Being a pilot’s wife, I have learned two things.
- The plans will change.
- The plans will then change again.
This Thanksgiving that really happened illustrates this pilot’s wife “Rules to Live By.”
The Hunni, as usual, was on call the week of Thanksgiving. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, he landed (air ambulance) in Saginaw. Saginaw, Michigan is about 2 hours north of where we live. The Hunni called up and asked if I would come up for the night with the kids and keep him company. The kiddos could go swimming in the indoor pool, and we could all go out for supper together. Perhaps it would be a quiet flying weekend, and we could even spend Thanksgiving day together. Ha. Ha. Anyone in the medical field will tell you that holidays are always extra busy. Remember, the Hunni was flying air ambulance.
So I packed three suitcases. Closed up the house. Packed the kiddos in the car, and headed north. It was snowing, but traffic wasn’t too bad. Most of the traffic seemed to be heading south. I was very thankful I wasn’t heading south as there were two accidents.
I arrived about 2 1/2 hours later in Saginaw, and by that time, it was a regular blizzard. But no worries, I was safe with the Hunni. We did some Christmas shopping and went out to a Mexican restaurant for supper. This was huge fun for this one-income, one-car, one-bathroom family. Then we made reservations at the hotel restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. Not much is open on Thanksgiving day, and reservations were filling up.
The next day was Thanksgiving eve (Wed.). The Hunni spoke with the two nurses (who worked for a different company than The Hunni–they were contracted out to The Hunni’s company.) The two nurses were asking permission “to drink”. Their company granted that permission. That company (a traveling nurse company) required two hours after the last “drink” before they could be back on “active duty.” When The Hunni heard that they had been granted permission “to drink”, he asked for a 2 hour call out.
(Let me here insert that the “drinking policy” for pilots is much stiffer. The general slogan is “Eight hours from the bottle to the throttle.” Pilots don’t drink and fly. The penalty is that they lose their license that took bucko buck-os and mucho hours-o to get-o. I just want to make that very, VERY clear.)
But back to the story. . .with a two-hour call out, this Whit’s End family could go Home. With a two-hour call out, The Hunni could just hop in the car and be back up in Saginaw in time for a flight. Permission was granted for a two-hour call out. I ran to the grocery store and bought all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner. I wasn’t worried about keeping anything cold as there was 6 inches on the ground and more was coming down. We canceled our reservations for Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel restaurant with glee. This was U-turn number 1.
The Hunni was going to drive the 2 hours back south, so I relaxed. Traffic was bad, and once again, we passed at least two car accidents. Snow was falling heavily, but The Hunni is a good driver. When we were one exit away (about 7 miles from home), The Hunni’s phone rang. Remember rule #2 from “The Pilot’s Wife Motto To Live By?”–2. The plans will then change.
The Hunni had received his two-hour call-out. If he took the time to drop me and the kiddos and the groceries off at home, he would be late. So, we took that last exit before home and turned back north for another 2 + hour trip. This time, nobody was relaxed. The Hunni had to drive 70 m.p.h. on slick roads with poor visibility to get back to the plane. The kiddos were all of a sudden told to sit for another two hours. The Mommi was reeling with the second U turn.
We pulled into the parking lot as the shuttle bus was arriving to take the crew to the plane. In other words, just in the nick of time. The Hunni jumped out, grabbed his suitcase, and yelled, “Don’t you DARE drive back in this mess. Spend the night here.” And then he was in the shuttle bus pulling away.
I thought. “What do I do with $100.00+ worth of Thanksgiving groceries in the back of the car?” Then I realized that it was freezing out, and everything would definitely stay cold. I even left the potatoes and things like lettuce that shouldn’t freeze in the car. I was just in that sort of mood.
As I entered the hotel, I once again made Thanksgiving dinner reservations at the restaurant, then we all went to bed early. I was exhausted. “Oh well,” I thought, “we will sleep in tomorrow, eat dinner at the restaurant, the kiddos can go swimming, and then, if the weather is nice, I will start home before dark.” With that last thought, I fell asleep.
That was the plan at least. At 7:00 a.m. the phone rang. It was The Hunni. “Guess where I am?”, he said. “Bermuda?”, I ventured, thinking that maybe he was someplace fun. “Nope,” he said, “I am at our home in our bed. Why don’t you jump in the car and drive down. We could have a Thanksgiving supper. Oh, and by the way. Your brother and his wife and kids are here also.”
It turns out that The Hunni had flown all night, then the plane broke, and they had to head back for maintenance. The closest maintenance hangar was our local airport. The Hunni was just crawling into bed after flying all night.
I looked at the clock. The turkey would need 4 hours to cook. I needed to get home right away. Once again, I packed up three suitcases, and loaded three kiddos into the car. And once again, I stopped by the restaurant to cancel our dinner reservation. I didn’t try to explain. Who would believe me anyway. That was U-turn number 3.
The storm had passed, and the roads were clear. The kiddos were too tired to really fuss about the missed swimming and yet another car trip. Besides, Daddi was at the other end of the trip.
The Hunni slept all day. I cooked all day. And my brother and his wife who had dinner plans with their extended in-law family came home early for another Thanksgiving supper.
It worked out. It took 3 U-turns, but it worked out. The lettuce didn’t even freeze, and the turkey was slowly thawed. But most importantly, we were together.
That was a Thanksgiving that really happened.
P.S. That was about four years ago. We now have another little kiddo to pack up and take along. It’s okay. I love my “inconvenient kids.”