I don’t pretend to know everything about widowhood, but after more experience than I’d like, I thought I had figured out one thing: All widows redecorate.
“It’s universal,” I announced to a widowed friend the other day at lunch. “It’s a way of taking control.”
“Really?” she said, and went on to say how half a year later her house and its contents were still pretty much intact.
“Really?” was all I could say back. I have never carried on so simply and sensibly.
Moving furniture is a must. Followed by hanging pictures in different places and last time inviting in a Feng Shui consultant to make sure everything was energetically correct.
Even though seven years have passed since that first widowhood and consult, I’m still loving the “fire” she added to what she said was too much earth, metal, water and wood in the living room. I think “fire” was her diplomatic way of saying I needed to perk up the gloom with red.
Thanks to her, I acquired a TV that looks like a red apple (complete with stem and green leaves), two red chairs, a couple of red throw pillows and most bravely, a carpet just shy of a Jackson Pollock painting.
So now, a couple months out from another loss and scrambling for an encore re-do, I’ve set my sights – with a vengeance – on redecorating the bedroom.
It has to be feminine but not too feminine. It has to have mementos but not too many mementos. It has to have color but not red. It has to be fully me.
Nothing complicates life more than decorating to be “fully me” when one is struggling to be “fully me.” What does “fully me” look like? A chocolate batik bedspread? A countrified floral one? Or one of those vague-looking “white on white” duvet covers as elegant as an engraved invitation?
And what if I went with chocolate batik? Wouldn’t I also need pillow shams? But the spread didn’t come with any. So maybe giant floral pillows. But wouldn’t that be tacky? Maybe I could perk things up with one of those snazzy bed runners. But would that feel like I’d just checked into the Hilton? Complicated.
In the end, it has been my grandmother, long passed, who has come to the rescue in the redecorating madness. As soon as I moved her drop leaf table back into a position of bedroom prominence, she began to harangue me with one of her usual lectures.
“You can make it!” she said, nudging me to drag out the sewing machine, idle for nearly a decade, and make the shams myself out of a matching batik shower curtain. And make a bedrunner, too, “because you can create anything you want to.”
That advice sent me to the house of a sewing friend, who handed me a book of 500 embroidery thread shades.
“Find the right match for your bedroom rug and then go to this fabric store,” she instructed, handing me an address. Obediently, I took off, embroidery book in hand.
I have no idea how the bed runner or the shams will turn out or whether the bedroom will turn out to be fully me, whatever that is. Grandma ‘s own creations were – let’s say – unpredictable.
But she did exude confidence. And when she says, “You can make it,” I still take that to the bank.
Copyright 2016 Pat Snyder