Occasionally, but not too often, my work transplants me to places far, far away. When this necessity for air travel jerks me up from home and drops me into places unforeseen, it is not only cause for alarm in my psyche with the change in routine, but certainly causes a stir on the home front as well. When I first began travelling more frequently with my job a couple of years ago, the natives were somewhat restless, but after they had gotten somewhat used to my departures, it became every-kid-for-himself—a time for them to say “What’s in this for me?”
A few trips ago, as I was preparing to leave, one of the kids asked, “So, how many nights are you going to be gone, Daddy?” My head swelled with pride thinking, “Wow, they are really going to miss me!” How nice, I thought to myself, that they were genuinely concerned with how long I was scheduled to be away. Then, like a pin-pricked balloon, my pride-swollen head was quickly deflated! I found out that they were just counting the nights I would be gone to make sure there would be enough vacancies for them to all take a turn in the bed with Mommy in my absence. Now there’s gratitude for you!
My most recent trip this past week carried me away to the windy city of Chicago. As I rode planes, trains, and automobiles and strode between skyscrapers taking me out of my element, it was business as usual back home. Katrina always does a great job of taking care of everything with the house and kids while I’m away, and this time was no exception. But Katrina and the kids were certainly put to the test on the second day I was away.
I seldom miss the opportunity for our family to attend church together, but this trip took me away last Sunday, leaving Katrina in charge of getting her and all five of the kids ready for church and out the door. She usually does the bulk of getting the kids ready anyway, but I’d like to think that when I am at home assisting that it’s somewhat easier. At least I’m there to be the van driver, right?
On that fateful Sunday morning Katrina had done a stellar job of getting her and the kids on their way to church. With the kids buckled in the van, she sat down in the driver’s seat, started the van, and just as she began to shut her door, she heard a loud yelping sound behind the van. She looked back, and to her horror, there laid Sammy, our Yorkie-Poo. He had fallen off of the roof of the garage and onto our concrete driveway. She rushed over to him as he yelped loudly, and as she approached she feared the worst.
Our multi-level house is built into the side of a hill. When standing in the driveway looking at the garage door, the roof peaks steeply in the middle. One peak goes down to the left and comes very near to the ground in the backyard. The other side of the roof comes down and connects to the front porch roof. This series of connecting roofs has been Sammy’s domain since he first braved its peaks over two years ago. With skill and grace his little paws have padded up and down every edge and peak of the roof, entertaining anyone who happens to pay us a visit as they point, laugh, and stare at amazement at our “roof dog”. Now, to her horror, Katrina feared that Sammy had fallen to his death.
As Katrina gently scooped him into her arms, she could see that he was in pretty bad shape. His front leg hung limp, as if broken, and he was bleeding from his mouth. Thinking that he was probably not going to make it, she and the kids put him in the basket that he sleeps in and decided to just bring him along to church with them. Katrina had to be at church to teach her Sunday School class, so she really couldn’t miss her class to stay home with Sammy.
After they arrived at church Sammy seemed to be going downhill fast. Katrina, seeing how really bad Sammy was, and not knowing the full extent of his injuries, really did not expect him to still be alive when they came out of church. Thinking that he was about to take his last breath at any moment, Katrina and all of the kids tearfully told him goodbye, and on that sad, cold morning, they left him curled up in his bed in the van. As they tearfully walked into church, Katrina had one of the other ladies at church pray with her and the kids, asking God to help Sammy be okay.
After Sunday School Katrina and the kids, gravely concerned about Sammy, went out to check on him. To their surprise, Sammy’s ears perked up nicely upon their arrival, and he seemed to have gathered new strength. Bradley gave Sammy a cookie that he had gotten in his class, and Sammy ate it up as if he had never seen food before. Joyful that Sammy had seemed to get his second wind, Katrina and the kids went back into church knowing that he was all right.
After church was over and they got home, Katrina was faced with the dilemma of what to do about Sammy’s badly contorted leg. No veterinarian would likely be open on a Sunday, so she tried to make Sammy comfortable and intended on taking him to the vet the next day. Then, the thought occurred to her: Our oldest son Andrew’s girlfriend, Kristen, was an animal enthusiast and was going to school to be a vet. Maybe she and Andrew could help.
Katrina gave them a call, and sure enough, they rushed right over. Upon further examination, the prognosis was that Sammy’s front leg didn’t seem to be broken at all, but was just twisted out of socket. After they all agreed that it should just be “snapped” back into place, Andrew elected to be the chief surgeon, and with skill and grace, jerked the leg back into place. Voila! Good as new! Well, almost. Now that the leg looked like it was going the right direction, time and healing would have to take place to see if Sammy would be able to walk normally again.
Now that things with Sammy had seemed to settle down for the day, it was time for the kids to turn their attention to more important things: Who was going to get to sleep next to Mommy that night in Daddy’s absence? After the trauma of the day, Katrina decided that some togetherness was needed, so when bedtime came around, Hannah took my spot in the bed, and Holly, Joshua, Bradley, and yes, Sammy, encircled the bed on pallets they made in the floor. I had not only been replaced in the bed, but a congregation had gathered around vying for my spot as I laid my head down far, far away in a lonely hotel room.
Several days later, upon my return, I was happily greeted by Katrina and all of kids, and also by our “inside” dog Sammy, hobbling nicely on three legs. After all these years of instituting the “pets belong outside” rule, I think I’ve been had. As I visualize myself stepping on moist places in the floor, I’m praying for Sammy’s speedy recovery so that he can return to the great outdoors.
Then again, it may not be one of the kids that I get replaced by in the bed on my next trip.
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, November 7-8, 2010.