Stephanie would've been a happy woman today. Last night's election went the right way, with a layoff notice for Wisconsin's troglodyte Republican Governor, Scott Walker. Steph was well-informed, left-leaning, and never skipped voting, and she hated that schmuck.
I don't usually talk to the picture of Stephanie on the front of her urn, but this morning I gave her the good news. Walker is gone, and on the national level, Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives, so there's perhaps some hope for reigning in President Trump.
I'm allowed to talk politics without hesitation here on Steph's memorial website, because I know that Stephanie agreed absolutely with everything I've just said. The only difference is, she would've said it better.
Steph would've voted if she could have. She never missed voting in an election. Voting meant America to her. Among many other positive traits, she was a good citizen, and some of that rubbed off on me. I promise I'll never miss an election, long as I live, and I've added Stephanie's uncast absentee ballot to the Shrine.
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Stephanie had a watch that she liked. It was nothing ornate, just a cheap, old-style watch with an hour hand, a minute hand, and a second hand. What made it a little different was that the face had an interesting design, with clouds and a sun or moon at noon or midnight. She had that watch when we first met, but it eventually stopped working. She tried replacing the battery, but time still stood still. Yet she continued wearing it, occasionally glancing at her wrist, then frowning and asking me what time it was.
So we went watch-shopping at a department store, and she was delighted to find that the same watch design was still available. The band that had been fake leather was plastic instead, and the crystal that had been glass was plastic, but it was the same make and model. It wasn't expensive, but it also wasn't too well-made, and after a few years the new watch also stopped running. Again, she continued wearing it, even though it only told the right time twice every day.
By this point Stephanie was in a wheelchair, and a trip to the department store wasn't easy, so she sent me to the buy a new watch, but they no longer carried the exact watch she wanted. She looked for it on-line, to no avail. Finally, she asked me to find a replacement, and after checking several stores and duplicating her fruitless search on-line, I bought her a watch that was similar, but without the pretty design on the face. She was briefly disappointed, but wore that third watch for the rest of her life. I brought it home from the hospital, among her other effects.
As I was cleaning the bedroom at home and sorting through her possessions, I found the watch that had stopped. It was the original, with a leathery band and glass crystal. It wasn't forgotten at the back of a drawer or under dust deep in a box; it was on her nightstand, alongside things she needed daily — her Afrin, her Game of Thrones book, her mp3-player. Picture me scratching my head. It had stopped years ago, and I had assumed that it had been tossed in the trash. The replacement was a $19.99 watch, not a keepsake, and I had assumed that the original was, too. It hadn't told time for years, yet she kept it within arm's reach beside the bed.
I knew Stephanie so very, very well, but I only knew the things she told me. She never told me why the watch was special, and I never thought to ask. Perhaps it was a gift from someone? Perhaps she bought it during her travels to Russia or England, before we met? Perhaps there's a story more interesting than that? Clearly, though, it held some special significance for her, more than merely a watch that didn't tell time. I'll always wonder and never know what that significance might have been.
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Yesterday I noticed a hair of hers, stuck to the wall in the bathroom. Seems like such a trivial thing, but I couldn't stop staring at it. A single strand of hair. Stephanie was a bit of a shedder; she had long hair, and her combs were full of it, it clogged the bathtub drain and vacuum cleaner. For years I would find a long brunette hair on my work clothes or on a chair or in the car, and I'd think nothing of it. Her hair was just always there, expected, not even a nuisance, just a fact of life.
I wonder how long that one hair has been stuck to the wall. When did it come off her head? Maybe it's been months, maybe years. We're not total slobs, but if washing the bathroom walls was ever part of the ordinary cleaning schedule, it sure wasn't when I took over the chores.
One hair, twisted and stuck to the bathroom wall. I left it there. Eventually I suppose it'll be part of the Steph Shrine, but I'm not sure how to do that. Maybe it'll end up in a sandwich bag, tacked to the wall.
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When we were leaving the grocery store once, we saw a little girl wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt, and Steph thought it was adorable. So, of course, I surprised her with a Wonder Woman t-shirt, and she loved it and wore it frequently. Stephanie was, you see, a bit of a wonder woman herself, so the shirt was perfect, and it was a terrific look — Wonder Woman in a wheelchair! She also liked the Wonder Woman movie that came out last year, and took to wearing that t-shirt even more often.
Steph's Wonder Woman shirt is already on the wall as part of the Shrine, but I wanted a second one that I could wear myself, in Stephanie's memory. It was $20 or so, and it's fairly good quality cotton, and I'm wearing it as I type this.