We’ve lived in our town for thirteen years.  I drive the same road back and forth to the town where I normally grocery shop.  I pass by landmarks that I notice are there, but don’t really pay attention to all that much.  So when it got time to tell the hospice who I chose for a funeral home when the time came, I just gave the name of the funeral home I’ve passed by for years.  I never really thought to go on Yelp for a funeral home review!  So the day Tony died, the hospice people were unable to get in touch with someone at the funeral home, so they chose a backup, in the town where our grocery store is, about 15 minutes from the house.

The next day I get a call from a very nice man.  He explains that he is the funeral director of the place where I picked, but unfortunately, it’s out of business and the lot, building and business have been for sale for years, and that he was mostly retired and living in a far southwest suburb of Chicago.  He apologized profusely, but he highly recommended the funeral home that kept Tony overnight, so I just went with that.  It was a wonderful decision.

Davenport Funeral Home was wonderful every step of the way.   Everything was explained perfectly, always courteous and soft spoken and kind.   Hannah stayed home and got her crafty pants on a couple days before the Memorial.  She made the photo montage boards, and she had the best idea of a Memory Tree.  She had twigs in a vase and had blank note cards that you could write a memory on about Tony, and then hang it on the tree.

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The blown up pictures?  Hannah got done at Walgreen’s on their same day service.  The large one is on canvas with a black wooden frame, and the two smaller ones were actually put on wood – it was seamless – the smaller ones were only $20 each!  We were super impressed with the quality of those pictures.

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Do you see that spiral notebook with AOL.com email on top?  That was Tony’s first email to me.  In fact, that whole spiral bound notebooks is the emails we sent back and forth from each other from May 25, 2000 through October 17, 2000.  I printed them all out when I left the law firm I was at.  I had them in a desk drawer in the basement, and Hannah got them spiral bound for me.

First email to me:  May 25, 2000:

I ready your bio on love@aol.com and I wanted to say hi.

I am a divorced guy living in Barrington Hills.  I spend most weekends with my 10 year old son, so I have had trouble dating.  I wouldn’t want to change or take anytime from my son, but it seems most people I date don’t understand that.

I am Italian but proudly say I have two separated eye brows and no back hair (northern Italian), and don’t act like a jerk around women.  I own a computer consulting company, and really enjoy my work.  My office is junky but homey!

I have all my hair and teeth, but I broke a lot of them when I played football (teeth, but just some chips – I don’t look like Leon Spinks).  I don’t have a beard, I used to but once I shaved it everyone said “wow, that looks better” and I never grew it back.

I have a bio thingy on here if you want to check it out.  I have tried to get my pictures on there but it never seems to work.  If you are interested, I will send you a picture, but I understand if you are not.

I wish you luck!


The last entry I have printed out is from October 17, 2000.  The Subject line: Ramblings.

I am leaving now for the office, but before I go I just wanted to tell you this.  I can’t ever remember being this happy.  I may not get giddy like you but I am very happy.  It’s like I am satisfied, and this is very unusual for me.  All I want is you, day and night, night and day.

I love you, and want you always.  Thank you for that!


Yep, tears are streaming down my face as I retype those emails.  But today, right here and now, they are happy tears.  It was the first time Tony felt unconditional love in his life, and he reminded me over and over these last 14 years that he appreciated that more than I would ever know.

The Memorial night went way too fast, I don’t think I spent as much time with people as I should have.  I didn’t cry at all during the Memorial – that’s how I work.  I have to be strong for everyone around me, and in solitude I cry.  A lot.  And I know as the days go by, the tears won’t be so ready to fall from my eyes, but until then, I am used to the feel of tears lingering on my face.

The only time I cried that night was when I said goodbye to his parents.  They were leaving the next morning to go back to Florida, and as I hugged them both, I whispered into their ears “I tried to take care of him as best I could.”  And they know that.

My Mom gave Tony a signed Bears helmet by The Fridge #72 of the 1985 Chicago Bears Superbowl team, and we incorporated that into one of the flower arrangements.

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The alter had a Wheaties Box that my Mom also gave Tony, that has pitcher Mark Buehrle of the 2005 White Sox on the box:

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My step-son Joe and his wife flew in the morning of the Memorial.  They actually got to the funeral home before I did.  When Joe came out to meet me and help carry stuff in, he told me he had two surprises for me.  Huh.  I walked in, gave his wife a hug and he handed me a bottle of Rudy’s BBQ sauce.  Yum!  And then, a young woman who was sitting in a high back chair facing the alter, stood up, turned around, and I knew that was my second surprise.

My daugher in law Lizz has a best friend Natalie.  Over the past year or so, Natalie and I have become online buddies – I literally consider her like a daughter.  She reads my blog every day, we send messages back and forth.  Tony and I have sent her snap chats from the back yard.  It just meant so much to me that she flew in from Dallas!  She hugged me and said “I puffy heart you.”  And I said “I puffy heart you too.”

And before I knew it, we were packing my car with tons of flowers, all Tony’s pictures, etc.  My Mom, Hannah and Jacob helped me carry stuff into the house, and by 10:30 that night, I was all alone in my quiet house.

I had two visitors Saturday morning, but I’ll talk about that in another post.  All I know is that it was so appreciated that these girls came out to see me – in my ratty ass shirt, with no bra, hair not brushed.  I love having blog friends within driving distance of my house!

Before I knew it, Natalie, my new in real life friend, sent me a snap chat:  Isn’t she too cute?!

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And before I knew it, I jumped in the shower and was headed downtown with Joe, his wife Lizz, Natalie and Lizz’s brother who is a sophomore in high school and Joe’s half brother who is in 8th grade.

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We started out at Millennium Park, after a good 15 minute walk in the wrong direction – I thought we had parked in a different parking garage, but we got to see some interesting things.  Natalie, who had never even seen ice before, was thrilled to be in Chicago!

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After a while, we declared it “cocktail time!”  We went to my old stomping grounds (many, many moons ago) Miller’s Pub.

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The kids are all into Uber and Lyft, so getting around the city not using a cab was super easy.  We headed to Portillo’s so Natalie could have an Italian beef.  Of course, more cocktails were to be had.  Mine this time was Blue Moon.  We toasted to Tony!  And um, I did eat that whole fricken beef – hot giardiniera and “wet” bread is the only way to go.

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On the drive home Joe asked if we could stop by a restaurant to see if his buddy was working.  Turns out he was, so we got a table, got a round of drinks and just chatted for a while.  It was then that Joe said to me “Biz, when was the last time you did a shot?”  Um, that would be about 10 years ago, and it was at an outdoor ski jump event in Fox River Grove and I did a shot of Jaegermeister to warm up.  Yep, back in the day that was my shot of choice!  Um, let’s just say I “sipped” the Grey Goose, but it was an homage to Tony.

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All of a sudden the lights dimmed, and I heard this music start very faintly, and grow louder and louder.  I have to admit that the median age of this restaurant was about 68 years old that particular night.  And before I knew it. . . Elvis was in the room!

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Now if Elvis were still alive, he’d be 79 years old, and up close, I am pretty sure this singer was right up there with that age.  But the crowd loved him.  He sang “I’ll have a Blue Christmas” which started to get me teary, but I didn’t cry.  Natalie was saying “this is the weirdest day of my life!  First I see ice, then Chicago, and now Elvis!”  I do puffy heart that girl.

So Sunday was somewhat back to “normal.”  Whatever my normal ends up being.  I had a shit ton of laundry to do.  I did a loose meal plan using up all the leftovers in my fridge.  It was the first Sunday in as long as I can remember that I haven’t heard football in the background and Tony yelling at the t.v.:  “why the fuck are you going up the middle – that hasn’t worked all day!”

It was. . .weird.