I was having a hard time getting over my wifeís death, and I was having just as hard a time surviving on my own, so what was I going to do? I had been to a grief counseling class of six sessions which helped by showing me I certainly wasnít alone in my grief, but it didnít help me deal with it much.
I decided I had to tell someone my problems. I really didnít want to burden people with my problems, and I didnít want to become the kind of person who would bend your ear till it fell off; I didnít like people like that and I surely didnít want to become one of them. Then it came to me: write!
I can express myself in writing better than talking anyway, so Iíll write. Who am I going to write to? Ah, good question; I had to find someone to read what I wrote. I mean I knew I could just write of my experiences and file them away to be read by my surviving children, and that would be OK, but I didnít think it would help me heal.
So I thought, Iíll write one of my experiences in a letter to the editor to the Post. I chose the Post because I knew Fran, and I knew she would appreciate my efforts. That and the people at the Post never had tried to change what I wrote. That was something that I liked.
I was right! Fran liked the letter and asked if I would consider writing some more from the widower viewpoint, and I agreed. I think I shocked Fran when I refused the handsome payment she offered me, but I didnít tell her I felt I should be paying her to let me use her columns to help heal my grief.
I had one problem. (I mean with writing the column.) I needed a name, a nom de plume type of concealment for two reasons: first, I was going to lay my soul bare, and although I donít mind undressing my psyche in public, I knew a couple of my children would. Also I needed a name a little more grabbing than ďJim.Ē I was alone, so I chose ďAl Owne.Ē
I created a whole new person with a different birthday and all. Al took on a life of his own. Al received mail at the Post and messages on an email account I set up in his name. When I went on a trip to California, I stayed with two friends of my daughter, who told me, ďAs long as youíre here weíre going to call you Al because we read your column online, and youíre ĎAlí to us.Ē
This will be my last regular column for a couple of reasons. Mainly because Iíve kind of met my goal of getting over the grief. Will I ever get over losing my wife of 52 Ĺ years? No; of course not, but Iíve reached a point where I can live with it. Also, I want to stop before I become boring. As I adjust to my widower lifestyle, things are going pretty well. Oh, Iíll never be a good or even reasonable cook, but Iím not starving either. Iíll always be able to laugh at myself and thatís important to me.
Finally, I want to thank you, the readers, for helping me. You read my adventures and misadventures and laughed or shook your head in wonder, but you were there. Thank you for being there for me.
Iíll see you around.