Sunday, March 12, 2006

4:00 A.M. CAT CALLS

My alarm cat went off at 4:00 a.m. this dark Sunday morning (by dark, I don't mean dreary...I mean pre-sunrise). I find that my alarm cat is most often more accurate than my alarm clock, the only problem is that I can't program the alarm cat NOT to go off on the weekends. But, the good thing about the alarm cat is that it has an actual working brain, and it knows when I need get up, even if I don't know myself. Take this morning for instance...I really planned to get up early to call Korea this morning, but had my alarm cat not gone off, I would have slept through the opportunity, probably getting up at my usual 7:00 or 8:00 am, which is 10:00 or 11:00 pm in Korea and really too late to call and bother a resting soldier who hears reveille bright and early every morning. So, after throwing the alarm cat off the bed about three times, I wake up just enough to get out of bed, walk through the dark house with a large dark fur-ball following me, traipse through the kitchen into the laundry room to the back door and stand there with the door wide open to God and everybody while the alarm cat tries to decide if she really wants to go outside. After about five seconds, I make the decision for her and drop-kick her butt out the back door.

By the time I get back to bed, I look at the time on the actual alarm clock and, as always, my brain does a quick calculation to determine the time half way around the world, the current home of one of my heart-strings. It must be that once you become a mother, your brain is somehow tied to your children so tightly that you almost automatically know the exact time, date, barometric pressure, wind speed, and weather conditions surrounding your children at all times. Maybe that is why we instinctively know when one of our children are cold, whether they know it or not.

By the time I have made the trip to throw the alarm cat out the back door, I am wide awake. I log onto the computer and check to see if my soldier is online. This is our routine lately. I check for him online before making a call, just to see if he is available. No need to run up unnecessary international charges if he is in the middle of a poker game or working late on some special project or chatting online with his real friends (me whining "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine."). He answers right back that, yes, he is available and, yes, I can call him. He says he tried to call us but the Vonage phone he was using is out and his cell phone has been long dead and to please call on his roommates number. I dial that long stream of numbers and in seconds I hear his voice once again. Talking with him only once weekly, our conversations are long and sweet, the usual boring dribble of our mundane lives. He wants to know the boring things, the normal things that are happening back home while he is so far away. "How is so-and-so?" " Have you been to such-and-such a place lately?" " Did you-know-who get over the flu yet?" He mentions his fears that his friends won't be the same when he returns home again, and he is right. He will have changed and they will have stayed the same. And the truth is, he won't be calling here home for much longer. The longer he is away, the further away he drifts. This is not a bad thing, it is a normal thing that happens when children become adults. They tend to make some other place their home. It is what each parent ultimately strives for but at the same time absolutely dreads.

Sprout is doing good and is now counting down the days until his return to the states. I guess his military life will be a constant "counting of days" as he will always be somewhere else looking back, at least for a while. There will come a day when he will be home whereever he decides home is for him, and then our job as parents will be completely finished.

A sad but good day that will be.

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