Storytelling Sunday: What a Night!
This tidbit is my contribution to May’s Storytelling Sunday. You can find more stories and a link to add a story of your own at Sian’s From High In The Sky blog.
Who among us doesn’t tear up when we see news coverage of combat troops returning to their families after a long deployment? The handmade signs, the flags, the children jumping up and down, the infants born while their dads were away, the excitement of the spouses as they anticipate being reunited with their other half—all of it is a giant tug on the heartstrings.
It was early October 1973. DH and I had been married for just less than a year but, since I was also active duty Navy, our respective military assignments meant that we had spent less than two months of that first year together. DH had somehow managed to be among the early-returning contingent from his carrier-deployed squadron so he could be home in time for our first anniversary. I was young—only 21 at the time—and was convinced that my worth as a wife was defined by how spotlessly clean our home was (I have since gotten over that in a big way!). I devoted most of the week or two before DH’s return to cleaning—windows and floors sparkled and I had washed and ironed linens, curtains, etc., throughout the house. There wasn’t an inch of our home that wasn’t as spic-and-span as I knew how to make it.
Shortly after we set up housekeeping together in our newly purchased mobile home, we adopted our cat Lover from an animal shelter. A few months later, after DH had deployed, I ended up taking in a stray kitten that I named Annie (as in “Little Orphan…”). Although the two cats had occasional spats, they generally seemed to get along OK. One thing I was looking forward to with DH’s homecoming was introducing him to Annie, our new feline addition.
The much anticipated day finally arrived. We were initially told that the transports would arrive in early afternoon. Time passed and we learned that, for whatever reason, the planes were delayed. After a couple more postponements, I decided to pass the time with a some of the other wives. More hours passed, with the planes finally landing shortly before midnight. By then most everyone was worn out and ready to go home, so the crowd broke up pretty quickly. I don’t remember specifically, but I can easily imagine myself on the way home (nervously) chatting about what I’d been up to around the house and that everything was just “perfect,” etc.
Imagine DH’s surprise (and my dismay) when we opened our kitchen door. The first thing we saw was a huge swath of white across the entire kitchen (from an overturned flour canister)! A second look revealed that the valance curtain rod above the kitchen sink was bent into a V-shape!! We also noticed that the drapes in the dinette were…umm…shredded!!! Between the mess in the kitchen, the late hour, and the fact that we were still newlyweds, we decided to just go to bed, close the bedroom door, and deal with the devastation the next day.
You notice I said “close the bedroom door”? Since I’d been “single” all the months DH was gone, I had gotten into the habit of leaving our bedroom door open and letting the cats come and go as they pleased. Suffice to say that on this night, the cats were not happy to be on the wrong side of a closed door! When we woke the next morning, we knew we had to deal with the mess in the kitchen, but we also discovered that those *!?&%$ cats had also picked or chewed off the corners of all the cushions on the back of our living room couch. In less than 24 hours two normally well behaved cats turned an almost new home into a near ruin!
We still don’t know what set our cats off on such a round of destruction. They hadn’t been destructive before and never behaved like that again. We finally decided that they might have been chasing a cockroach (sorry, all…we were living in southwest Georgia where bugs like that, especially in a mobile home, were altogether too common!) so that one or the other of the cat’s weight on the curtain rod bent it and somewhere during the chase, the flour canister got knocked off its shelf. As far as the sofa cushions are concerned, we think they went after them when they weren’t allowed in our bedroom. What a night!
P.S. I have at least two more cockroach stories I’ll share one of these times.