HOME PLACE - Death leaves dirty work – mail duty


It began back in January.

Let me preface this by saying I still hate getting the mail. Dead guy was assigned (by choice) to the mail-bills-nasty-phone-calls duty at our house.

Over the past two years, the crud I have to mess with after the mail arrives has absolutely swamped me. Yes, I did plenty in my previous life, but my job was to handle the kid-related things.

It was a fair arrangement made completely unfair by death. Take, for example, mail such as I got from my insurance company in January.

I'll have to paraphrase, since I may have spilled coffee on the letter and maybe shredded it a bit with a sharp pencil. Accidentally.

Dear valued (insert name of company) client:

You are a bad, bad person. You have a trampoline in your yard. How do we know this? We spied, walking around your property when you weren't home, even though the trampoline is perfectly visible from two streets.

It doesn't matter that no kids have ever wandered into your yard for unauthorized jumping, either, or that your neighborhood prides itself on nurturing kids and relationships.

Yes, we see that you did notify us that the trampoline nearly blew away in the Storm of '08, and no, we didn't say a peep about it then. You're right.

Now, however, we are saying lock it up or it's outta there. If you don't obey us, we are likely to decide we "cannot meet your insurance needs," Sucker.


(insert name of company)

Here's what you need to know before we go any further. On the day my brother died, I bought that trampoline so my kids could jump through their fears, anger and sadness. So that the day would have a modicum of happiness. It's not just a toy at our house, but also a therapy tool.

The next morning I called up my local insurance agent, "Mark." Could I simply lock the arched opening in the safety net that surrounds the trampoline, I asked.

He made inquiries and returned with affirmation. I breathed a sigh of relief. As good as done.

Until I got home and remembered that a child had broken the zipper about 37 seconds after the trampoline went up. And that I, in sheer stupidity, had cut off the loose net door so no one - bird, squirrel, cat, toddler - would become entangled.

The youngest Hagars, hereby known as "the jumpers," and I trooped to the Big Orange Box on a frozen day when the very air was ice crystals rushing up our noses with every breath.

I talked over the issue with a young man who was very interested but not, ultimately, old enough to have experienced any real trampoline drama. He talked about cables and loop-lock thingies and grommets and whatnot.

I got the basic idea - put grommets around the perimeter of the door opening in the net wall, cut a slightly bigger piece of new netting and put matching grommets in that. Insert cable, lock the loops and - TA DA - happy insurer, happy insured.

Not so much.

The only grommet punchers I could find anywhere punched neat, brass-ringed - and small - holes.

I punched and punched, sewing up netting where I slipped and cursing my stiff fingers freezing in the winter wind.

At last I had grommets in, although not nearly as nicely-placed as my initial vision called for.

Then I could thread the heavy-duty cable through, right?


The cable, once it was looped at the end for locking, could no more fit through those grommets than a camel through the eye of … stop me if you've heard that one.

I tried thinking of every solution, including taking the reciprocating saw to the whole thing. I cried a little bit, blaming Dave for saving the stupid trampoline in that massive wind storm, instead of letting it sail off the hill.

We returned the cable-end cinching doohickeys. No point taking back the cable, which had been custom cut, naturally. And came home with brass chain and a padlock.

Padlock would not fit through the tiny loops of chain.

Back again.

"Lord," I shouted, "is there a reason you want me at Big Orange Box this many times? Am I supposed to meet someone interesting in the padlock section?"

Turned out the only place in town with a small enough padlock to shove through the little links was at my hometown hardware store.

Back home, I dutifully threaded the floppy, frosty chain, locked the lock and put the keys on my personal ring of keys.

And that has been that. The trampoline that brought joy to my daughters now seems like too much of a liability to unlock and relock. The exercise they got by literal leaps and bounds is not getting got. If we bought our health insurance through (insert company name), those people would not be happy there's a whole lotta not jumpin' going on.

So the trampoline is safe from interlopers, from miscreant children who might jump illegally. My insurance company is safe from unfortunate claims. My daughters are safe from having any bouncy fun. No squeals of unsafe delight are coming from our backyard.

We're so very safe.


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