We were a bit older than the pups on Wall Street. We had children and there were a few grey hairs between us though Murray sported his with charming grace. He once lost his wallet in the airport on a cross-country, multi-city, investor-seeking road trip. We did a lot of that together. Road trips, not losing wallets. Murray didn’t seem the least perturbed by the distraction, taking it in stride that he would not be able to board the next flight without an ID. It was pre-911 but there was security. Beth and I were not so calm.
Beth was the sales rep, Murray was her research analyst who was writing good reviews of my company. I was along to bring credibility. The company story involved our plan to provide returns to stockholders, with a little patience. It wasn’t an easy story, the technology was a bit ahead of its time, and the management team was busy elsewhere, but we were a likable trio. We jumped flights, worked our way through hectic days of 8 to 12 meetings then found a hotel, some dinner and a bottle of wine to share. The next morning we did it all over again. The schedule was aided by rented limousines with patient drivers who saw us through the cities and folks back in the office who scouted the geography and breaking news. Between appointments we huddled in the dark cars, attempting to make calls back to our home offices without tipping our hands on confidential issues.
This meant personal data was open for discussion. No one could accuse us of trading insider information if we were talking about ourselves. Our expense accounts were enormous but still too small to buy us what we really wanted, more time with our families.
Beth was raising her daughters alone. She was smart, so smart she scared me. I always feared she would discover I had no formal training, no right to be in this fast-paced world. I watched the respect those young brokers had for her, as she conducted our meetings, and realized it wouldn’t matter what she was talking about, she exuded confidence. It didn’t matter that she was a woman, older than them, or from the heartland of this country; she commanded them with her style.
Texas made sense. It was mild enough to help her keep her Lupus under control and centrally located with good air service to allow her make Monday morning appointments in New York, get to Chicago Tuesday and pass through the West on her way home at the end of the week. She was squarely rooted in the home she had built for her girls and herself.
It has been a week since her funeral. I didn’t attend, though I took a moment of silence for her and I when I knew she was being celebrated by family and friends. She left too soon and in the end we spoke too infrequently.
Tonight, I looked down as I casually placed a serving spoon into the ceramic dish that has graced my stove for years. It is chipped and has lost much of the original pattern. The Texas longhorn is barely visible, but I have never given it up. A joke-house gift from Beth when she visited the farm one Fall many years ago, it is part of the pattern of my life, just she always will be. We shared more than June 16 as our date of birth…