From the New Testament, Jeff’s father chose selected verses from John 14.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.”
“Believe in God, believe also in me.”
“In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.”
Dwelling places; the phrase slammed me. For some reason; a jolt. It’s one I’ve never understood. A point of confusion really: how many Heavens are there? I heard other familiar bible bits drift in from a long way off. In between each, echoed “dwelling places.”
My recollection of the dedicated meditation time was that I did not. Instead, irrationally irked, I internally re-played Roger’s specific “dwelling places” passage request, and wished the meditative time would end.
As a mark to the end, the Ministries announced that we would be moving into remembrances and microphones would be available if anyone chose to share their special memories of Jeff. I know they both clergy spoke, in turn. I cannot tell you what either said.
I can tell you that when pulled my own paragraphs from Jeff’s ‘funeral file’ last night, I was shocked to see I possess some semi-detailed notes. This isn’t the first time I’ve culled papers from the chest. It’s a bit unnerving not to remember ever having seen them before just because of the volume.
There are five pages. Three pages and one extra line of pink college rule, which, at first glance, I believed were in my mother’s handwriting. I compared it to the one-page neon yellow printer stock on which she wrote her thoughts. I can’t definitively say one way or the other. The brilliant paper Mom used however, no doubt was taken from our Michigan Hot Sauce Club stash for monthly newsletters and mail adverts.
There’s a list of the same color that seems to have be compiled by Jeff’s sister. I’m unsure if it is a role-call, an invite list or rows of still-to-be-notified. On the other side, are notes in my handwriting. Names, phone numbers, time of day or night, some doodle work, plus the note ‘figure out the store.’ That last one wasn’t in my pen.
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Pink College Rule Pages (1-4), Group Eulogy Contributions
I decorate for Christmas.
Some years, not a single soul sees it. Some years, maybe one or two or three tops.
But, that’s because I travel, and it really doesn’t matter. I do it for me.
I refrained for many years. I could only see painful reminders. I suppose if there was such a thing, I’d say my grief has matured.
One year, I decided I’d at least try. I went through the box and struggled through each memory. Then, I went to World Market and Target and Meijer and struggled through buying new non-traditional décor in fuschia pink and winter blue and brilliant 80’s lime-ish green.
I couldn’t bring myself to put up the unique partial tree that Jeff and I had marveled over. Imagine a fake three-foot fir in a wicker basket – neatly sliced in verticle half to allow for wall hanging.
We used it in the townhouse, much to Miss Fred’s annoyance. She’d sit near the wall and balefully mewl. I suspect she was either trying to convince the tree to come down and play or she believed her caterwauling would spur us into action and bring all the shiny things down to her level.
It seems every year, I’ve managed to find the baby-steps, bits and pieces strength to add another sentimental piece. At least that’s what my lighted, miniature, fake burlap sack ensconced pine tree is telling me.
These are a few of my favorite things:
The purple and gold swirl paint bulb Jeff made.
The beaded snowman pin that Jeff also made
A tiny box with a big message from my mother-in-law, Sally
The tree topper is a handmade ornament from Nannee Vincze
The paper folded pinecone is a purchase I made at a craft show from a couple who reminded me so much of us.
The glass chili pepper is part of a set of six I bought for Jeff the Christmas after our store opened.
The Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh were a beautifully authentic biblical present to myself, and to others one year.
The Hershey kiss angel, by my best guesstimate, is somewhere between 20-25 years old – the result of a crafting episode with my sister-in-law.
The illuminated pine bottle was a gift this year from a friend who likes to call me ‘sis’.
The miniature Hannukah lamp was a gift from my mother that year we took her to Bronner’s. That is a story unto itself.
The nativity was my first, acquired the same year I purchased my condo.
The tatted cross is a gift that is a story unto itself, as well. A heritage heirloom I was astonished and honored to receive from a family that wasn’t mine to start with, but now completely is.
The Christmas Loon comes from the same family. No one has ever able to explain why, and the only thing I’ve found on the internet is a reference to the Loon being the state bird of Minnesota.
And I have no idea where the super shiny sparkly pine cone came from or how it landed in my Christmas storage tote, but… I like it.
All of this sits on the top of my living room hutch. There’s a lot of love crammed onto the four-foot-long top, which is conveniently completely Blu proof. He’s got jumping issues.
Happy Christmas from me. Repeating an adored adopted phrase, I’m the one who wants you to know – God loves you, and so do I. Noel.
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Once I assured myself Jeff’s mask situation was secure, I headed to the other end of our house. Out of courtesy. I doubt my husband would have woken up if I’d exercised my option to use our en suite. Since he was solidly sleeping, I didn’t want to take the chance.
By the end of August 2019, with the help of Jeff’s Salsapalooza plan, our still relatively tiny store (although, comparatively, a mansion to our minuscule starter-store) had broken even YTD. We were unbelievably ecstatic knowing we’d be heading into the holiday season in great shape.
Yes, we’d have to work hard to keep the momentum going. Hopefully, we’d need to keep purchasing stock. The final quarter of 2006 could be significantly profitable, fuel the future of our business and solidify our dream.
With any luck, MHSC could conceivably close out non-red in just our third year.
Of course, we weren’t planning on letting it be a luck thing. We’d never leave it up to that. It would be a face-to-face, phone-to-phone, email-to-email, direct mailbox mail, somewhat prehistoric print, semi-regular radio, and weekly BNI thing.
That same year, we’d also created a postcard mailing advert for Jeff’s next fantastic idea – Sauce of the Month Club. We simultaneously debuted the program in our web-store.
When the very first participant signed up and purchased the plan on-line, it was a banner day.
Jeff was hilariously giddy, grinning from ear to ear. I was right there with him because he waited until I got home to tell me.
“You’re the first person I’m telling this to,” Jeff started out of the office, as I came in the front door. Opening his arms wide, he declared. “I wanted to celebrate this with just us.”
Without knowing what we were celebrating, I jumped in for a hug. Once he had me in his arms, Jeff began to dance. I followed his lead, without any music, while he explained.
I smiled up at my love, as we took waltzing steps. Without any music, I got to thinking. Jeff took one look at my face and figured out I was contemplating.
“Now, now, now,” he admonished, with over-dramatic fake seriousness. “Don’t worry about any of this,” he confidently continued, clasping our hands over his heart. “I already talked to the guy and it’s a present for his Dad.”
“We made a list of stuff he’d like!” he beamed. “And, get this… he might even get his Dad to come in with him to get it each month. So, we might not need to do any mailing!”
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The same evening, between other commercials, I addressed the schedule for our up-coming weekend plans.
We were closely booked, which would require a bit of running. Over the past few weeks, we’d canceled a few social outings.
Among those, one was an overdue family visit. One was a much anticipated ‘meet the baby’ date. We’d previously discussed rescheduling the baby outing for Saturday evening or Sunday after church. When I asked Jeff if he’d been able to arrange it, he said he’d been thinking about that.
“Maybe, Saturday at lunch time, would be better,” he hemmed.
“We can’t, tomorrow.” I answered, quickly, shortly.
Jeff’s brow furrowed.
“We’re going to Lansing, tomorrow.” I reminded him.
“Well, huh.” Jeff scrunched his lips to the side, and puffed out one cheek. “Maybe, we can reschedule that for when I’m feelin’ better?”
“We’ve already canceled, twice.” I pointed out. “We can’t to cancel, again. Besides, the store is already covered for tomorrow.”
It wasn’t always easy to find someone willing to tend shop by themselves for an entire day. We’d already cancelled our scheduled helper’s shift, once, too.
“Mmm… maybe, you can go without me, this once…?”
“Absolutely not!” I popped back. “I’m not going without you.”
I missed my cousin’s wedding in Georgia, because Jeff simply couldn’t make the trip. The advice I received from a non-family member was that he was a big-boy and he could take care of himself for a weekend. I stood my ground that time, too, and refused.
I was terrified enough; always wondering each weekday, if that day would be the day. I can’t even imagine what would have become of me, if I had left Jeff for a weekend, and Jeff had left me forever that weekend.
I badgered my continued opinion. “You can sleep in the car on the way up, and back. It’s what you’d be doing at home, anyway.”
Jeff sat there, lips pressed, two cheeks puffed out.
I’m not even sure he was trying to come up with an argument, but in case he was, I enticed and cajoled. “You can pick the music.” I stated, with unarguable finality, “even if you’re gonna sleep through it all.”
That got a smile. “AC/DC, it is!” Jeff crowed.
“You realize, that’s not really napping music.” I conveyed; fair point.
“Yeaaahhhh,” he wheezed on purpose, followed by a sinister Mutly laugh.
“Maybe, I’ll bring Kid Rock, too. I can sleep through anythin’ and one of us has gotta stay awake for the drive!”
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