Written for my book, In Love With a Sailor + The Captain in Me, 2013-2014 © Karen Maeby
June 28th, 2009 I was back in Kentucky for a short visit to tie up loose ends from having moved to North Carolina. I had just woken up and was looking at my social media sites like I did every morning. I came across a message from Billy May’s son, he mentioned that his dad didn’t wake up. This struck me with disbelief and it was so hard to grasp.
The show Pitchmen came on TV in March of 2009. It showed the lives of both Sully and Billy and the entire direct response industry. It was one of those life-changing TV shows about entrepreneurship, products and business. You work hard for the results that you want and the success follows. I fell in love with the direct response industry because of Pitchmen.
Every time it was on, we’d all have a “date” on one of the social media sites. I’d host online parties to discuss the details during the show and later have write-ups on my blog about the episode. I got to know several of my current friends because of this show. I also became close with a lot of the ones who worked with Billy.
Not too long after it had reached the end of the first season when Billy died. It was an incredibly hard time for all of us, but at least we had a huge support system. And, if there was anything to be said, we all met because of Billy.
In November of 2009, I was one of the lucky ones who, while in Florida on a short vacation, got a chance to hang out and meet them. I felt so very lucky—it was and still is one of the best days from my past.
While in Florida, I woke up to an episode of the MJ Morning Show where they were discussing Pitchmen and products that were sent to their office. Some of that footage was in an episode for season two.
After the show was over, it was time to go meet them.
I remember walking in the old building to their office that was shown on TV, and when walking in, I could feel Billy’s spirit. There was this warmth that he left when he left this world, and I felt so lucky to have felt it!
I just couldn’t believe that I was shaking the hands of celebrities, the ones from my favorite show. They knew me as the talker, but I was just as quiet as can be.. trying to soak in what was going on! We hung out for quite some time and had lunch together at the big conference table that was shown on the show. Meeting them was such an amazing opportunity.
The rest of the time that trip was spent hanging around at the boat docks, getting together with a couple more friends and enjoying Florida in a winter month.
Season two of Pitchmen was heading back on early the following year, but they had severe issues on marketing and getting it out there. It just wasn’t the same without Billy, unfortunately. I felt honored that they looked to me to help get the word out in the open. I continued to host parties and do next-day write-ups about the show, but it all soon ended.
I came back to Tampa in the summer of 2011 the week of my birthday. I met up with most of them once again and had a great time as always.
In March of 2011, I couldn’t stop thinking about the area and how I just knew in my heart that my future was in Florida, so that is when we made the voyage here. Still to this day moving to Florida was one of the best things I’d ever done.
Even though my Pitchmen family and I don’t really speak much anymore, they’ve never left my heart, and I still love them very much. I often think about our conversations and what brought us together in the first place. Life just has a funny way of moving people in all directions, including away from one another, even if you’re in very close proximity.
June 28th, 2014 marked five years since Billy passed away. I wanted to share my new story that provoked this story to come full circle.
I needed a short getaway trip to finish my book, so I stayed at the Banyan Bed & Breakfast House in Venice, FL this weekend. I arrived Friday evening so I didn’t see anyone else that stayed there until breakfast the following morning.
At breakfast, there were five of us. One couple and their friend’s daughter, another guy (I didn’t get to see his wife that day) and myself.
The couple that brought their friend’s daughter had been coming to the Banyan House for years. I felt so lucky to have met the three of them. They were absolutely great to talk to, so I asked if I was going to be able to see them before they headed home.
For me, the entire day was spent trying to focus on finishing the poetry for my book. When it hit later afternoon, I was asked to join the three of them for dinner. We went to a place downtown and talked about everything, just getting to know one another.
When dinner was over and we arrived back to the Banyan House, the couple and I said goodnight and goodbye. Their friend’s daughter and I spent some time with the innkeepers at the pool house and that is where I finally finished the poetry portion.
I got up early the next morning so that I could properly say goodbye. We talked about when we’d see one another again and that was it. I had one last breakfast with the remaining couple, hung out for a while, talked to the innkeepers and then left.
I am just amazed at lovely this trip was and how I made new friends…over breakfast! We were strangers with an instant connection! I definitely believe it was a meant to be meeting by chance, and I have to say, it was a remarkable gift from Heaven. (Thank you, Billy.)