Empty Reminders

Dearest Rachel –

It doesn’t really follow to mourn a place you never patronized, but we always agreed it was said to see a business leave the area, regardless. Every empty restaurant, even one that we never got around to visiting, is still a blight on the landscape for sitting vacant. And let’s not get started on the shopping malls with abandoned anchors – you might recall that last Christmas we spent with both your parents, when we stopped at the Carl Sandburg Mall in Galesburg on our way down there. The K-Mart was scheduled to close in less than a month, and we swept through the place, snapping up bargains (including a pair of dress shoes you offered to your folks to give me as a present).

After that little spree, we wandered into the attached complex, which had already lost its Bergner’s and Sears, and their Penney’s was barely hanging on. Needless to say, the smaller shops in the interior weren’t doing much better – although there was one antiques / secondhand shop that was so much larger than you’d think it had any right to be in the middle of the mall – imagine the rent on a space like that had it been at the old Randhurst or Woodfield up here. But really, that whole mall had nothing but space; the food court was all but dead, and if a third of the storefronts were occupied and functioning, I’d consider that an over-estimate on my part. It was really a sorry sight to see, and if that was what you envisioned as a child when someone spoke of a shopping mall (it being the closest one to your hometown – and even then, it was what, some 45 minutes drive away from you?), I have to feel badly for you.

I think the mall was entirely closed down by the time I drove downstate with you and Daniel the next time. I remember stopping at the Target across the perimeter drive for something, and then being curious about how the place was doing. We drove over into a more or less empty parking lot – only to find the entrances completely locked. Everything was closed down. The mall was just… gone.

And to think, your folks used to think that places like that, along with the Walmarts and Targets on the fringes of the city, would destroy the downtowns.

Which brings me to a sight I saw yesterday, after leaving the Costco in the afternoon. I’d just been shopping for a few possibilities for dinner, what with the girls panning to come over and all. Found a few things, but also managed to get in touch with both of them as I wandered the aisles, and determined that I might as well not have bothered – we would be going out to eat instead. This was Daniel‘s idea, actually – the other day, when I suggested going out to the Station, he demurred, saying “that’s a place for sharing with others, like when we’re eating with the girls.”

And you know something? I couldn’t argue with him. So last night, I posed his suggestion, and they were both agreeable – although they both were concerned as to whether or not Daniel would be let in, given his recent defiance. I confess that I responded with some nonchalance, figuring that if they let him into a supermarket, he shouldn’t have a problem the restaurant, where you pretty much have to have your mask off in order to eat in the first place. And failing that, there would always be the supplies that I bought at Costco.

Which brings me back to the sight I saw yesterday upon leaving the place:

To be fair, you might not be able to read the shadows left behind by the channel lettering that’s been taken down, so I’ll fill you in: it seems that the Maurices that we noted had moved into Randhurst Village is gone – and apparently, has been gone for some time.

Some might ask why this would concern me; after all, this isn’t a place that I would patronize, focusing on women’s fashion and all that. But I’d never heard of the place until I met you, and visited you down in Macomb. There was a Maurices in the town square, and even as Jan and I went through the house, we found several pairs of shoes in boxes indicating they had been bought there. So the place has been associated with you from the moment I was aware of its existence.

The outlet in the town square closed up quite some time ago, and if my memory serves me correctly, in its place is a local art gallery. We tried to donate a number of your parents art pieces to the place; I think they were glad to have them, and we promised to bring them more from their collection, but I don’t recall if we completed that task. I don’t think we determined that we had made our last trip down to Macomb at the time you met your fate. But in any event, this was my sole association with Maurices – I almost assumed that it was a local business, until seeing it crop up in Randhurst Village a few years ago. I think I was the one who pointed it out to you, rather than the other way around. But you never went there, not that I consider that a criticism. I guess it just wasn’t your style anymore.

So I probably shouldn’t shed any tears upon its demise. I’m guessing that it has several outlets even in the area to this day, so the company, as a whole, is probably still surviving. It’s just one more reminder about how time marches on, and the things that remind me of you dry up and blow away, just as much as some of my memories of you tend to do. It’s a concern of mine that I can’t shake.

Anyway, you take care of yourself, and remember that I love you.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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