster over the fame and fortune of individuals in careers completely unrelated to my own --... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow
For five years, Joe and our dog, Mikey the Nike, were inseparable. They ran together, they ate together, they watched sports together. After funeral directors removed Joe's body from our home, Mikey jumped into his sickbed. For two weeks, he refused to move from the spot where his master had... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2011 at Baby Boomer Widow