Shipping and Handling

I received a package the other day. I often get packages at home because I do a lot of online shopping. Yes, I love buying stuff, but I’m really not big on malls. I can’t say that I enjoy walking around for hours, going from store to store, trying on countless outfits, just to leave with a belt & a couple of perfume samples. And, I definitely don’t want to waste the little free time I have, there. For me, it’s worth the shipping & handling.

I saw the package on the front lawn on my way out that morning. It was covered in dew, must have been there since yesterday. I tossed it in the house, wondering what it could be, since I hadn’t ordered anything, but I didn’t have time to check.

When I came home that night, there was another, larger package by the door.


I brought them both into the kitchen.

Sure enough the packages were addressed to someone else—Jane*, the lady who used to own my house.

*(The names have been changed to protect the innocent, and by innocent, I mean the children.)

My husband and I only met her once, on the day of the closing; by then we had come to a few conclusions about her. But, we met her husband, or rather ex-husband, when we saw the house for the second time.

His realtor mentioned how he was looking better, and filling out again.

We learned that John had survived a battle with cancer the year before.

John showed us through the house. One of the walls of the family room was a showcase of his daughters’ awards and accolades over the years for volleyball and softball. There were numerous school pictures, and their graduation pictures.

There were no “family” pictures.

The rest of the house seemed pretty bare.The master bedroom, although huge, looked more like the maid’s quarters: a small bed, 1 nightstand, 1 lamp. No decorative frames, furry rugs, floor mirrors, or big fancy comforters. Just some drabby old sheets that seemed to be collecting dust. Throughout the house we noticed grime in the corners of the bathrooms, behind doors, and so on. Someone was trying to keep up appearances, but barely.

It didn’t seem like anyone had been doing much living there for a while now.

He showed us the patio area,”This is a great party house. The pool is heated. Nice big yard. The cabana has a bathroom and a shower; perfect for entertaining.”

John mentioned that his daughters’ friends were always at the house because the school was so close by. “Our daughter goes to school down the street,” we added.

“That’s great! We loved having all their friends over, to enjoy the pool and the lake. We’d barbecue. Those were great times,” he said staring off towards the lake.

“I live with my parents now, and my youngest daughter,” he added and turned back towards the house.

Jane’s number was listed on the package just above her name and my home address. I decided I’d give “the bitch” a call to let her know about her packages.

“The Bitch” seems like a strong name for a woman we barely knew… Seems.

The day of the closing, she brought her new husband along, a man she had conveniently met at the very school her daughters and his son had attended. We wondered, “Did they meet before he got cancer or after? Before the divorce finalized or after?” Needless to say, she wasn’t looking good in our book.

Jane had inadvertently left behind a drawer full of lingerie in the built-in in the closet. After we moved in, I started cleaning out the drawer and noticed some greeting cards and letters. Don’t get snooty, OF COURSE, I opened them. There were Christmas and birthday cards from her now husband, dating back 3 or 4 years.

One letter read, “I wish we could already be together this New Years. You’ve brought so much happiness to my life. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you…”

Sounds sweet enough, except she was still living with the father of her children at the time.

Despite what I may have thought about her marital misbehavior, Jane was very sweet and appreciative when I called to let her know about the packages. She said her daughter would drop by the next morning to pick them up.

I said I’d leave them by the door, but the next morning just as I was heading out, a black honda civic was parked halfway in the gate, motor running. It was her daughter. The driveway was clear, but she seemed to hesitate to pull up all the way. She stared in my direction under the carport, not at me so much as at the large wood front doors.

She saw me then, walking out with the packages, and got out of the car.

“Good Morning. These are the packages that came for your mom.” I said, handing them over. She didn’t say a word, or couldn’t.

She finally smiled and nodded, taking them from me, but staring through the open doorway into the house behind me.

In the mornings, the sun shines through the many windows and doors of the living room. It’s the main area just as you walk into the house—bright and crisp and hopeful. It sold the house to me. The clean light cheers up the whole house and mood…well, most of the time.

The exchange took only seconds, but felt longer. Her eyes wondering,”When did this stop being my home?”

She returned to her car. I pretended I had forgotten something and went back inside to wait until she was gone. She sat in the car for a few minutes before finally driving off.

That was some expensive shipping and handling, I thought sadly.

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