Monday, November 17, 2008

When Your Husband Travels

My daughter in law's sister wrote a blog recently about how things go wrong whenever her husband leaves on a business trip. It seems that every time he takes off, her children get sick. Normally I detest anything that reeks of one-upmanship, but it reminded me of a story from my younger married days, and I couldn't resist. Marrianne, this one's for you.

Working in telemetry on the missile program for the Department of Defense, you could loosely call my husband a rocket scientist. He flew all over the place, leaving me at home with the three boys frequently. Since there were nearly four years between each of our sons, it was normally chaotic, with each of them needing something different from the only parent available. During their school years, they were usually at three separate schools, three separate ball fields. I used to joke that I needed to have either an out of body experience or an out of mind experience. 

The most devastating of John's business trips for me, emotionally, came on one of his flights to a missile base in Hawaii. John woke up early and took the bus to Los Angeles International Airport. From there he was to catch his flight to Hawaii. John is not a really talkative man. Back then he was downright silent. He'd be gone for a couple of weeks, and during that time, we'd never hear from him. This was before cell phones. 

As it happened, John arrived at LAX early and managed to catch an early flight.  He didn't bother to inform the base that he wasn't on his scheduled flight, nor did he let me know. He just saw an opportunity to leave early and took it. Upon landing, he took an inter-island flight to Kauai, where he rented a car and checked in at his hotel, pleased to discover he had enough time to take a couple hours nap before reporting for duty at the missile test site. Consequently, he wasn't aware that the plane he was scheduled to arrive on had crashed while landing and not everyone survived. People were looking for him.

I heard about the crash on television. Knowing it was his plane, I called the base. They couldn't tell me anything. His name was not on the list of survivors. We all sat by the phones for about three hours. I was hysterical, crying and praying. John finally woke up, shaved and got into his rental car. Upon arriving at the test site, he caused quite a stir. They had him call the base, and then me. What did I do? Well, I yelled at him, of course!

That was the last trip John ever took without calling to let me know he had arrived safely. 

2 comments:

Kathleen said...

February 24, 1989

A United Airlines plane made an emergency landing at Honolulu after a section of the Boeing 747 fuselage tore off in mid-flight. The flight originated in Los Angeles and was destined for Sydney, Australia, with stops in Honolulu and Auckland. The plane landed safely at HNL. Nine people were swept from the plane. One attendant and 20 of the 336 passengers were injured. All passengers were eventually accounted for.

Ri said...

What a story! I always want John to let me know when he arrives, and he's usually good about it. One time he flew on Dirk's private jet and they were so busy talking (no downtime waiting at airports when flying airdirk), he never called and I worried the entire time. Jetliners make the news immediately, small plane crashes might take a while to make headlines!
I'm glad your John wasn't on that original flight. What a blessing that was!