My Visit With Mrs. Reinkemeyer


image source:

Mr. and Mrs. Reinkemeyer lived across the street from us.  A couple in their mid-80’s, they were in terrific health and were always outside doing something in their yard.

My wife and I moved into our house in late 2006.  Mr. and Mrs. Reinkemeyer were quick to welcome us to the neighborhood.  Mr. Reinkemeyer retired in 1992 from the same organization where I was working in Hannibal.   Mr. Reinkemeyer had had quite the positive reputation, often referred to as being “a real prince of a gentleman.”  This assessment was quite accurate.

Mrs. Reinkemeyer had been the secretary at the public school some distance outside of town.  A gentleman I worked with said she was the only woman who ever scared him as he was growing up.  Mrs. Reinkemeyer was not mean; she simply didn’t tolerate any degree of foolishness.


image source:

About a year after we moved in, Mr. and Mrs. Reinkemeyer purchased a new ’08 Lincoln Town Car.  The only time it sat outside was when Mr. Reinkemeyer was washing it.  He also owned a ’99 Ford Ranger that was as immaculate as the Lincoln and their house.

Yet as time never fails to do, it caught up with Mr. and Mrs. Reinkemeyer.  In the summer of 2010, Mrs. Reinkemeyer fell down the stairs in their home and broke her arm quite severely.  Soon thereafter, Mr. Reinkemeyer developed pneumonia while being treated for a bad gall bladder.  He was then placed on oxygen.

As Mr. and Mrs. Reinkemeyer had a split-foyer house, the constant need to navigate steps was taking a toll.  In early 2011, Mr. and Mrs. Reinkemeyer placed their house up for sale and moved to a new, single story condominium.

At this point in time I was frequently checking on them due to their ailments but under the pretense of keeping Mr. Reinkemeyer abreast of the downsizing where I worked.  As he had hired many of the people who worked there, he still had a vested interest in what was taking place.

One day during that time period they had a moving sale.  When moving the loveseat I had purchased from them, I asked if the pillows went with it.  Mrs. Reinkemeyer said, “you can have whatever you see; it’s just that much less I have to move.”

“Okay,” I stated.  Pause.  “Mrs. Reinkemeyer, here’s the title for your Lincoln.  Where are the keys?”

“Jason Shafer, you are so full of yourself,” Mrs. Reinkemeyer laughed.  “You almost had me on that one.”


image source:

In August of 2011, Mr. and Mrs. Reinkemeyer had moved and were no longer neighbors to me and my wife.  I had helped Mr. Reinkemeyer move the last few odds and ends to their new place a few blocks away.  When we learned in September of 2011 that my skills and talents were needed elsewhere, Mr. Reinkemeyer gave me a Ford Ranger full of moving boxes.

Soon after that Mr. Reinkemeyer fell ill.  He died in December of 2011.  The day he gave me the boxes was the last time I saw him alive.  I attended his visitation that cold, dark December evening and was sad that a good man had passed away.

Life has an interesting way of keeping one humble at times.  As fate, circumstance, and the local real estate market in a town of 17,000 would happen, my house has been for sale since October of 2011.  With having to check on the house with some degree of frequency, I went back to Hannibal earlier this week.  Realizing I had not seen Mrs. Reinkemeyer in some time, I dropped by unannounced to see how she was doing.

“Jason Shafer!  Shame on you.  You caught me in my nightgown.”

“That’s okay, Mrs. Reinkemeyer, it happens to all of us.”  I just didn’t mention I had seen her in her nightgown countless times when she would inspect the weather from her front door.

As we went in and sat down, we caught up on the variety of events that had been going on.  One she told me did not surprise me in the least.

2012 fusion exterior

image source:

“Well, Jason, did you know I swapped off the Lincoln?  I got myself a Ford Fusion.”

“No, Mrs. Reinkemeyer, I did not know that.  What color did you get?” I asked.

“Well, you come tell me what color it is,” Mrs. Reinkemeyer said as she got up and shuffled to the garage.  As we got to the garage, she opened the overhead door.  She was still in her nightgown.

2012-Fusion interior

image source:

“Dang, Mrs. Reinkemeyer, you got a good one.  I do like this metallic black,” I said admiringly.  And, the 2012 Ford Fusion is my favorite of them all; the 2013 models look too much like a slightly bloated Focus.  Mrs. Reinkemeyer’s Fusion has more options and equipment than I have ever seen on a Fusion.  It is loaded.

“Yeah, I like it.  I never did like that Lincoln – it was too big and you have to park the stupid thing somewhere.  I sold Raymond’s Ford pickup, too.  My son didn’t want it, so I just gave him the money.  It was a ’99 and only had 42,000 miles on it.  I sold it in less than a day.

“Open the door and sit down.  The Ford dealer here in town were happy to see me in that Lincoln,” Mrs. Reinkemeyer offered.

“Mrs. Reinkemeyer, your Lincoln couldn’t have had too many miles on it – that day I backed it out of the garage for you, it was remarkably low.  Why, I bet the dealer owed you money,” I was probing.

“That Lincoln had 21,000 miles on it.  Lincoln’s do depreciate, you know.  But let’s just say my checkbook never saw the light of day and nobody expects old women to negotiate.  A dealer will work with you if they are sufficiently motivated,” Mrs. Reinkemeyer stated quite matter-of-factly.

“You know, I think I negotiated too well.  I had to get myself a new cell phone.  When I told the dealer I wanted a bluetooth in the car, I didn’t know my phone was too old to be compatible.  Live and learn.  I took it to get the oil changed a few months ago.  They guy said ‘This thing doesn’t need an oil change – it’s only got 1,500 miles on it’.  I told him the deal was to change the oil at least every six months and he was going to do it.  He said I didn’t have enough miles on it.  I told him to think again.  So what if I don’t have any miles on it?  It will last me – unless I hit something.  If I do, I’ll just go get me another one.”

I couldn’t help but laugh as Mrs. Reinkemeyer told me this.  When I had opened the door, the odometer read 3,068 and she has owned it for nearly a year.


image source:

“Jason, you know I looked at a Focus.  That’s just too small.  I’m not going to be cramped after being in my Lincoln.


image source:

“I also looked at an Escape.  Those things are awful.  I didn’t want all that garbage.  Besides, I wanted black…..

1941 Ford Ad-04

“When Raymond and I got married, we bought ourselves a black ’41 Ford.  That was our first car.  I figured for my last car I wanted black.  You start with a black Ford, you should end with a black Ford.  It just seems to be the right thing to do.  I don’t expect to go car shopping ever again….”

Mrs. Reinkemeyer had a tear in her eye.

“Jason, you tell your wife I said hi.  Have a safe trip back to Jefferson City.”