Widow card fail: Why I’m turning in my card

I used my widow card the other day. But it must have expired. Because it didn’t work. Maybe I should quit using my situation as a means of manipulation, or as an excuse, ya think?



Photo credit: Pixabay


So, the failed-widow-card-cancer-card story. Hubby and I had done no major service on our 2004 previously-owned, all-wheel-drive, great-in-snow-and-ice Honda SUV since we bought it. Just the minor stuff, which Hubby handled.

And so the other day, when I dropped the vehicle off for free airbag recall repair, Service Guy said I needed the 100,000-mile check-up. (Not me, actually, but my vehicle.)

Spark plugs. Belts and gaskets. Adjust engine valves. Tire rotation. Brake pads. Filters and fluids and lubrication and coolants. Because as far as I know, they were all 100,000 miles old.

(Although I do know the windshield wiper fluid is new because I — all by myself — filled it recently. Hubby would be so proud.)

When I picked up my rig, Service Guy went through the list of what they did: “And we threw in some new windshield wipers.”

“Great … thanks!” I smile brightly.

Later, looking over the invoice, I noted they charged me $19.90 for the windshield wipers they threw in. Wait … doesn’t *throwing in* suggest free? As in complimentary? 

So I went back for my twenty bucks. Shamelessly intending to use the widow and cancer cards.

Me: “My husband normally took care of these things, but since he died of cancer I just want to understand what you meant when you said you threw in windshield wipers, but here on page two you charged me for them. Did I mention that I’m a cancer widow and you should give me my way?” Maybe not in those exact words.

And then Smooth-Talking Service Guy gave some random explanation that involved a run-on sentence.


I didn’t quite get his logic, but I smiled and thanked him, seeing that the double whammy of the widow and cancer cards hadn’t worked, and so there was no use arguing over $19.90 with a fast-talking pro when I know so little nothing about auto tune-ups and the subsequent invoicing system.

If there is a point to this blog—which is not always the case—then it would be this:

We have to eventually turn in our cards — all those cards we use as excuses.

The Widow Card. I’m too alone.

The Cancer Card. My disease is too terminal.

The Over-40, Over-50 or Senior Citizen Card. I’m too old. It’s too late.

The Single Parent Card. I’m too overwhelmed, exhausted. 

The Disability Card. I’m too limited, unqualified, incapable, untrained.

The Race Card. My skin is too brown, too white, my accent too thick.

It’s time we lose the cards.

Here are 8 steps for what to do after we’ve been brave enough to let go of our good excuses:

1. Rediscover our goals. What have we always wanted to accomplish, but cancer or widowhood or single-parentness is keeping us from it?

2. Write a plan. Dream on paper. Figure out first steps. And second and third steps. Determine what it’s going to cost. Figure out if we need to take someone with us.

3. Move forward. What is the first thing we can do that will move us toward the vision? Sometimes that first step is the biggest step ever.

4. Allow for rejection. Want to start a business? Earn a higher education? Write a book? Apply for a grant? Build a house? Don’t expect every investor, university, publisher, scholarship committee, grantor, planning commission to say, Yes the first time. Rejection is part of the process. But rejection doesn’t have to be defeating.

5. Keep moving forward. If Plan “A” doesn’t work, what’s Plan “B”?

6. There could be more rejection. Don’t give up because we get rejected twice, ten times, a hundred times.

7. Keep pursuing the goal. What’s Plan “C”? Plan “M”?

8. Accomplish the goal. See how much wiser, stronger, more compassionate we are for having persevered toward the vision? Now celebrate. And start the process all over again with our next goal.

What about you? What excuses have you been making for not taking that stretch into uncomfortable places, for not following your heart? Lose the card.

P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Karen Wykes

    Thank You Marlys for sharing your profound wisdom (and humor!) You are a treasure, Karen

    • Thanks for reading, Karen! Aren’t you impressed with how knowledgeable I’m becoming about vehicles? I mean, really … who would have thought I’d ever know how to fill the windshield wiper fluid tank under the hood? Who would have thought I’d ever know how to open the hood?!

  2. Your 8 steps are excellent. 7 1/2 years a widow, I’ve slowly figured out most by trial & error. I’m not sure about turning in the widow card, though. Just be careful how we use it–not for pity or special favors but as an honest admission of our status & needs. So many times I’ve had to say, “I don’t understand…I don’t know how…I’ve never done this…Please show/help/explain…” And then there’s solo travel. I’ve learned to tell the concierge in advance, “I’m an older woman traveling alone. Please make reservations at restaurants that are appropriate and a short, safe walk from the hotel.”

    • “Just be careful how we use it – not for pity or special favors but as a honest admission of our status & needs.” Well said, Ella. You’re exactly right. Thank you!

  3. I sometimes play the “old lady who doesn’t know anything about all this technology stuff” when it comes to my “smarter than me” phone. When I can’t figure out how to do something, and don’t want to take the time to figure it out, I take it to the fancy phone store offer it to the young person (is she really old enough to have a job?) working and say, “I need help.” Of course they fix it for me, and sometimes slow down enough to show me how to do it the next time. Loved this. You are so right.

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