Playing The Ace Of Broken Hearts


From time to time, I feel the need to play a good game of cards.  If you think I’m talking about the type of deck used in a game of “52 Pick-Up” you’d be mistaken.

Unlike my other single friends, I have a special card which I use to make other people stop and think about what they’ve just said to me. You might say it’s my Ace of Broken Hearts.

I’m referring to the widow card.

For example, I was having one of those bad hair days last Thursday, when I rushed home at noon to let a workman from the water utility in to my basement to replace an old meter.

The workman was an elderly gentleman who was running very late when he got here, and I needed to leave for work in ten minutes. He apologized and went straight to work. Five minutes later he appeared upstairs and asked me to follow him to the basement so that he could show me a problem with the meter.

When we got to the meter, the workman told me that he was going to explain the problem to me so I could later relay the message to my “husband” so that he could deal with it.

That did it!

First I was having a lousy day at work, the workman was late, I was missing my lunch, and now he assumed I didn’t have the brains necessary to deal with the issue, so I would need to explain it all to my husband.

That’s when I let him have it with both barrels. I informed him that my husband was dead with a capital D and that as the owner of this house in which he was standing, I would deal with any and all problems myself. After all, I am the chief financial officer at a local business; shouldn’t I be able to deal with a leaky faucet?

He was just lucky I didn’t give him the address of Calvary Cemetery so he could visit Mr. Tess in person to relay the message! (Yes, I’ve played that angle in the past as well.)

I had humiliated the poor man and rendered him speechless. He quickly explained the problem and left in a hurry. At which point, my conscience got the better of me and I knew that come Saturday morning, I’d be in the confessional asking for forgiveness of this unnecessary game I had just played for probably the zillionth time in six years.

What was wrong with me, I wondered?

After all these years, and finding happiness a second time around with Mr. Right from CatholicMatch, here I was purposely embarrassing an elderly man. What if he was a widower who had also been through the same sadness I had experienced? What if he had health issues and I was causing him pain?

Later that same evening, I explained my inexcusable behavior to Mr. Right as we were chatting on the phone. Mr. Right told me that several years earlier as a widower with young children he had taken his sons into the eye doctor for a check-up. While the technician was explaining the children’s eye problems to Mr. Right, she happened to mention that it might be a better idea to explain these things to Mrs. Right since she would most likely have a better grasp on children’s issues.

Mr. Right pulled a widower card out of his hip pocket and explained that Mrs. Right was dead and that he was capable of working with the children’s issues on his own. As in my case, the technician was mortified, especially after her superior chided her in front of Mr. Right.

Now when you mention the words widow or widower to me, even I picture elderly, gray-haired people. In my vision, they are retired and have plenty of time to play cards with their friends or play with their grandchildren if they want to.

One thing is for sure: Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that a person could be widowed before the age of 70. Perhaps that’s what most people think and why people are very likely to open mouth and insert foot when it comes to my marital status. Why oh why didn’t I ever consider this before I simply played the Ace of Broken Hearts?


Googling for confession

Since the spectacle I caused on Thursday with the meter man, I became concerned that perhaps I was capable of rendering real harm two days later when I was going to be up against a similar widow/widower issue. My son Andy and his wife, Angie, were scheduled to move into a lovely new home which they had worked and sacrificed for many years to obtain.

As Andy’s mom, I felt that even though I am unable to move furniture, perhaps I should offer to help with my 3-year-old granddaughter Maddie and prepare a small lunch just to show I cared.

I knew it was likely Maddie’s maternal grandparents would be there to assist with the move and my mind was already wondering how I could play the widow card since I didn’t have a husband who would come along to be involved in the physical labor.

I asked myself how I as a single grandparent could ever compete for Maddie’s affection when her other grandparents came as a matched set.

Fortunately, my conscience stepped in and I did a Google search to find a church in the neighborhood that my son was moving into that same morning. I found a quaint parish named “Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary” that held confessions mid-morning on Saturday.

So I set out on the journey to my son’s house determined to seek assistance with my Ace-of-Broken-Hearts issues before they began to ruin what should be a momentous day in my son’s life.

Now, I won’t tell you about my entire confession, but I do want to say this much. The priest was extremely young – as in, younger than my own children. This caused me to wonder how he could ever assist with such an issue. But then I remembered that he would be speaking as Jesus would to his disciples, so I began to listen to his advice and take it to heart.

The priest advised me that instead of playing the widow card, I was to look in my son’s eyes and relish the accomplishments he and his wife had earned together as a couple. I was to see this day as a gift from God himself and their child as a loving reminder of all that is good and right with the world.

I left the church of the Sacred Hearts feeling like a new woman and I did exactly as that young priest said. When I arrived at Andy and Angie’s beautiful new home, Andy embraced me and thanked me for coming. I looked in his eyes and saw a loving husband and father who, together with his sweet wife, was providing the best life possible for their growing family.

Instead of seeing what I didn’t have, I began to see the true gifts that God has provided for my family. The legacy of grandchildren and a future are mine for the asking.

Yes, it was difficult to see my granddaughter Maddie’s maternal grandfather Reid assembling her toddler bed and wishing that it could be my husband, Steven, doing the very same thing. But then I remembered what that young priest had just told me and I pictured my future. I could indeed see my sweetheart Mr. Right doing that very same thing with a smile on his face and love in his heart.

Now I want to impart on you that the very best part of Saturday was the time that I spent with my granddaughter Maddie and her maternal grandmother Debbie. Debbie and I became great friends over a Happy Meal and brought Maddie home with a frilly new headband and a Snow White “novel.” We couldn’t help but chuckle as whenever Maddie wanted to get our attention she would refer to us as “Grandmas.”

Yes, life has thrown me many curves, but as I zoomed down the highway on Saturday as the co-pilot, with Maddie’s Grandma Debbie at the wheel, I couldn’t help but think that I no longer need to play the Ace of Broken Hearts. Jesus told me that himself through a young priest on Saturday morning, and who am I to argue with God?




  1. Julie-831842 May 23, 2012 Reply

    I’ve been a widow for 12 years and admit to feeling very sorry for myself. But my husband’s death has made me independent . I still miss him, even dreamt about him last night. I wish I could be content to be single. But it is a couple’s world and even though I push myself to meet new friends I feel unfulfilled. Can anyone help me on this?

  2. Trista-767207 May 12, 2012 Reply

    My mom passed away when I was in high school and I remember saying bluntly “She Died” all the time to telemarketers. As a teenager my brother and I thought it was funny, but your article made me think. As much as we were probably using the humor to deal with feelings, I never thought of how the person on the other side of the line would feel. God Bless you and your family.

  3. Monica-345711 May 7, 2012 Reply

    Oops…had a mispelling in the prior post. It should be “He refines us LIKE silver and gold (not LIVE silver and gold). Sorry!

  4. Monica-345711 May 7, 2012 Reply

    Barb, Your article was very insightful into human nature and a close walk with God and how He helps us to know ourselves….the good and the not so good. When we try to walk with Him, He refines us live silver and gold. You clearly walk with Him and respond to His unending merciful grace. God bless you in your journey.

  5. Lesley-158563 May 6, 2012 Reply

    Yes, found this very bratty, too. Seems to be a thread in some of her reflections.

    • Barb-505508 May 6, 2012 Reply

      Dear Tessa & Lesley,

      Sorry to hear that you are disappointed in this article. I have written from my heart which is not an easy thing to do. Being widowed at any age is not easy and passing through the five stages of grief is extremely difficult. Jealously and impatience are sins that I readily admit I have been guilty of. The sacrament of reconciliation was given to us as a gift which we can turn to when we have sinned. My faith has been my saving grace and I will continue to seek God’s forgiveness and mercy on a daily basis.

      I hope that God richly blesses both of you with long marriages as well as the gift of healthy, happy children.

      God’s peace and blessings to both of you on this fifth Sunday of Easter.


      • Lesley-158563 May 6, 2012 Reply

        Thank you for your kindness. May your dreams come true!

      • Tessa-694373 May 7, 2012 Reply

        Thank you for your prayers.
        I wish you the best!

  6. Tessa-694373 May 6, 2012 Reply

    You should be grateful that God Blessed you with a husband and second chance at love…instead of acting like a spoiled ungrateful brat…. Single people who have never been married have not even experience the joy of marriage or motherhood like you have….so get over yourself

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