WHAT do people expect from a widow? What do people expect from a widower?
I'm not going to get caught up in the gender-versus-sex debate here, I'm going to stick to what I know.
I am a woman who was married to a man and I have a womb that could bear a child. I'm now a widow who was declared as such by society, because that's how we were brought up. My brother-in-law put it to me unequivocally after the recent death of my other half when I perhaps too jubilantly announced that I was now single. I thought it was gender neutral, but apparently it's not. And, he added: “The corpse is not even cold yet."
I am now in the sixties age group, where people start to die in cases where it is age-related. This means that I sympathise and attend funerals more than often.
Apart from the cream cones that are the best thing since flushing toilets at every coloured funeral's after-tears gathering, the cherry on top is the conversations about what happens to those left behind, specifically the widow or widower.
It seems opinions are divided. The women in that age group grew up under the indoctrination of society that they should jump into the grave with their husbands and remain celibate for the rest of their lives.
In the conversations, the women speak little, listen shyly or offer tea and cream cones. They are also well aware that they have reached Delilah status, because we are now supposedly running after every zip. You can actually see them pulling their other halves with the paunches closer just in case they might ask if you want something stronger than a cup of tea. Delilah!
Men, on the other hand, have no such restraining thoughts about themselves. They believe they have now achieved Adonis status and make no secret of the fact that they cannot live alone.
When I asked one of the younger men who lost his wife how long it took him to re-enter the relationship pool, he was so quick with his answer that my jaw hit the floor: “Immediately. I have to have sex. And I don't want to sleep around at this age; I want to be in a relationship again where I know who I'm going to bed with and that I can do it regularly." Kaboom!
I don't know any woman who would state the truth so openly. Then I started to listen a little more closely and investigated social pages and it's true: the widowers move on faster than the widows.
I have to admit that I'm not up to another relationship. After my husband's long illness, I will first study a DNA analysis of your health history. I want to know what I'm getting myself into. I'm not going to stand next to a sickbed again.
I laugh along with the audience when the comedian Alfred Adriaan jokes that women should please look at men over 40 with a history of high cholesterol. They won't last long and you just have to make sure the insurance policy is in your name. He says we should forget about men who hang out in gyms, they are going to live too long. I look at the women in the audience; they are laughing just a touch too loudly.
In a conversation with a lawyer about rewriting my will, he implores women to be careful with this important document.
Apparently,South African men in my age group are on the global danger list of scammers. They attend funerals like sniffer dogs, looking for defenceless women with a little money. Then they start playing footsie under the table and before long the poor widow is so grateful for the attention that she simply bequeathes her entire estate to the man.
They don't necessarily want to get married; they either want to live together or become weekend suitors. If there is a dispute about the will when the poor widow dies, they plead a common law claim. Just imagine. It's enough to make any woman run for the hills.
“But why do you feel you have to explain how you experience your grieving process? You don't owe people anything," says my friend.
I know. But if we don't speak up, we're not going to move on. I do not belong to a culture where I am going to be handed over to my husband's brother like a piece of furniture after the death of my husband as if I am not competent to live my life as a liberated woman in a liberated society. Thank God. Yet we still live in a society in which the roles of the two sexes are largely controlled through the lens of the male view.
Only 1% of society is pushing ahead with sexual liberation, but in society at large the roles are still strongly delineated. Women care what people think of them. Even I am careful not to become the centre of gossip stories. Therefore, I think the more often and openly we talk about this, the easier it is.
I am one of those fossils who married within community of property. You know, for love. And now I want to tell every young person (young woman), without sounding like a prophet of doom (just look at the divorce statistics), that love can only take you so far before the reality of life kicks in.
Look after yourself. Determine your own orgasms. Get a BOB (Boyfriend on Batteries) in your life.
♦ VWB ♦
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