February 10, 2010

Random Accounts, Junk Mail & Telemarketers

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 11:59 pm by letterstoelias

Hello My Love,

I will ‘hopefully’ be brief tonight, as I have my final business plan presentation tomorrow.  This is where I present to the committee and find out if my plan is solid enough to continue with funding, and then I will be ‘set free’ to put the actual plan in action and open the store.  So, it’s a good night to actually try to get to sleep at a decent time . . . .

Anyhow, I wanted to drop a quick note because, in my last letter I wrote about how perhaps if I took my rings off I would avoid some uncomfortable situations where I would find myself explaining that you died.  I realized the other day that it really wouldn’t make that much of a difference – the rings are such a small factor in the many other ways it comes up regardless.

I went to buy paint for the office the other day.  As soon as the sales person asked for my phone number, I knew what was coming.  The account would definitely have your name on it, and they would ask if that was right.  Why I don’t just nod and say yes, I’m not sure.  Does it matter?  I’m sure not.  But for whatever reason I mumble out that yes, that was my husband.  They hear the word ‘was’ and, in wanting to clarify that we didn’t divorce (yet again, why would I care if the paint guy thinks I’m divorced anyhow?  But, I guess it’s because I still love you and still feel married . . .), I mutter out that you died.

I thought for a moment that I may be able to try and pull off some humour and say, ‘So, I don’t think he’ll be buying paint any time soon’, but I couldn’t bring myself to it.  I have to also admit, I was pretty surprised at how nonchalant he responded – almost cheerfully stating, ‘So, what do you want to change the name to then?’  A similar thing happened at another store a month or so back – and it’s not that I expect a big pitty party from sales clerks, but at least that guy showed a bit of sympathy.

Aside from these types of accounts your name is on (and I still haven’t worked up to calling our satellite provider to have your name taken off that account), I still get mail for you – plenty of junk mail (your credit rating must be great as Visa seems to really want you to sign up), including one that was an offer to apply for life insurance.  Go figure.  And, its ‘great’ when telemarketers call for you.  I really hate that, because they only first ask for your name, and as I don’t know if it may have something to do with something I haven’t taken your name off of yet (like our car loan?), I always ask what it’s regarding.  Then they just seem to assume I’m the right person and kick into their long distance services, or whatever, pitch.  As if telemarketers aren’t irritating enough – getting them for your dead husband really sucks (and I’m so thankful to know you get my humour here. . . ).

As awful as it may sound, it would almost be helpful if there were some central system for everything to record the fact that you died so that these types of things would stop coming up.  Like I really need all these little kicks to the gut.  It’s constant.  Not that you are ever off my heart and mind, and I am fully aware that you are gone (though stil, at times, I can’t believe it), but I could do without the extra ‘reminders’.

It’s also hard to feel like I stick out like a sore thumb sometimes.  While I greatly appreciate the care and thoughtfulness of E’s preschool teachers, when I’m there sometimes I notice she makes a point of saying things like, ‘the cards you made for your mommies and daddies, or your mommie’.  I am the only one who will get a card just for ‘mommie’.  E is the only kid with just a mommie.  I was there today when they put all the cards in the mailbox. They called out names, Mr & Mrs so and so, or the first names of two parents for each card, except for mine.  Just, ‘Chelsea’.  And, at the preschool meetings, which are 99% mothers/wives, comments are thrown out about volunteering our husbands for this and that, and one day the teacher made a joke about calling all the dads to get us moms into trouble about something or other, then she looked at me and quickly tried to add, ‘And the Grandmas!  We’ll call the Grandma’s too!’  She’s incredibly sweet and I’m not mad about any of it – I know she’s just trying to make sure we feel included – it’s just hard to know that we really are a ‘different’ family now.

Well, the clock is getting away from me and though I always have more I wish to share, I should get to bed.  Wish me luck for the presentation, and hopefully I’ll write again with how it all went down, before I go away on the weekend.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

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10 Comments »

  1. Good luck on your presentation!!!!! I look forward to hearing all about it.

    I know how unsettling it is when our families are so different from everyone else around us. I teach Aidan Social Studies and yesterday in class we were talking about needs and wants. One students said “Your parents. I wouldn’t be able to live without my mom and dad.” I looked at Aidan, knowing exactly what he was thinking. And I could have just moved past it but the mother bear in me decided we needed to use it as a teaching moment. These kids all knew Austin as he was their Principal so they all know that Aidan’s dad died. I said that sometimes we are forced to survive without one, or sometimes horribly both, of our parents. And that we’ve learned in our house that it is possible to survive without a parent. It’s sad and difficult but it is possible. Maybe a better way to describe the situation is that it isn’t possible to survive without people who love us, whether they be our parents, grandparents, other family member or dear friends. And then tears leaked from my eyes, in front of Aidan’s whole class of grade 6 & 7 students. He was sad for me and horrified all at the same time. And I wondered why I didn’t just stay quiet. Why did I feel the need to turn it into a teaching moment? Maybe I just wanted to validate that Aidan is surviving without his dad. Maybe I just wanted to let the other students know that we are all stronger than we may ever realize and that if something horrible happens to them in the future, they’ll be ok. I don’t know why I did it, but I do know that, like you, I’m not able to just nod my head and not acknowledge the fact that my husband died. And I still get phone calls and mail and his name popping up on accounts, too. Just one more thing that we all have in common, unfortunately.

    On a more positive note, I’m really looking forward to Saturday!!!! See you then!

    • letterstoelias said,

      Hi Deb!

      I already told you how great I think it is that you spoke up in Aidan’s class, and I’m sure he knows it too.

      It was SO wonderful to meet you, and I hope your ‘grief vacation’ is all you were hoping it would be. Can’t wait to hear from you again soon.
      ~C~

  2. Dan said,

    Hi Chelsea,

    Reading this reminded me first off that I have successfully avoided this type of situation the best way possible. I have taken myself out of social contexts’ where this tends to come up. When I am in these situations, it does seem to always come up. A couple of days ago the school principle asked me if there was someone else at home to take care of my son, as he was being suspended. I looked at her, and she quickly tried to shift her approach. Our family therapist has mistakenly commented to the kids about their “parents.” He always corrects himself, yet it happens. I know that I still refer to Michael as if he is still here at times, so it must be difficult for those who are not faced with the fact that he is gone very often.

    I just try to always have my guard up. At home we always announce what mail Michael received today. Rather than quietly feel awkward, the kids have adopted this way of handling the situation. It actually feels somewhat endearing. I have the most difficult time with this at work, where peers will often make mention in groups about our spouses. I always look down, as the eyes tend to move in my direction.

    Wish I had the answers. On the other hand, we received a Valentine’s Day card from my parents yesterday. It was addressed to me, and then each of the kids’ names. It hurt that Michael’s name was not on the card.

    • letterstoelias said,

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your understanding, and your ways of coping. I find it so helpful to hear from others, as you know. I managed to avoid so many social situations like that for many months, but once pre-school started in the fall, as it’s a parent participation pre-school, it makes it tough to avoid.

      I like your solution to the issue of the mail though – that’s a good idea! It makes more sense than me bitterly ripping it up. I don’t know if my girls would be too young to get that though . . .

      And, yes – cards for just the three of us still get me.
      ~C~

  3. Roads said,

    All those little reminders — in some ways they can almost be the hardest things. The sales calls and junk mail are annoying, although they stopped eventually when we moved house.

    As for the school — that really hurts. On all sorts of levels. Those unthinking references to taking things home to your Mums and Dads (and so often they just said ‘Mums’. Teachers try their best, but they can’t remember every time. And then, as you go on to imply, there’s that feeling of being isolated as a lone parent when there are so many bloody perfect nuclear families all around you.

    And it’s worse than that, because even most lone parents do have a partner stashed away somewhere. For widows and widowers, it’s really hard not to feel different — almost tainted and singled out by fate at times, in fact. I found that very isolating, but then as a Dad mostly surrounded by Mums at the school gate, it was never going to be easy.

    The only consolation is that the kids really didn’t seem to take as much notice of these crass reminders as much as I did. They just made the mental adjustment, without the emotional torture.

    Even today, after all these years, these situations occur much more rarely, but they can still crop up.

    In the shoe shop — what size are your Mum’s feet?

    Or just occasionally, I meet someone I haven’t met for years. I can feel it coming, and end up just waiting for it.

    Hey — how is that family of yours? Did you and that pretty girlfriend make a go of it?

    Er, fine. And, er, yes. But then, er, you see …

    Yes, well, often I do spare them the details. It’s easier than watching their jaws hit the floor, seeing them squirm with embarrassment and then having no choice but to jump in with all that ‘Oh no, really, we’re fine,’ bullshit. Or all that explaining. I mean, we are fine, but sometimes you don’t want to go through all that again for the ten zillionth time.

    I’m sorry. Spirits up.

    • letterstoelias said,

      Hi Roads,

      You are right – the kids don’t seem to notice these things nearly as much, and I’m sure as the years go by, every year with a new teacher, it will only continue to crop up. And, yes – I am rather tired of the words ‘fine’ and ‘ok’.

      Thanks, as always
      ~C~

  4. Joe said,

    On a lighter note (because that will keep you sane!) When my dad died at a young age, my mom dealt with telemarketers by telling them she would just put the phone down and see if she could get him to come to the phone…..the record was a guy that actually held for almost half an hour!

    It kept her smiling.

    • letterstoelias said,

      I love that! Thanks for sharing that one Joe!

      ~C~

  5. Sarah said,

    there is a Web site you can register your husband on that notifys all junk-mailers that he is deceased. and of course …I can’t remember what the h it’s called. grrrrrr.

    anyway, thinking of you and drinking a glass of wine for us all.

    • letterstoelias said,

      Hi Sarah,

      If you remember – let me know! Though, it’s probably different in Canada anyhow, but it would be worth a shot . . . .

      Thinking of you,
      ~C~


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