I just received a notice from the Fictitious Business Name Renewal Center. Apparently Phil's fictitious business name will expire if he doesn't pay the $125 fee before September 28, 2009. Somehow I don't think the check will arrive in time. Seems this company has no record of Phil's death. The fact that there could be any organization left that I haven't called, faxed, e-mailed, sent a letter, filled out a form, or sent yet another death certificate confirming that my husband is indeed dead, is truly amazing.
In those first few months after Phil's death I lost count of the number of phones calls I made to switch the various services to my name. The phone company required that I shut off my phone service, fill out a new contract, and then reestablish service. I questioned the service rep, through my tears, asking why couldn't someone just switch the service to my name...the address wasn't changing, the phone number wasn't changing, and my name was on the account! Unfortunately, I was told, that is not phone company policy. Changing the phone bill led to the need to alter the cable service, which could only be done if I could be home between the hours of 10 AM and 6 PM on my assigned day. Luckily the electric service was set up in my name, and when the time came to go through the process with the Gas Company, I gave up and decided that the bill could just continue to come to the house in Phil's name. Funny that four years later I still get a jolt every time that particular bill arrives.
When envelopes addressed to Phillip Hernandez show up in the mailbox I take a moment to steel myself before viewing the contents. There have been more than a few emotional bombs delivered by the US Postal Service, and I have learned to be wary when opening Phil's mail. Every once in awhile I even feel a bit guilty...like a peeping tom or an overbearing wife. Then of course the truth smacks me in the head, and I remember that he isn't coming home. And if I don't open his mail, no one will. Another stark fact that has become a part of my everyday life.
Mail collection does sometimes bring a smile to my face. Phil loved to put his name in every random drawing possible. You know...win a car, a gym membership, free gas for a year, a new refrigerator...he used to make me crazy as he dutifully filled in our address on each and every postcard. He always used our correct address, but chose a different name for himself each time he entered a drawing. As a result, I am still getting mail for all of the following men: Pepe Hernandez, Wilbur Hernandez, Peter Hernandez, Thornton Hernandez, Giuseppe Hernandez, Wyatt Hernandez, and Booger Hernandez. I would have never guessed that his infuriating habit of freely supplying our address to marketing lists everywhere would someday deliver memories of his big smile right to my mailbox.