Father Widow survived childhood by eating his brothers and sisters. When it came time for him to find a wife he thought, "I'm not eating my way out of this."
There were no other black widows where he was born so Father Widow took off into the grass in search of a wife. On his way he encountered a group of mantis brothers gathered in prayer around one of their own, who happened to have no head.
"Where is that fellow's head?" Father Widow asked.
"His wife ate it," said one of the mantis brothers.
"Ate it!" said Father Widow. "What for?"
"For her own good. So that she'll be strong enough to care for the little ones. As a widow you should know that."
Father Widow twiddled his palps. "I know that I am a black widow, and that I am to be a father," he said. "That is all."
The oldest mantis brother's mandible curled into a grin. "You know all you need to know then. You live long enough to die a father," he said.
Father Widow didn't know what the mantis meant by that and looked at the headless one instead. "Are you going to eat that?" he said. One of the brothers boxed at him with his long front arms, severing Father Widow's first left leg from his body. He scurried away without it.
After wandering for ages - which is only about one week and two and a half days in male black widow years - he found a suitable wife living in a tidy web on some sticks at the top of a beaver's dam. She was fat and black and her name was Mother Widow. When she became pregnant she also became very hungry.
"Come here husband, and let me eat you," she said.
"No, thank you," said Father Widow.
Mother Widow rubbed her fangs together. "You only have two jobs, husband. You've already accomplished the first now fulfill the last. I am very hungry," she said.
"I have three jobs," Father Widow said while scratching the spot where his missing leg used to be. "The two you've mentioned and one more, to watch our children hatch and grow."
"How will you be able to do that if I've eaten you?"
Father Widow wasn't sure. He didn't have long to think. "I've done well enough with just seven legs," he thought. "Surely it's no harm to lose a few more."
"Don't eat all of me," he said. "Whenever you feel hungry you may eat one of my legs."
Mother Widow sat on her web watching him. "Let me think about it," she said, and she plucked one of his palps and began to devour it.
Father Widow used his remaining palp to rub the sore spot where the other had been detached from. "That wasn't my leg, dear," he said. So Mother Widow reached out and took his second right leg.
Before long the web was given to hold several sacs of eggs wrapped in silk chambers. With each cluster that Mother Widow laid she took another of Father Widow's legs and ate it until at last he had but one left. He lied in a heap on the web, unable to move.
"Our spiderlings will hatch soon," said Mother Widow.
"That's good," said Father Widow. "I'm on my last leg here."
After a short rest he asked Mother Widow, "What will we name them all?"
"Mother and Father," Mother Widow said.
In a short time the little spiderlings hatched. They were small and pale. When they saw Mother Widow for the first time they cried, "Mother!" When Father Widow saw them for the first time he cried, "Children!"
The little spiderlings scampered over to him, swarmed his body by the hundreds and ate him. So in a way Father Widow did eat his way out of his final dilemma.