Gary Rinsem

Tami's Doorbell

How much can a doorbell represent?

Tami's Doorbell represents many things, all extremely important to me. Of course it represents Tami and my desire to know her again, but it also represents Bev and Bren and our never realized hope for a life together... after the Navy. Tami's Doorbell represents the sadness of this house I live in. Sadness caused by the three of us never living here together. Sadness caused by BB never going to ASU, as we planned when buying the house. Most of all, perhaps, the doorbell represents the death of BB and all the sorrow filled years since.


I've been trying to decide for months if I was going to include the doorbell in my new journal. This is a compromise, it's only a few of the doorbell journals. BB wrote a long one that I can't even finish reading. I think this does a fine job of telling the story of Tami's doorbell. I only wish I'd had the chance to show it to her, after whispering love in her ear. The three things that I want most for Tami to know, are explained in the 2001 journal below. It's only become more important to me in the last twenty years.


Home from the airport last Friday, I forgot it was their first time at our house until they yelled not to pull into the carport, to park in the driveway. All excited, I watched them run from one side of the front yard to the other, making plans about landscaping. They calmed down by the front door and called me over. Bev pointed and said "Tami and Vicki are both going to ring that doorbell." She pushed it and nothing happened. They ran to the carport door and into the living room. Unlocked and opened the front door to try again, but all the doorbell did was a thud. It worked before.

Next, BB ran to the backyard and talked more about landscaping. They want a tall block fence for sunbathing privacy. They don't care who looks, but don't want to get arrested. The college kids west of us won't mind, but Randy and Maureen Perry have two young boys east of us. One boy is old enough to get a thrill.

After lunch, BB decided Tami and Vicki needed a doorbell, it had to be fixed immediately. Standing on the old kitchen stool I grew up with, I found out the 1957 doorbell in our 1960 house was too crappy to fix. We rushed right up the street to Handyman and bought a new doorbell. It was installed in no time and tested a hundred times. It even looks better high on the kitchen wall. The old one was an ugly small grey metal box with paint on it from each time the wall was painted.

November 5, 1991

Girls, I usually know what you're up to, you don't fool me.

It's my birthday and BB wanted me to talk about Vicki, on the ninth anniversary of the day we last saw each other. We all talked on the phone today and it was obvious they'd planned it. They must have talked prior to today and decided I needed to know that they were involved in my Tami and Vicki misery. It's sweet of them to be aware, but it doesn't help one bit.

A couple times today they mentioned the doorbell, claiming the day would still come when Tami and Vicki would be here to ring it. I told them it stopped working. I think the transformer is fried. They want me to wait until thanksgiving to fix it, when they're both here.


Today is the third Saturday in February and this year it is both our wedding anniversary and the second year today since BB were killed. After two years I still can't fucking believe it.

I am reminded of all four of them, Tami, Vicki and BB, each time the doorbell rings. Many things around the house remind me of BB, but the doorbell belongs to all four of them. For nine years I've looked up at it as I pass by. It always made me smile until two years ago. I have no hope of Vicki ever ringing it. If it was possible, she would jump on the first plane to come here to me, and ring that damned doorbell a hundred times. Vicki is either dead or in the same situation as me, unable to locate each other.

(NOTE 2-13-2022 - It's been close, but I beat the odds, another year and I'm still alive with a severe Wegener's flair nearly gone. Sooo... I'm looking at old memories here and just now noticed after 25 years, the journal above is wrong. BB died in April 95, not February. I cry now as hard as I did when I wrote that. My life has sucked without the women I love... I die for all four of you every day...)


We had a very unusual Chicken In The Park today. I think I'll write about it in a separate journal.

After CITP the girls dropped me at the house this evening. There was a piece of paper sticking out of the mailbox, a note from Jane telling me she was here and the doorbell is broke. The doorbell works fine, but testing it numerous times has me missing Tami and BB and Vicki. I miss all four of them more than words can tell.

It's been 22 years since Tami and I last saw each other. My feelings for her haven't lessened even a little bit. She is the most important part of my life. It makes me happy to imagine things that will probably never happen, but I keep hoping for them to happen. Hope is all I have.

A million times I've imagined Tami doing as BB insisted she will do, ring her doorbell. It's an odd idea, but it is her doorbell. Ever since BB and I bought the damned thing in 1988, it never rings without thoughts of Tami popping into my head. I've imagined the event so many times that I have my response firmly planned. I know what I'd do if it happened.

I would invite her in and ask for a hug where I would whisper in her ear "I have never stopped loving you." After a brief introduction I'll bring Tami into the kitchen and tell her about BB, followed by the story of the doorbell. I would want her to know why it's so important to me, that she fulfilled BB's prophesy by ringing the doorbell. There's a third item I need to share with her. I want desperately to see her face when I show her the greeting card she gave me. I would present it to her in the same way she presented it to me.

That used up about five minutes of very precious time with Tami. Next I imagine sitting on the patio to talk for as long as she was willing. I have a great many questions to ask her and I want to answer her questions for me. It could easily take hours, but weeks with her would be better.

As long as I'm exhibiting unrealistic hope, let's hope for the moon. I want Tami and I to go to the neighborhood and visit all the places we enjoyed together. I'd like to walk around Saguaro and even Pueblo. I envision us parking in front of her house to talk about memories there, and the same in many other locations. I would like to tell Tami about Holmes and Yoyo while parked in front of that house.

Tami and I never went to a sit down restaurant and one day I'd like to treat her to the birthday dinners, that I planned for her in the 70s. However, this day I would insist on McDonalds for dinner. We don't have to eat anything and I wouldn't want to. We only need to sit in the spot so I can tell her my memory of that special moment. I want very much to hear that she remembers it too.

Bye Tami. I have a thousand pages to write to you, but I'm crying too hard to see the computer screen.