Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Settling Into Our New Life

Rainbow River in Dunnellon, Florida

With the celebration party behind us, we are enjoying the food leftovers and delighting so much in being with each other.

relaxing in the shade at the cemetery

As I've said many times since my first husband passed away over 19 months ago, the loneliness of widowhood is profound. For the first ten months the tears came frequently and I could not picture myself in a happy state of mind again. Ever. 

Mr and Mrs Sand Hill Crane at the cemetery;
6 babies nearby but not in photo

People who have been through it told me it would get better. They added I would never be the same, but the pain would somehow lessen. True to that prediction, at about the nine month mark, I replaced my wedding rings with a ruby ring my husband had given to me and at ten months I admitted to myself that it might be nice to have dinner with a man, to have pleasant conversations, to hear the masculine side of things once again. 

Swampy's Bar and Grille,
Dunnellon, Florida

I did not have my eyes set on anyone. At that time, I was not even acquainted with any single men in my town.  Thoughts of dating were intimidating. I let them go, preferring to see how my life would unfold without running ahead of myself.

Gary at Swampy's

For the sake of my long-time readers, I won't repeat the specifics of what happened when a mutual friend introduced me to a widower during my 12th month of grief. But if you don't know the story, you can click here and read how it all happened. At the very end of each post, after the comments, click on the left side of the screen, on "Newer Post" to see our story in chronological order.


I will admit that the attraction we had for each other escalated quickly, which was a wonderful transformation of our psyche from the months of grief we had endured from our losses.

river view from our table

Thanksgiving was behind us, so our first dates were during the Christmas season. We hosted Christmas dinner together for a neighbor couple, a little surprised and delighted in how easy it was to entertain together. 

another view of the Rainbow River
alongside Swampy's

We saw each other nearly every day until late January when I became ill with a high fever. That was my first serious illness since the death of my husband. I could not help but wonder how a single adult living alone in a big house is supposed to cope with sickness? Would I be clear enough in my head to know if and when to call for help?  What kind of help would I need? 

Lunch at Swampy's

I had a mild case of COVID when my first husband was diagnosed. After my recovery, when medical science provided vaccinations and boosters, I took them all. But since both Gary and I had lost our spouses to COVID, my high fever was alarming. 

Of course, you have guessed correctly in thinking Gary came to my aid. Not willing to chance losing another love to the pandemic, he took me to the hospital emergency room one night and a day or two later when I was no better, he escorted me to Urgent Care. He watched over me closely and just like a romance novel, I survived. Our newfound love grew stronger in the process. 

photography by Jersey Boy

Now here we are, 6 months later, an exclusively committed couple settling into our lives together. The dailyness of life is with us. It's delightful getting to know each other a little better every day as we go about normal activities both as a couple and individually. 

trimming the Live Oak tree

I've learned that on many mornings, Gary enjoys spending a couple of hours outdoors with the upkeep of our yard. Several times I've helped to steady his ladder as he thinned out the branches of the Live Oak tree beside the driveway. He diligently trims his bushes and those of a "snow bird" neighbor, as well as the shrubbery at my property.

Gary has learned that association with me means he is "blog fodder." He has also become my proof-reader for every post, catching typing errors, suggesting topic choices to address or delete, and so forth.

making dessert

Gary has picked up on the fact that I enjoy cooking things for him that he could not make for himself during his bachelor days. Here I am preparing Lemon Bars, of which he said to me 3 times (THREE TIMES!!) "these are really good!" (recipe at the end of this post)

Lemon Bars are good with a mug of coffee

I said earlier that we are enjoying the leftovers from our celebration party. We over-bought on some items, so these hot summer afternoons have been made more bearable with ice cream floats prepared by my man:

one day it was made with Coke; 
on this day it was with Root Beer

Getting our exercise, errands and work done in the morning hours has become our norm. Most days we ride our bicycles several miles within the boundaries of our gated community. About once a week we practice our bocce skills. We also ride our neighbor's golf cart to check the mailbox and weeds at my house.

keeping the battery working in
Al and Gail's golf cart

Then after lunch we are usually on the lanai with our books, checking email, and listening to music from old to current, classic to pop and everything in-between. Sometimes we even slow dance when the mood strikes. Mmmm!

I've eschewed sewing over the past 19 months because I just couldn't concentrate, but of late I've done some altering of shorts for Gary and tacked down facing on a sun dress for me. Just like riding a bike, I haven't forgot how to sew.

$25 sun dress from Target

We keep up with our friends, both as a couple and individually. Gary's high school graduation class was quite small and several of them still keep in touch. He catches up on their news and they inquire about his new love.

sympathy card for a friend

My friendships have been strongly affected by my grief. No experience is ever wasted in God's economy. I take that statement very seriously. While I am thrilled and grateful more than words can express for the love God has brought into my life with Gary, I don't ever want to completely forget how it felt to learn I was a widow. 

Scripture tells us we will always have the poor with us. I want to add that we will always have widows (and widowers) among us. I know the Lord wants me to be mindful of these people, to be sensitive to what they are feeling. 

As they say, "It takes one to know one." There are some things we cannot possibly understand until we've gone through it ourselves. We must not judge how others handle their grief but be patient with them, love them, spend time with them as they allow, and wait for their healing to manifest, no matter how long it takes. There may be some missteps along the way, but kindness will win out over harshness. 

To get back to how we are "settling in," we enjoyed the 4th of July at home, watching both the fireworks in Washington DC and in New York City, smacking our lips over grilled burgers with fries and the last bites of those Lemon Squares. The Lord gave us a good hard rainstorm late that afternoon, so I thanked Him for the free water on our grass! 

In spite of the celebrations of the holiday, our nation is taking some extremely hard knocks that seem to be increasing in number and severity. 

The Lord is in control, even in the worst of times. We trust that He has not deserted us. Hard times strengthen us, make us more persevering, teaching us to be strong. We learn from our mistakes and figure out how to do things right. 

That has certainly been true as I've progressed through my season of grief. I'm also learning that just as God is in control and wants me to trust Him, He does not want me to wallow in sadness. I thank Him for the joys He has given to me with new love, new friends and the deepening of relationships I already had. 

enjoying one of Hallmark's 
Christmas in July movies

Until next time, grace and peace. Scroll down to see that promised recipe.

* * * * * * * *

Lemon Squares

Recipe adapted from page 38 of The Quilter's Kitchen by Jennifer Chiaverini. Yield: 16 squares (unless you cut them larger!)

For the crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 stick butter, chilled and chopped

For the filling:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 large eggs at room temperature

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

zest and juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter or line with parchment paper and 8x8-inch pan.

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until well-combined. While the machine is running, drop pieces of butter into the flour and combine until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Press into the prepared pan, transfer to the oven, and bake until golden, about 22 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the filling, place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Pour into the cooled crust, transfer to the oven, and bake until golden, still at 350 degrees F., about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Cut into 16 squares.

Note: using fresh lemons for the juice and zest makes a huge difference in the success of this recipe.


  1. Well, I think you and Gary need to travel to NE Louisiana and we'll put you up in our lovely guest suite (it's private and not a part of the main house). I'm so happy for both of you and the new happiness you both have found in each other. Keep on enjoying life!

  2. I have reviewed one thousand books in two years electronically. This blog is one of the best I have read…chapter by chapter. First your story should encourage others to be wise and vaccinate…one little shot…might save a life…mask and isolate when needed. Second…it is a miracle that you two met and meshed so quickly…as to our country. We know that each generation wipes its hands at times of what is going on…we will survive… it is not just our country…others are suffering also. If people raise their children right and do not expect others to do it for them, things will get better. I have faith in God that He is in control. People need to read history. Each time someone has been appointed or elected, read about who appointed them or helped them get elected. Many surprises. Thank you for your daring blog about a couple that have become so much a part of our lives. I continue to pray that the legalities work out for you. Tell that sweet Gary that he is a good editor.

  3. So happy for you and Gary. You deserve happiness. Enjoy your lives together. May the love of Jesus fill your hearts and Bless your relationship.

  4. I am always happy to see you pop up in my Feedly, Barb! The pictures you shared here are happy ones and, as I've said often, I am so happy for both you and Gary!! God is so good!! Those ice cream floats look amazing. I love a good Brown Cow (root-beer float)!! Your lemon squares look good! Love & hugs, dear friend!!

  5. I don't know which sounds better... root beer floats or lemon bars. It's been ages since I've had either. Thanks for the update on you two lovebirds! :)

  6. I've appreciated following along on your story, and have learned from your honesty. I'm thankful God brought Gary and you together and wish you many happy years!

  7. The next time you go to Swampy's (right down the road from us, grin) let us know. I am so happy that your happy, smiles. Waving to Gary. smiles

  8. I love to see how God has brought you both through your seasons of grief and has given you new joys, new hopes, and new love. I also love that you both have honored the memories of your departed loved ones and that you each understand each other's grief and sorrows. I also love to see God's promise that although "weeping may endure for a comes in the morning"...(Psalm 30:5) has proven so true in your lives. What a mighty God we serve! "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3) Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story with us. It is a much bigger love story than just between you and is also between God and you both as well. So very happy for you.

  9. The pictures along the water are so pretty. Looks like a nice little restaurant. I am happy you have someone to visit all those places with these days.
    Enjoy the days and count the good in life. I can't live with the news. I have just had to do the things I enjoy and pray that God will be merciful to His people.

  10. I so love reading about your journey. Enjoy each day the Lord has given!

  11. Swamp's looks like a cool place to dine and enjoy the views. Barbara, thank you for continuing to share your journey with us. I am glad that the Lord brought Gary into your life as He brought you into Gary's.

  12. So inspiring to read your stories of faith. Personally, I cannot identify with being so dependent on a relationship with a man, and it seems like being someone’s partner is your identity.

  13. You sound busy and content with each other. It's true that it's hard to imagine widowhood before you get there. Hard to imagine the emptiness left when you've shared oneness with someone for so long. I know that if I'm the one who hangs around longer than Dear I wouldn't be able to continue living on this property, or I wouldn't want to continue living on this property. I'd have to sell and move into town. It's nice to have a proofreader!

  14. God has certainly blessed you both, Barbara! I so enjoyed reading your post here today, my friend, and can certainly feel the love you have for one another.

  15. So good to know that you are settling into yet another new journey. God has surly been writing a story hasn't He? I love you sharing with us. It sure has ministered to me more than you know at the faithfulness of God if we simply trust Him. Hugs and blessings, Cindy