Serendipity (Unclaimed Property II)

March 31, 2006

We have “Caller ID” on our house phone line. Before you pick up the receiver, you can tell if you’re about to talk to someone you’re happy to hear from or someone you might be trying to avoid. This is, in my opinion, an improvement over letting the answering machine take the call and interrupting when you determine that you do, indeed, want to talk to this person.

When the phone rang this afternoon I glanced at the ID panel. Most of the calls these days are for Ron, who flies radio-controlled airplanes at a nearby field. I know all of his buddies’ names, and I’ll just yell out who it is and let Ron pick it up. But today it might also have been Lynn, who bashed her knee against the cage at field hockey practice at 7:00 this morning (preparing for two off-season tournaments next weekend). She went into mild shock and at noon was still in the infirmary waiting for a determination to be made about how to proceed. That one I’d take.

The name on the screen was that of a man I saw briefly in January for the first time in about thirty-five years. We fell into conversation at a celebration of the centennial of the Catholic parish where I grew up. He’s the present husband of the woman who was our neighbor when I was in grade school. She and my parents became close friends. In my memory, her first husband’s death and that of Marilyn Monroe the summer I was fifteen are all bound up together. I’ve been reading Alice McDermott’s That Night, and the setting and tone of that work, recalling a similar summer, has taken me back to the front stoops of Fifth Street, when my friends and I read movie magazines into the twilight, eavesdropped on our parents’ conversations, walked up to Deibler’s for five-cent cokes (six cents for one with a shot of lemon), and thought about breaking into the ramshackle structure we called the haunted house.

Mr. L. was calling about the unclaimed property notice I wrote about yesterday. Somewhere he’d seen a print listing of all the names. “Your mother’s name is there,” he said. “It’s spelled wrong.”

I went back into the database, entered the mangled spelling Mr. L. had given me, and sure enough, there was my mother’s name (one letter off), indicating that the Commonwealth is holding uncashed checks made out to the estate (or perhaps issued by the estate) with a value greater than $100, apparently from 1996.

This puzzles me greatly. I can’t figure out what this might be. I was the administrator of the estate, and my records indicate that all the checks I wrote were cashed. Maybe I paid somebody too much and they sent me a refund, but because the name was spelled wrong it never got delivered.

In any case, I have the paperwork for claiming the property. This means another trip to a notary. You can bet I’m finding a different one this time!

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margaretdeangelis [at] gmail [dot] com (replace the brackets with @ and a period)

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