No Broken Jug

“Are you free on Thursday?” was the question asked.

“I am not sure; I would need to check the diary. Why?” I asked.

“You might like to join us for afternoon tea!” was the answer.

I hesitated.

Afternoon tea involved tea, scones, small pancakes & cakes. Butter, jam & cream also play a part. People who know me well leave aside a plate with an unbuttered scone. Invitations to a new group can cause a problem. I soon discovered that the scones were halved, buttered and topped with a layer of Jam and then a great big blob of whipped cream. Cakes were filled or decorated with a butter icing or a generous layer of cream. Some people were affronted if I didn’t partake of their efforts. I know at least one hostess who half scraped the butter off a scone and then presented it to me. Come on now, that is like picking the nuts out of a Marathon bar and handing the remainder to someone who has an allergy to Peanuts!

Playing for time, I asked a couple of questions about the Thursday afternoon event.

“Oh, it is a meeting of The Minus One Group!” the lady said.

“Minus One” I queried. “I never heard of Minus One”!

Minus One was a group of widows who gathered once a month for a chat over the tea. I promised to check my calendar and get back to the invitee.

I made discrete enquiries and the more I heard, the less I liked the idea of Minus One! I was in the early stage of widowhood at the time. I knew many widows and they seemed to go everywhere in groups of three. For some reason they never went anywhere alone, and seemed restricted to the type of events they attended. I was never into girl only living, I grew up in a male world.

I did not want to go through life like a jug with a broken handle; I wanted to be treated as an independent person in my own right. My husband died; and whether I liked it or not, I was alive and the one left to face life alone. If I was to live as long as my mother and grandmother before me, that would be at least another thirty years. Being alone was certainly no picnic, but I was determined to rebuild a life for myself. I was preparing to return to the workforce and to find new outlets and interests for my long hours of emptiness.

I broke the handle of a jug the other day and it reminded me of Minus One. I wondered…. if I had gone along for afternoon tea on that Thursday how different would my life be. Would I be blogging today or have made and met so many new friends both virtually and in person? I am glad I took the road I did.

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.~ Randy Pausch

24 thoughts on “No Broken Jug

  1. Primal Sneeze

    Now is the time for afternoon tea. And in male company.

    Next time you’re down we we’ll go to the Killashee House Hotel. They do the whole fancy bit – dainty little cups and saucers; tiered trays with triangular sandwiches on the bottom (no crusts); finger pastries; the works.

  2. Nick

    Sounds like you made exactly the right choice in developing your own independence and not wanting to be propped up too much by others. And I share your reservations about those absurdly unhealthy and elaborate afternoon teas. A biscuit or two is quite enough for me.

  3. Grannymar Post author

    @Primal – You’re on! I am practicing the little finger curling as I type! 😉

    @Lily – Thank you!

    @Nick – I have to admit I enjoy the ‘Afternoon Tea’ outing once in a while. My tummy may object to the dairy products, but give me a good scone and nice jam with a coffee and I will sit until the cows come home and chat while others indulge.

  4. Ian

    Never having belonged to anything in my life, I think the idea of a group meeting for tea once a month would be too much.

    We have a group in our parish called the 55 Club – it has no officers no venue and no membership – every few weeks an outing or a meal or a theatre trip or a gallery or a garden visit takes place – there are some people who will go to one thing who would not consider going to another. Sometimes half a dozen people will arrive at the rendezvous, sometimes twenty. it doesn’t matter – I was with a group of seven of them for a visit to the Chester Beatty Library and lunch in the Silk Road cafe.

    It seems much more in keeping with our times than sitting in the same place with the same people having the same conversations!

  5. Nancy


    I have a very dear friend whose husband died twenty five years ago. He was a very successful paint salesman who sold paint in the hundreds of gallons. His customers were the City of New York who bought enough paint to do the Brooklyn Bridge or the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission who would order enough paint to complete the 400+ miles of railing.

    My friend’s husband,Bill,(Not his real name) was a very heavy drinker and was usually inebriated when he sold the paint over a 4 or 5 Martini lunch.

    Bill died very young,about 55, and my friend thought the paint business was going to expire with Bill’s death. The first call she got was a customer who wanted to buy 1,000 gallons and she told him about her husband’s death and turned down the order. Then she began to think to herself,”Just a minute; if Bill could run this successful business drunk, surely I can run it sober.” She called the buyer back and took his order.

    As I said, that was many years ago and she took over that business and never looked back. She still runs that paint business and is now in her 80’s, but planning to retire soon and turn the customers over to her daughter.

    Have to run. Today is Election Day (LOCAL) and I work at the Polling Place.

  6. Grannymar Post author

    @Hails – It is the colourful ‘pick & mix’ of all of us that makes the blog world an interesting place.

    @Ian – At that stage committees Ruled OK! Not alone did they tell you where to sit but what to say and how to think. Committees are the ruination of wo/men kind the world over. Perhaps that is why I like the ‘Unconference’ way of the technology world, it is all inclusive.

    @Nancy – Great story. I once worked at a Polling Station… long day. Now there is an idea for a post! 😀

  7. Magpie11

    Well you give us males food for thought… Have to say I prefer female company… on my father’s death my mother went out and got a variety of jobs…my (then) eleven year old sister went off to a boarding Grammar School….

  8. Annb

    Yet another great post Grannymar. My mother experienced some very similar situations when my father died young. Like you, she took the less worn path and is all the better for it. It must have taken real raw strength for you to continue and indeed thrive after your loss, I hope you take time to be proud of your brave choices.

  9. kenju

    I think you and I are a lot alike. I love my women friends, but I do not want to spend all my time with them, or to limit myself to people who are all in the same time of life as I. How boring that would be!! You obviously made the right choice.

  10. rummuser

    That is a queer name for a club of widowed women. I suppose that the same can be used for widowers! Minus One in that case of course can cause some merriment and wonder at publicly calling themselves as such. What would you suggest for widowered (?) men that can be appropriate? I am not of course suggesting that they troop off once a week for scones, but just say for academic interest!

    Incidentally, in Indian languages there is no word for a widower. A man is not supposed to be a widower ever! Food for thought what?

  11. Grannymar Post author

    @Magpie – we all need to think of how we see and treat each other. From my point of view mixed company gives a balance to life.

    @Annb – I would not wish the loneliness of widowhood on my worst enemy. True friends remained loyal, but in my case they were a long distance away. Elly was my main focus to keep going in those early days.

    @Judy – I know people who go out at the same time every Friday night, to meet the same friends in the same pub and have the same conversation. That might work for students, but gets boring pretty quickly.

    @Ramana – What am I going to do with you! 🙄 I think we will leave the men minus one quietly on the side!

    Now for a collective noun for widowed men… how about
    ‘A vagary of impediments’ or
    ‘A pantheon of gods’, take your pick!

  12. Darlene

    I have never been a joiner and I found that the clubs that included the same people week after week palled very quickly. As Joanne Worley used to say as she twisted her finger in her dimple, “Boring!”.

    I love my Internet friends and find them more stimulating than the widows in my area.

  13. bikehikebabe

    Cathy in NZ (New Zealand) said (in Jean’s cheerfulmonk blog–Digging for the Treasure), that she was having trouble buttering her scone. I asked why are you buttering it?–“Scones are already too greasy.” She made this Comment:

    Guess what ! bikehikebabe……you have just made me realise that ‘our scone’ is not ‘your scone’

    I believe you call them ‘biscuits’…..

    However that in turn leads to ‘your biscuits’ are not ‘our biscuits’

    I think you call ‘our biscuits’ ……’your cookies’…

  14. Grannymar Post author

    @Darlene – I quickly discovered that all the same people were members of all the organizations and clubs here, they seemed to be collectors of committees, so the clothes people wore changed but nothing else did!

    @bikehikebabe – Scones are not like your cookies, for a lesson in how to make them click here. (Not me in the video!)

  15. wisewebwoman

    Gee I hate any association identified by labelling it in the negative – as in Minus One. Minus one what ? Oh silly me – the better half of course. Better than what? the one who survived? Grrrr.
    You made a very good choice, GM and look where’s it got you. Highteched up the razzamattazz and toyboys up…..oh,never mind.
    Scraping the butter off you say? Oh, classy!

  16. Conrad

    Grannymar, I like the way you played a difficult hand. It’s like my mother told me, the challenge isn’t facing when you live and when you die – it’s actually living until you die!

  17. Baino

    Well GM you know I’m in the same boat and have been for 25 years. I raised my kids alone, supported them financially, saw them through to becoming Graduates and whilst it’s been lonely sometimes, not once have I been to a Dinner for Six or a Parents Without Partners. It seemed that there was something ‘wrong’ with me for not wanting to have a partner, for being the third, fifth or even 11th wheel. I did see invitations decline where ‘even’ numbers were preferred but ultimately, I’m relatively happy with my lot and am independent, strong and above all ‘capable’ despite my sometimes ruminations about being useless. Good for you . . women are stronger than some think!

  18. Grannymar Post author

    @Conrad – Welcome on board! Your mum is so right. It reminds me of people who talk about living with an illness, when in fact the illness is the tenant and living with the person.

    @Baino – You did and are doing a great job. It was my experience that widows died at 3pm. We were invited to morning coffee and lunch, but dinner never in case we ran off with someones husband! Nowadays with all my Toyboys, I am no threat to anyone and welcome to all events just for being me! I love it!

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