Thanks, everyone, who’s commented on the last few blog posts. As Brad pointed out, this is cathartic for me to do this storytelling, and will help down the road when I’m wanting to revisit. Some nice comments on the writing (awwww! thank you!) and several comments on how brave I am to put this out there (which makes me wonder if brave really means stupid). Of course, I’m not putting it all out there, it’s crafted somewhat and no one wants 100%, trust me. But I’ve been blogging for a long time now and figured out years ago that while there’s a nod to aiming for an audience in my head, I’m not trying to write in a marketable fashion. This is mostly for me and my friends, and just because I put it out there, doesn’t mean anyone has to read it.
I absolutely intend to keep going with the funeral week narration, but I thought I’d sidestep and talk a little about what’s going on now. As I posted on FB, once Dad went home, I was officially Alone in My Home, starting the new normal. I went back to work, working from home. Everyone at the office has been sweet as pie, there’s not a lot panicky going on right now in my job, which is good because I am not near 100% yet, very scattershot in concentration. My boss and I had our regular Tuesday 1-on-1, where we mostly talked about C’s death and the funeral and stuff… but I also asked about our upcoming mid-year evaluations and who would do it (I now have a new supervisor, a layer in between me and my boss) and he basically said, “I’ll do it and he’ll help, but it will be quick because your performance is excellent.”. Oh. OH! Well, that’s nice to hear.
Did I mention recently how terrific my organization is? In general, I love my job, but the culture is so supportive. I got a gift basket from the organization, two of my teams sent flowers, and many people have reached out with condolences, including our president. That’s true of Charles’s as well – the head of his organization called me with his condolences (Him: “I was just on a meeting with Charles on Friday!” Me: “I know, right?”) Flowers from them as well, and co-workers at the viewing at the funeral. I had to snicker internally with one co-worker gushing at me how kind and helpful Charles always was with them, because I was choosing not to say, “Yes, and every time he hung up with you, he cursed a blue streak for five minutes because you drove him up the fucking wall.” Co-worker Gerard sent me an email telling me the organization actually had a zoom memorial for Charles, and over 60 people attended. They really loved him there, as who wouldn’t?
I spent the first part of the week resetting the apartment to ‘normal’, or ‘the new normal’, as I’ve now taken over the master bathroom and moved out of the central bathroom. I was trying to organize toiletries over the weekend (some stuff Charles used I have no use for and tossed, others I might want, and still others I may hang onto in case someone else wants it) and my father went off on a rant about how there were a dozen bars of fancy soap in the guest room medicine cabinet and guests would ever use all that soap. And I smiled and said, “Dad, first of all, those soaps were a Christmas gift from the man I love who knows I like fancy soaps, and second, those aren’t for guests, they’re mine, I just haven’t had a chance to move them out of (what used to be) my bathroom yet.” I was just amused that he had such a strong opinion about that (I love my dad).
I’d supposed to be off this week, visiting Dad and Sam, but I cancelled that. But my boss stressed over and over again, take some more time off, take what you need, and made a suggestion that made a ton of sense – just take afternoons off here and there, to make all those calls I need to make during business hours. So I took Wednesday afternoon off to go pick up the death certificates from the funeral home and then start the phone call process. (Fun fact: my organization closes early on Fridays during the summer. It used to be at 3:00 pm, but this year, we’re actually getting an entire half day! So that’s excellent timing for me, I can use that free half-day for what I’m calling ‘Charles Keiser Inc.’.)
Started making calls. Could not get through to Social Security. Went to the one credit bureau that accepts uploaded death certificates, but then the actual upload page wouldn’t accept the file no matter what size or format I put it in. Well, eff that, I’ll just mail one. (I only have notify one of the three, the other two will get notified from the first.) Called a life insurance company – turns out that the policy number I was looking at from the sheet in my hand was not beneficiaried to me (what!?) but there were two other policies that were. So they’ll be sending me paperwork and also to the other beneficiaries (our nieces, I’m assuming).
Reached out to Spectrum to change our account over to me, but also to get them to get me a new password for C’s email account. That happened with no problem – haven’t had a chance to do it yet, but I can now review his emails to see what other bills and stuff I need to handle, and also notify anyone he was corresponding with that I don’t already know about. I’ll also be able to reset passwords on other online accounts, which will be really helpful. And did much the same with the AT&T accounts for the cell phones. I’d already guessed correctly at his iphone password, so I could get into his phone, but he didn’t actually use his phone for much of anything. I guess I need to look through his contacts and texts for the same reason – what accounts are trying to talk to him? What people need to be notified? And at my leisure, look at our cell phone contract. I figure I’ll let his number expire at the end of the contract, and in the meantime forward the number to my phone or something. No rush, I can just check his phone for messages every few days. He really didn’t use his phone much. (Minor rant – his Iphone is newer and nicer than mine, and doesn’t have a home button, and I get confused every time I use it. I need to carve out ten minutes to review the basics of how to use the UI.)
So I’m now at a point where I’ve developed systems (My “getting things done” heart loves this) so every new account I find or gift or card I receive goes on a spreadsheet, to track what needs to happen. (for cards, I want to grab the address for contacts) Also, as I sort out the finances, keep separate ‘buckets’ for different funds and track which funds went into or out of the ‘wrong bucket’ so that can be corrected later. Like, I’ll want to pay his credit card bill out of the household account for now, but it should really come from his personal checking account, which I don’t have access to yet, so I’ll balance that out later.
(I have also contacted my estate lawyer about the will, so that’s in progress, and have purchased a Dummies book about being an executor.)
So I’m happy and not-panicky about that stuff, especially once I’m pretty sure I’ve identified the bills that need to be paid, and will just build and work the system. The organizational part of me is itching to get this stuff properly organized my way, but there’s not a rush, just continuous nibbling on it.
And the evenings are long and weird. We had a very structured way we spent weekday evenings, and it was terrific and worked great for us, but there isn’t a lot of reason to hold onto that slavishly. I’m finding I’m not yet able to concentrate on or enjoy reading (normally, I read for hours a day) or watching episodic TV (except one episode a day of Ted Lasso, which has been a balm. Sadly, I only have one left.). So I’ve been throwing dinner together and watching the news (although that in itself is awful) and surfing the net or knitting, and often chatting with whoever in my family or friend circle has been kind enough to reach out that night.
My initial goal had been to work through the fridge to make sure that everything that was a meal got eaten before it went bad, but last night I got to start on what’s in the freezer. Allison had inventoried and I saw there were empanadas in there, so I pulled those out during the day to defrost. I got kind of fancy – looked up how to cook them, and they involve an egg wash, and I actually did the egg wash. (I should have cooked them longer so they got crispier, and used a parchment sheet on the baking sheet, but they came out OK for a first try.) I just nuked some frozen green beans, but with butter and dill. And put out three dipping sauces for the empanadas, since I had no chimichurri. (the barbecue sauce was the best one, and I’ll probably eat the rest of the empanadas tonight and just use that) Eventually I’ll start cooking for real, but we have enough food in the freezer and pantry that I can just plan meals around that for quite a while. Still debating whether to find a home for the frozen chicken bones and cheese rinds, or actually try making stock from them. Seems like a big fuss, but also, they’re not taking up a ton of room in the freezer, so I guess I can let them sit for now.
Oh, also, anyone want a house plant? (Susan: what kind of plant is it? Eric: I don’t know, it’s a plant.) Current plan is to water it when I remember until it either dies or someone takes it off my hands.
And yes, I do still worry that I’m coming across as overly perky or way too together for someone who just lost the love of his life. Oh, let me assure you, it’s all a facade. There are definitely signs of crazy under the surface. For instance, my kitchen counter had a big heap of snacky things from the gift baskets, but my cleaning lady was coming, and I was thinking “I’ll put them away in the maid’s room for now so she can clean the kitchen, and then I’ll put them on the counter when she’s done.” And immediately starting singing, to the tune of “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain”, ♫ Yes, I’ll put them on the counter when she’s doooonne, yes I’ll put them on the counter when she’s doooone…
Yeah, so that was a thing that happened. Another mental conversation with myself.
I wonder what Charles would want to do about that?
Charles doesn’t live here any more.
Charles doesn’t live anywhere any more.
Charles has been… (um…) …encrypted.
So yes, all is not well under the hood.
I think next week, I’m going to reach out to a grief counselor. That seems the right thing to do. But, you know, I’m fine. Mostly.