Sunday from Hell or Does Somebody Up There Hate Us?
(Found this thirty-two year old memoir, while cleaning out files this morning. Someday, if I live long enough, I may think this is funny.)
I really believe in a God that loves us unconditionally; that that’s sort of what He does for a living. But sometimes….………
When I wrote this, we lived way out in the country, through a creek, up a hill, down a hollow, all five miles of which were traversed on an ancient dirt wagon path, last tended by Roosevelt’s CCC Corps.
Since we had a large family; us, five kids, my mother next door, horses, and miscellaneous and multitudinous pets, we drove a Suburban Wagon and a pick-up truck. Both vehicles were middle-aged and generally loose-jointed from the constant and traumatic trips over what euphemistically passed for a road to civilization.
Our adventure started on Saturday, when our eighteen year old had to take the Suburban to his new job fifty miles away, since the special jack for the truck was broken. That left mother and me using the pick-up to do our weekly grocery shopping. No problem, until a steady downpour set in just as we hit town. I bought only enough groceries to get by that day, then crammed them, mother, the new jack, and her purchases into the cab of the truck. So far, all was well, except maybe mother.
That night we got organized for a busy two hours at church on Sunday. One child was scheduled to practice lectoring at ten, while another was to train as a new altar boy, and I was teaching preschoolers. My husband and I were to usher at the eleven o’clock service, while one son served and the other lectored.(read the Scriptures.)
Three home haircuts, one bandaged ear, clothes laid out, and my mother reminded of the exact time of departure, I even remembered to set the alarm for six a.m. to get the eighteen year old up for work. Shutting my eyes about midnight, I treasured the thought that after getting our son up, we could sleep until at least eight-thirty, since we were so organized.
Ho! Ho! Ho!
6:00 a.m. Alarm goes off. Husband rouses son.
6:40 a.m. Phone rings and husband stumbles to it. Husband exercises remarkable restraint to his mother-in-law’s enquiry as to where-abouts of her umbrella.
7:00 a.m. Son announces that truck has flat tire and lugs are frozen. Good thing we bought that jack. That crises handled, we return to bed.
7:30 a.m. Phone rings and husband mutters his way to it. I offer silent prayers that it’s not about umbrellas. Unfortunately, it is not. It’s son fifteen miles from home with truck broken down in the middle of nowhere. We both get up and husband dresses hurriedly to rescue son.
7:50 a.m. Husband’s key chain breaks on way to car, spreading keys all over gravel driveway.
8:00 a.m. Husband drives off. ( Muttering censored.)
8:15 a.m. Husband notices that car is overheating badly. Detours to his office to get water.
8:30 a.m. Radiator bone dry and steaming, but husband cannot get into office to get water, since office key evidently still lying in driveway.
8:35 a.m. Sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky. Mother walks through woods to arrive an hour early. Still worrying obsessively about umbrella. Alarm goes off. I realize I am out of cigarettes.
8:50 a.m. Husband prays way to filling station without water. Filling station is closed. (Maybe prayer cancelled out by earlier censored muttering?)
9:00 a.m. Ingenious husband finds outside water tap and coke can to fill radiator.
9:15 a.m. Husband learns noteworthy fact: It takes fifty to sixty coke cans of water to fill a radiator.
9:20 a.m. Son calls asking if Dad went back to sleep. (My reply censored.)
9:25 a.m. I see handwriting on wall and start calling to find a ride to church.
9:30 a.m. Husband realizes Suburban’s gas tank is registering empty and wallet almost empty. (Regresses to censored muttering.)
9:35 a.m. I start calling to find substitutes for teaching, lecturing, serving, and ushering.
9:40 a.m. Husband finds open self-serve gas station. Gas gauge now registering slightly above empty. Wallet registering empty. Switches back to prayer.
9:45 a.m. My mother still worrying about umbrella. I remember it’s in the truck. I start searching purses and pockets for cigarettes.
9:50 a.m. Husband arrives to rescue son. Ignores question about whereabouts for last hour and a half. Opts to use Suburban to push truck all the way back to our regular service station where we have credit.
10:10 a.m. Arrives at service station, which is still closed. Starts son refilling hot radiator with the coke can and a seven up can from the truck. Son asks no more questions.
10:15 a.m. Service station attendant arrives. Diagnosis truck as needing a mechanic, but Suburban just needs a new water hose. Suspense builds. Do they have a water hose? Why ruin a perfect record. Of course not. Husband beyond muttering, censored or otherwise.
10:20 a.m. Miracle discovery of an open parts store one block away. Son has enough money to buy hose. Husband repairs hose.
Meanwhile back at the old homestead, chaos reigns, as children and grandmother freak out over noisy impending demise of adorable chipmunk in jaws of hungry cat in full view outside sliding glass door. I shout over uproar and hand down ruling that all close their eyes and ears and accept cat’s role in ecological balance of nature. Children go sulk in rooms and grandmother goes home in protest. I surreptitiously dig for long cigarette butts in ashtrays. I try one more call, then give up on finding a lector substitute and mentally wish priest luck.
10:50 a.m. Hooray, hose is fixed and husband and son on way home. Suburban begins to make ominous jet airplane noises.
11:00 a.m. Husband and son arrive home in Suburban with jet airplane delusion. Grandmother arrives with doughnuts to console children. Son calls boss and is requested to come as soon as possible, “or else” is implied.
For next ten minutes we hold a democratic discussion, loosely translated as everyone yelling at once, about possibilities of son dropping everyone off at church and how many friends would it take to get us all home afterward? And how would we get groceries? Fifteen year old expresses grievance about not getting to go play tennis. My and my husband’s simultaneous spontaneous responses censored. (We regress a lot.) Son worrying about jet noises, since his job is fifty miles away. Mother still looking for umbrella. Cat still nibbling on chipmunk, which fortunately is beyond caring.
11:15 a.m. We call married son, whose wife is sick with a stomach virus, but who agrees to pick us up at the grocery in an hour and bring us home.
11:30 a.m. Eighteen year old drops parents like kittens in Kroger parking lot and jets off to work.
12:00 noon Run into mechanic in Krogers. His diagnosis: truck seriously ill, Suburban’s jet noise
also may be serious and dangerous on the highway.
12:30 p.m. Married son packs us and our eight sacks of groceries into his small car.
12:45 p.m. Son’s car begins making strange noise half-way to our house. Son stops to
Investigate. Husband remains numbly staring into space, while lighting two cigarettes at the same time.
12:55 p.m. Ice cream melts.
1:05 p.m. Start on again. Noise quits, but car drags bottom along last stretch of rough road.
Son sighs a lot. Husband mute.
1:20 p.m. Arrive home with eight sacks of groceries to ravenous whiney children, full cat, Mother again asking my husband about her umbrella. As husband opens six pack bought at Krogers, I hear him muttering something about “where the sun don’t shine.”
1:30 p.m. Phone rings and I panic that it might be about son driving the dangerous Suburban. It’s the person in charge of lectors asking was anything the matter, that our son didn’t come to lector?
2:30 p.m. Person in charge of lectors says that she is sorry she asked.
2:45 p.m. Husband finishes six pack. I escort mother, who is still obsessing about her umbrella through the woods to the safety of her house.