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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Texas Arrives in Michigan

So Rebecca was coming for a visit.  She was arriving from Texas with her three boys to stay with us for a few days.

Rebecca and I raised our boys together during the short time she lived in the state.  Two of our sons share the same name.  When I had stressed over naming our second son Isaac, Jake had shrugged and said, “How long do you think you two will be friends?”

Forever and ever, buddy.

Photo snapped at Rebecca's arrival.

Because with her city life in Texas and my, well, eccentric life here, we are still the best of friends and our boys – who don’t recall the time they were sorta neighbors, play together like peas in a pod.

You can imagine my joy at her arrival.

You can also imagine my cleaning frenzy.

I cleaned the carpets days before she arrived.  I washed every sleeping bag.  I sent the boys to clean the camper (that I loving called her suite. Hey, it’s a queen size bed and bathroom just for her!) because because I was getting over being sick.

I felt pretty confident about when she would arrive.  This time we were prepared.

The thing I was worried about the most was my cat.

For years we have had a black and white cat named Fernie Cow.  While she has been a bit rude to the boys in her later years, she has been my pet.  She greets me when I return home, she sleeps on the bed when Jake leaves for work, she makes sure she has my attention if I snuggled in with a book.  When we went camping, she had snuck down to the basement.  Our basement is a Michigan cellar…it holds our water heater and so forth, it isn’t high enough for us to stand tall in and the rest is crawl space.  Fernie goes to the basement when she is feeling antisocial.

But she didn’t come up from the basement.

We had to assume the worst when days later and me calling and searching as far as the flashlight would go that she was dead.

Dead under our floor boards.

And it was about to hit the mid nineties in temperature.

The day Rebecca was to arrive, my husband took a deep breath of the cooler air and said, “I think Fernie must have escaped.  We would have smelled her by now.  Must be she got outside, knowing she was about to die.”

A few hours before Rebecca arrived, I sent S4 down to get some beans and corn for the shepherd’s pie I had been requested to make for dinner.  I had just dumped the hamburger to drain and was shocked when S4 came screaming up the stairs.  “Fernie! Fernie!” he cried.

And there was Fernie, looking dead but she was alive.

Her back legs hardly moved.  Her hair long hair was matted.  She just leaned into me and purred. 

I knew she had come back just to die.

How she survived this long, I have no idea. 

By this time we had gotten rid of her kitty litter box, but I did have some litter left so I poured some in a pizza box and left it on the floor for her.  I gave her food and water.  She just collapsed on the floor and let out a sad meow every once in awhile.

I figured I should let Rebecca know this.

This was also when I read her text.  “Surprise, Travis is coming with me.”

Her husband.

I wrote “the more the merrier”, panicked a bit and then texted her, “I have a cat story for you.  It’s why there is a litter in a pizza box in our bathroom. It’s tragic and awful and sorta funny but not really but kind of it is.  Sorta.”

She texted back, “I need to hear that story!!”

When Rebecca was just nearly about to arrive, I vacuumed the living room, left it finally clean and went to start washing the pots.  I had made ten pounds of mashed potatoes and needed to wash my monster pot that was soaking.  I dumped the water out and…it stayed in the sink.

In the fourteen years of living here, this has never happened.

I took the plunger and attempted to force it down.  I was certain potato chunks must be in the drain.  I scooped all the nasty sat all night and day water out and dumped it onto the yard.  Nothing worked.

So I called in S1. “Can you fix this?” I asked.

“I can sure try. Sure,” he shrugged and got busy.

Rebecca texted she was about 15 minutes out.

I put on make up.  The cat was barely moving.

I looked into the living room where I heard squeals, the two youngest had just hauled out every blanket and pedestal stand to make tents that filled the living room.  Impressively done in all of ten minutes. 

I went into the kitchen where S1 had the pipes off, every thing I have ever collected under a kitchen sink out from under the kitchen sink and on the floor.

At least dinner smelled great.

And then Rebecca arrived.

Her three boys flew off to be with my three younger boys.  S1 stayed busy working on the sink.  She looked into my eyes and asked me if I was stressed.

I was just so happy she was here.

I snapped a picture of us and sent it to Jake so he knew they had arrived.

The boys dragged Travis, Rebecca’s husband, over to the tank to see the snakes and turtles and frogs. They introduced him the meat rabbit that they hoped we could have for dinner tomorrow.  Travis felt he may be sick and had to lay down on the hammock.  We sort of have that effect on people.

The sink stayed plugged.

When Austin, Rebecca’s youngest at six, had to use the bathroom, Travis had to go in with him.  Austin didn’t like the way the cat stared at him.

My handsome Jake arrived home to complete and utter chaos.  He had been sick the day before and was miserable feeling when he arrived.  He looked at the sink, I started to stress he would be mad because this had to be my fault, and when he realized the hose with the holes wasn’t going to be long enough for this project S1 ran out to his shop and got out his Father’s Day gift…a new garden hose.  The hose snaked through the house and cleaned out the pipes.

The pipes filled with grease.

Grease from the hamburger I had made earlier in the day.  Thankfully it was a quick (although messy) fix.  And bless Rebecca’s heart for saying, “It looks like potato to me.  You sure that is grease in that bucket?”

The hero man moved on to the next project, moving the camper into place.

And as Rebecca and I chatted and giggled and caught up (we turn into silly girls when we get together…who is this mom person these boys ask of?), he grabbed up the cat that we had all had a chance to say goodbye to, laid her gently in a paper bag and headed to the door.

“Don’t let the cat out of the bag,” Rebecca joked and we sort of all snickered at the sad moment.

By the end of the night, Rebecca’s boys were covered, literally covered like they had been rubbed down, in mud.  The sink drained, the cat was buried, the camper was ready.  The food we devoured in heaping spoonfuls.  My hero husband retreated to bed.

And Rebecca and I, exhausted, just looked at eachother and laughed.

What a greeting to our home. 

Our House - Pic Taken by Rebecca

The next two days were a blur of fun and mud.  We played cards for hours and had those indepth talks you never get over the phone or email.  The boys skinned a snake (I made sure she knew it could go home with her), the boys were covered in layers of mud.  Travis took them swimming, which we felt sure was the only way they would ever get partially clean.

The boys. Taking a break from the swamp, go cart and critters.

It was good, so good, to have them here.  Chaos and all, there is nothing like getting together with a friend.

If you would like to hear her side of the story, click over to her blog.  She writes beautifully of God and spiritual growth and marriage…then she comes to see me and talks of skinned snakes.

It’s bound to be a great read.

All of us when we said goodbye at Bay Pointe Pool

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