It was a great day. My wife was putting final touches on her trip arrangements to Newfoundland. Everything was checked and double-checked, including weight of suitcases. We were both excited about her trip back home to help her mom celebrate her 85th birthday.
It was now time to check me in. It was called “Job orientation for being home alone.” First trip was to the basement with the instruction, “Follow me.” I remained silent but intuitively inquisitive about this “Follow me” to the basement. She was very emphatic without mincing words. Standing in the doorway she said, “This is the laundry room.”
“Did anything change,” I thought? “It was the laundry room for the past three years and why would it not be the laundry room today?” Wisely, I did not voice this thought.
We stood by the washer and dryer like they were gods to be worshipped. “Now this is the washer.” “OK,” I said, “and what is this yellow sheet on both the washer and the dryer with an endless list of instructions?” She simply stared at me and then, as if I couldn’t read, she carefully read every word of the instructions without missing a beat and then asked, “Do you understand?” I almost saluted. I stood in awe at the carefully chosen words that were well crafted so that I would understand every tiny detail.
Moving out of the laundry room, again she said “Follow me.” Up the stairs we go and into the spare bedroom. I don’t know why I didn’t notice the subtle arrangements but the bed was covered with a clothing layout that would keep me properly dressed for the next two weeks. I didn’t even know I owned so many clothes. In each layout were socks, underwear, pants/jeans, a shirt and tie—I always wear a tie to the office.
Pointing to the closet there were other clothing arrangements. “This is what you will be wearing for the next three Sundays while I am away,” she said. A suit for each Sunday with a ‘matching’ shirt and tie and an extra hanger just in case of an emergency, like a funeral or something.
While standing in the bedroom my respect for the orderliness of my wife hit the ceiling. She was absolutely perfect. She did not take me to the refrigerator or the pantry because I’m my own cook and very familiar with putting together a nutritious meal. I just wished she told me to take off my clothes before putting it in the washer. A guy can become very claustrophobic with a serious headache while his face is pressed against the washer door waiting for the cycle to finish. Worse still is trying to hang yourself on the clothesline to dry.
We left the house at midnight so she could catch the flight out of Grand Prairie. We talked a lot of general stuff but talked most about my being home alone. We gave each other a warm embrace and a sensual kiss as she disappeared through security. For the next two weeks plus I would be home alone.
The drive back to Chetwynd was very quiet and rather somber. I knew I would miss my wife but both of us would have a great time.
The first two days of my newfound bachelorhood went well. On the third day of being alone I was ready to make my daily trip to my office. I selected the next pile of clothes laying on the bed and standing in front of the mirror I tried to look my best without my wife fussing over me. Ready to go. I stepped out of the house and walked toward my vehicle. Though my calendar was full I was excited about a new day and all the challenges that were mine to face.
I reached into my pocket for some keys but I had none. “Oh no!” I thought. I just hope I forgot to lock the house door. In slow motion I walked back to the house, turned the knob and my heart felt just a little sick. Door locked with no keys for access and my wife is almost seven thousand kms away.
I’m on a tight schedule and need to get to the office ASAP. Yes, ever Pastors can have tight schedules and I was proud of my discipline in meeting the demands of that schedule. If my wife was standing by my side at that moment she would have remained silent except for her famous phrase, “George, you are as stun as a lump.”
I went around the house several times looking for an open window, anything that would give me hope. I thought, “I will use my ladder to access a window that I knew wasn’t locked.”
My ladder was locked in the basement.
Fifteen minutes had passed and the only thing I accomplished was to heighten my frustration to the point of boiling. There are times when you get so frustrated that the obvious is just a little out of focus. Three times I tried to open the same basement window with no success but on the fourth attempt it simply slid open. I heard myself saying, “Amen! Praise the Lord!”
Carefully getting on my knees and peering through the opening I was sure I could get my head inside. With some difficulty I did manage to get my head through this small opening but it would be difficult to get my whole body all the way through. With my head now completely inside my hopes began to fade just a little.
You see, it was a unique room that was called our cold room with shelves filled with preserves and stacks of boxes and decorations representing everything from baby showers to Christmas. There was almost a drop of eight feet from eye level to the floor. There is no way I can enter without doing damage to myself or some of the preserves or stacks of decorations.
I gradually moved my body a little further into the opening just to get a further look and make some mental observations as to the best option. If my neighbor had seen my backside sticking out the window a 911 call would have been made screaming, “Someone is breaking into the pastor’s house.” I can imagine the operator asking, “Can you identify the perpetrator?” “No! No! I can only see his backside.” “And what color is his backside?” asks the operator. I can then imaging the caller hanging up the phone in frustration.
I couldn’t go any further. I tried backing out of the opening but I was too far inside to extricate myself. There was more of me inside the window than out.
Suddenly my upper body gained the momentum and I quickly slithered through the window with absolutely no warning. My mind raced with all manner of possible outcomes, none of them good.
While the sliding was almost instant it seemed like slow motion. Nothing to cling to but shelves of preservatives, empty boxes, Christmas decorations and craft ‘stuff’ of every description. A moment of free fall and then I met the concrete floor with a sudden impact and the sound of broken bottles and decorations all around me.
It was insane. I paused for a moment and waited for the broken bones to show through my flesh and anticipated warm blood covering my body. Nothing between me and the concrete but air. I moved. I pushed. I was breathing. Standing to my feet I looked like a Christmas tree covered in decorations, save for the angel on top. My language probably scared the angel away.
While I didn’t die I’m sure I heard myself saying, “The wife is going to kill me when she sees the damage I’ve caused.” I walked out, slammed the door and said, “Sheila will clean up the mess in three weeks’ time when I take her to the basement and says, ‘Sweetheart, this is the cold room.’”
Then I will run for my life.