That Thanksgiving!

November 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Posted in Personal Testimony, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Except for the obvious tongue in cheek parts, the following story is completely true.  I wrote it down about 10 years ago with help from my mom and sister.  I thought this week of Thanksgiving would be a great time to post it for others to enjoy.

Every time my extended family gets together for holidays or family reunions, one memory is bound to come up at least once.  It was November of 1977 or 1978, we’ve since forgotten exactly which, when it all happened.  Ever since then, we’ve simply called it “That Thanksgiving,” and everyone in the Gilpin family knows exactly what we mean by “That Thanksgiving.”

For my Mom, it all started on Wednesday afternoon with a list locked in a file cabinet.  She was working at the church, and a number of high school girls were coming to Cheyenne for a weekend church conference.  A list was made of the girls coming and the families who were to house them.  It was this list that was inadvertently locked into the file cabinet for which only Mom had a key.  She had left the church early for lunch, and to do some necessary Thanksgiving shopping with her sister, forgetting to get the list to Pastor Dunn.  The church office had been trying to call her all afternoon.

In the mean time, my sister Linda and I arrived home from college for the long holiday weekend, carrying the loads and loads of laundry college students usually have on such occasions.  Being the wonderful, good kids we were, we separated our dirty clothes into piles on the basement floor and began the first wash load.  Not knowing where our mother was, we kept putting Pastor Dunn off.  “She’ll call you when she gets here,” we said.

Mom arrived home and called Pastor Dunn about the list.  While on the phone, it occurred to her that the water had been running into the washer ever since she arrived, which seemed like an awful long time for one load of laundry.  She ventured into the basement to find the laundry room flooded with 3-4 inches of water.  All the laundry that had been so carefully separated was now sopping wet.  Pastor Dunn wasn’t the only one who was called; a plumber was needed as well.

Mom then left with the file cabinet key to get the list delivered, while Linda and I waited for the plumber.  When the plumber arrived, he reported that there was nothing he could do.  It appeared to be a washing machine problem and the repairman for that appliance needed to be called.

When Mom returned home, she prepared supper, while she, Linda and I worked to clean up the mess in the basement.  The rest of the evening was quiet and uneventful primarily because the laundry repairman couldn’t get there before Thanksgiving.

When we all woke up on the holiday, Mom had a stomach flu bug.  Thanksgiving Dinner for the extended family was scheduled to be at Aunt Martha’s house, but Mom opted to stay home in bed.  Nobody in the family brought her dinner.  (This was an oversight of which her children have been reminded numerous times since.  Hey, what could we do?  She had told us she was too sick to eat.)  Not only that, but Martha had made mince meat pie, and she tried to get us to take a piece home for Mom.  We responded that no one in our family likes mince meat pie.  (We’ve since learned well that no one in our family EXCEPT MOM likes mince meat pie!)

On Friday, Mom was feeling better, and went to work at the church.  (That is, she was feeling better physically; she still hasn’t recovered emotionally from the mince meat ordeal.)  However, I contracted the stomach flu and got so sick that I began throwing up (I still swear it was mince meat, though I really didn’t eat it!).  It got so bad that Mom decided to take me to the hospital emergency room.

When we arrived at the hospital, we waited for what seemed an unusually long time.  (I mean this was an emergency room, what if someone had a real emergency?)  Anyway, the only comfortable position I could find for the tremendous side ache was laying flat on my back, so I finally laid down on the floor of the waiting room in that position.  No one seemed to take much notice.  We laughed about a person with a real emergency dying on the floor of the waiting room and the attendants not even noticing it.  When a nurse finally did happen in, she saw me and said, “O my gosh!  Is he alright?”  When assured that I was not dying immediately but that had come to the EMERGENCY ROOM for a reason, she left.  As she left the waiting room, we heard her say, “Has anyone called the Morgue yet?”

Well, eventually I was given some medicine to survive the ordeal, and we went home to welcome our guests who were arriving in town for the church conference.  Because we were to house two guests who were girls, they were given Linda’s bedroom upstairs, and Linda moved into the basement — now much dryer — for the next two nights.  She woke up Saturday with the stomach flu bug that seemed to be making the rounds of the entire family.  She spent the day at home, but didn’t need the hospital.  A few things seemed to be looking up that day.  The washing machine was repaired, and no other major disasters were recorded.  That is no other major disasters were recorded during the day.  The night is a different story.

I recall my dad shaking me awake in the middle of the night saying, “Get up. The house might be on fire.  We have to get outside.”  For a man who doesn’t get emotional about anything but Bronco football and, to a greater degree, University of Wyoming Cowgirl Basketball when his daughter plays, those are tremendous words of excitement!  And, as you can imagine, I got up rather quickly to find that everyone else in the house was already aware of the problem.  Apparently Dad was awakened by the smell of smoke.  He and Mom debated what to do with guests, but had decided it best to wake everyone right away and call the fire department.  Because it was cold outside and there seemed to be no immediate danger — no flames were visible — we all sat on the couch in our pajamas, winter coats and shoes, while we waited for the firemen’s arrival.

The fire truck came with sirens for the entire neighborhood to hear.  When they appeared, the crew chief took one sniff of the smoke and immediately said, “I know that smell.  Your furnace motor is burning.  He went to the now infamous basement — smelling smoky instead of mildewy — and turned off the furnace.  The fire crew left saying that we should have no more problems with smoke.  However, we realized that heat might be another matter.

On Sunday morning we took the girls to church while Dad stayed home to call the furnace repairman.  After our guests were off towards home, probably glad to get away from that dangerous family, the laundry was finished and the furnace repaired.  Linda and I seemed healthy and returned to the University.  All hoped peace would reign for a while in the Gilpin household.

On Monday morning, Mom left for work, glad to be done with the holiday and trusting all the disasters were behind her.  She came home to meet Dad for lunch and found the kitchen garbage disposal had backed up and quit.  The plumber was called again.

Three stomach bugs; one trip to the hospital; two plumbers called; one house fire; one flood; one appliance repairman; two scared house guests; one dead furnace; even one call to the morgue!  We have a lot to be thankful for.


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  1. So after posting this, we traveled to Cheyenne to be with my parents. On Thanksgiving morning my 91-year-old father fell and could not get up due to having no strength in his legs. We had to have an ambulance come to the house and take him to the hospital. He is OK now (Friday evening), but they are holding him until they can figure out why his legs lose strength occasionally. We still have a lot for which we can be thankful.

  2. Amazing….thanks for sharing & putting a smile on my face.

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