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So I found this business card....

Tonight I went through the drawer. His drawer. The top dresser drawer where the stuff goes. You know, the stuff. Like jewelry and birthday cards and prayer cards and, well, stuff. There was a cloth bag with a draw string that looked curious. Oh yeah, forgot about that.....the rosary he held at the memorial service. How could I forget about that? A souvenir Mickey Mouse watch from Disney World that his brother gave him last year. A Swiss Army knife. Another one of those truck stop treasures (as I called them). More on that later. And of course, a stack of business cards. The usual stuff that he would accumulate throughout his travels and purchases. But there was this one card that I can't figure out. So I set it aside to deal with later, and now it is later. How peculiar. I wonder what it means?

The card is from a funeral home in Mexico, MO. We lived near St. Louis a few years back, but we have lived in Houston, TX for seven years. Normally I wouldn't think much of the card, except it has the home phone number hand written on the front of the card and the name is Connie.

Now my mind is beginning to rev up with the "what does it mean" questions and many possible answers. Here it is almost 3:30 in the morning and I will probably not get any sleep. Great.

I looked up the funeral home on Google and found this:

In 1967 Connie Pickering purchased a half-interest in the funeral home from Earl Precht. Connie, his wife Barbara, and their son David, moved into the apartment above the funeral home, and Connie took over the management of the funeral home.

OK, so I can rule out one of the questions/answers in my head. But a half dozen others are knocking around my mind and driving me crazy.

I have to explain a few things in order to put this all in perspective. My husband and I became avid fans of sailing many years ago. That was after we had been avid campers. And avid motor boaters. But there was something about sailing that touched both of our souls. We chartered a monohull out of Tortola BVI a few years back for two weeks and that pretty much sealed the deal for us. We have dreamed of living on a boat, doing some coastal sailing for a few years and then making a passage, possibly to Europe. Our house had been on the market when he died, with our plans to move to his family homestead to help with his mother and brother and in general be closer to family.

One evening, about a week before he died, he was surfing the net and found a beautiful boat for sale in the Caribbean that was perfect for us. The price was right, the deal sounded right, and the timing was right. He called his mother and asked if she would be upset if we bought the boat instead of moving home. She knew how much he wanted to do the sailboat; this was not a surprise to her. Her response to him was "do whatever makes you happy." And she genuinely meant it. She and her husband had only been retired two years when he passed away from an aortic aneurysm while they were fulfilling their dream of full time RVing. She told anyone who would listen that if there was something you wanted to do, then do it because you never know what will happen.

Then he died. A week after this conversation with his mother, he was gone. Ten days after having cataract surgery in one eye he was dead. Three days before he was to have the cataract removed from the other eye, he would never see again. I am so thankful that he had those days to see clearly. He would marvel at the clarity of his sight and the vibrant colors. He was in awe and I was thrilled for him. And I enjoyed taking care of him and having him home for those last weeks all to myself. But he died dammit!

About a month after he died, I decided to tackle cleaning and organizing the garage. He was a real man's man.....a mechanic, parts hoarder (working or not), a do-er, and a collector of tools. OK, I'll admit it, power tools were our thing. We both would get excited about buying a new tool and for my last birthday he bought me a plunge router that I have been hinting at for some time. But I digress.

Our garage was a mess. It had old, dilapidated kitchen cabinets along one wall that were only useful for stuffing things into, never to be found again. So I went to removing them, putting in something more useful and hauling two pick up truck loads of scrap metal to the recycle center. And weeding through buckets of bolts, nuts, screws, things of the I-have-no-idea-what-they-are variety, wire, wood, and coffee cans of stuff. As I was sorting through things, I happened upon a box that was taped closed and from a storage place that I later recognized as being in Missouri. It obviously had been stored in the garage since our move to Texas. As I opened it, the first thing I found was a couple of paper envelopes from the local drug store containing from our chartered sail trip to the BVI. And then there was this one picture of him sitting at our kitchen table in Missouri just looking into the camera. Not smiling, but just looking serious, studious, matter-of-fact. It was eerie seeing that photo. Anyway, the next thing under the photos was his life insurance policy. I started crying. Below that were 40 or 50 magazines from his subscriptions to various sailing magazines. And then his sailing manual. Now I'm really crying. A little more digging and I came across a book by Dave Ramsey (Financial Peace).....that's a whole other story.....and then the repair manual for his pickup truck. More magazines.....and then the kicker. At the bottom of the box, in the corner were some CDs by Manheim Steamroller. Christmas CDs. His favorite. By now I have totally lost it, I am bawling. I'm sure if the neighbors had wandered over, they would have wondered why I'm sitting in the garage crying like a baby.

The significance of the Christmas music has to do with our desire over the past seven or eight years of wanting to basically run away during Christmas and go sailing, rather than participate in the commercialization of the holiday. He would tell his mom and kids to save their money and instead of buying gifts, let's take a trip. But we never did. And now, here was this box.....this box of treasures. His stuff. The stuff that was important to him. And I'm still crying; crying at finding this treasure; crying because I am seeing this as a sign...the sign from him I have been so desperately look for and not finding. And the music on the radio suddenly changes to the theme song for Rush Limbaugh. Someone he knows I despised listening to, but he enjoyed, and he loved to torment me with whenever the opportunity presented itself. The timing was incredible. All I could do was laugh at that point.

And now I have found this business card. This card for a business over 100 miles from where we lived. With the home phone number of the funeral director written on it. What does it mean? We went camping and boating near Mexico one time. Well sort of near Mexico; I know we passed through there. But I can't remember needing the services of a funeral home during that trip. Who is this person?

I keep thinking back to the time we lived in Missouri and he got sick, so sick that I called 911. He was dizzy and vomiting and all I could think was I will never be able to get him up the stairs and into the car and drive 30 miles to the hospital if there was something terribly wrong with him. Him, the man who never got sick. But he was very sick. Something with his heart, but they could never determine exactly what was wrong. He spent four days in the hospital having all kinds of tests done and in the end it was determined that he had an episode of an irregular heartbeat but there was nothing to fix, treat, or be worried about. I wonder if I should contact them and let them know they were wrong. There was most definitely something wrong with his heart. It just quit working. One minute he was here and the next he was gone.

And I can't stop staring at this damn business card.


I too have found things that I cannot explain ... including a scruffy piece of paper with scribbled words on it, as though he were going to write a book. He never shared that with me and it hurts, although he shared enough of himself with me that I understood very well exactly what the scribbled words meant.

Try not to torture yourself about it (easier said than done - I know!) it could be that he had their card because they were planning on buying a boat and therefore had something in common with you both, or perhaps they were selling a boat, or even were simply interested in him contacting them with regards to whatever occupation he did? The possibilities are endless ... if it really gets you to the point of being obsessed with it, you might even phone Connie and ask him if he remembers your husband and let him know that you have lost him? It's your call, personally because you found it with all the sailing stuff, I can't help but conclude that it's something to do with sailing? What do you think?

December 6, 2009 at 7:33 AM  

i agree with Boo. you cannot torture yourself. there are a myriad of reasons for him to have stuck that card away. it's hard when you want to ask them about some little mystery and you know you cannot. if it keeps bothering you, call the person on the card and ask them, as Boo recommended.

two months after my Dragon died, a woman from his college days emailed him checking to see if he were "still single." it was awkward and horrible. why had she suddenly jumped up? she admitted they had not spoken since he'd gotten back from Vietnam all those years ago. she had heard he'd married and divorced. she didn't know about me. she had just gotten on and decided to look up her 'old lover."

talk about a slap in the face. her arrogance while 'apologizing' to that "he probably always carried that torch for me" angered me to no end, and he wasn't there for me to ask him. in the end it was my daughter and all my photos of his smiling at me, all my memories of our time together and our love that help me put it away. but i did block her from ever emailing again. she has tried through several avenues to establish contact to see our photos on Facebook but i have blocked all and now she has stopped.

try not to worry. try not to read too much into it. it will drive you crazy.

i'm holding you in my heart.

December 6, 2009 at 8:36 AM  

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