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Day 7

September 22, 2010

I spent 20 years as a military wife.  It’s an odd job full of quirks.  “Normal” is redefined on a frequent basis.

I’ve spent the past few years re-adjusting to civilian life.  Only sorta, though.  We do still have some military benefits, and Mr Sparky went back to work on base after he retired.  He just did it as a contractor this time.

Being a military wife has some built-in drama.  Frequent TDYs (military business trips, basically), deployments, and base exercises…it all adds up to crazy sometime.  And I remember a crazy from the early days.

We were stationed at Wurtsmith AFB in ’89.  The Jr Spark was almost two, and I was pregnant with the eldest Sparkette.  The Cold War was still raging, and Mr Spark, who was 1st Lt. Spark at the time, was part of an aircrew that had to sit “alert”.  Sitting alert meant that you and your crew would spend an entire week together in a secure facility along with big bombers which were loaded for war and could be launched literally in minutes.  The crew had to always be together.  They could go a few places outside the facility, but not without everyone moving as a gaggle.  Home was not one of the places they could come.  Mr Sparky and his crew were on a schedule of one week on, two weeks off.  And the year I’m remembering, Mr Sparky was on alert for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were the two days that family members were cleared to enter the alert facility.  It was all very controlled, and we basically went for a big potluck meal and then were escorted out again.  I knew I needed to prepare for the dinner, and so I decided to make a couple of pumpkin pies.

Now, picture this.  Cranky toddler.  Me six-and-a-half months pregnant.  I’m playing single parent over a holiday.  Michigan winter already setting in.  And I did something to my lower back, sending it into full spasms.  I should have known this was a recipe for disaster.  But I said I’d bring stuff, and this was a holiday, dagnabit.  I tried hard to keep going.

The day before the Thanksgiving dinner I was in my kitchen trying to bake pies.  Unfortunately, I discovered the hard way that I didn’t have the mobility to lower a free-standing range oven door, lift a heavy (and spillable) pie into it, close the door, let it bake, and then get it back out again without setting off spasms so severe that they nearly jerked me to the ground.  Being pregnant, there was nothing I could take to relax the muscles.  To make matters worse, Jr Spark wanted to be held and was having tantrums.  I couldn’t lift him. Heck, I couldn’t even get down to change his diaper.  At one point I was bent sideways with my back locked up, a screaming toddler at my feet, an oven timer going off with a pie over-browning in the oven, and the phone ringing.  I couldn’t do a thing about any of it.  I couldn’t move a bit.  All I could do was stand there and cry, knowing that it would be an entire week before I had help.

Eventually I inched my way upright, got the pie out of the oven, and found ways to deal with the rest of the day.  It was miserable, but I was grateful that the pies hadn’t burned.

The next morning I made my way downstairs to the kitchen where the pies had been covered in plastic wrap and left on the counter.  The sight that greeted my eyes sent me straight back into tears.  Our Big Dumb Cat of that time, Walter J. Kitty (who did indeed have a secret life), had walked THROUGH one of the pies, mashing the plastic wrap into the pies and leaving footprints in it…and then to add insult to injury he ate part of the plastic wrap off both pies.  Never ate a bite of the pies as best I could tell, but the one pie was ruined anyway, and no way was I going to inspect too closely to see if there was damage to be found on the other one.  I needed that pie to be intact, and so I declared it intact.

That was the most miserable alert I remember.  Not the only miserable one, but definitely the most miserable.  I can laugh about it now, but it was not funny then.  I was in a lot of pain, I was alone, and I had blown past my frustration limit by about two miles.

Kinda wish I’d had the clarity and physical ability to take a picture of those pies, though.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2010 10:46 pm

    You had me rolling with this one. I mean you always do, but this one hit a soft spot. Praise God that we are in a different season of our lives now that Matthew is on a frequent TDY status.

  2. lanavaughan permalink
    September 23, 2010 10:54 am

    I can just imagine the determined look on your face when you pushed through all the challenges. Great story.

  3. Kellie permalink
    September 23, 2010 7:36 pm

    Ooohhhh…. a picture would have been nice!

  4. September 29, 2010 9:09 pm

    That stressed me out just reading it!

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