If you know me personally, you know that I am a bit of a super-hyper-anal, type AAA, neat freak. This personality trait has morphed and shown itself in many different ways and in many different areas throughout my life. For example, when I look back at pictures of mine and Bill’s first home together, I immediately notice there are stacks of mail on the counters and piles of magazines beside the chair. I am appalled by this clutter, but then I also remember that every other day I scrubbed our kitchen floor on my hands and knees with a small scrub brush. You will be pleased to know that I now mop our kitchen floor like a normal person, but I try my darndest to keep clutter to a minimum. See, super-hyper-anal—just in different ways at different periods in my life. If we didn’t have two children, I would probably still be scrubbing my kitchen floor Cinderella style!
One of the side effects of my super-hyper-analness is that I expect other people to conform to my crazy standards. For example, I expect my husband to put his dirty clothing in the laundry hamper instead of merely leaving it on the floor where he, quite literally, just walked out of it. In case you are wondering, wadding it up in a ball and “hiding” it between the wall and the night stand does NOT count. This has been the cause of more than a few arguments over the course of 12 years of marriage. I would like to pause right here and say that I love my husband more than anything in the world. We have been through our ups and downs, but we have conquered them together and came out victorious on the other side. In fact, I would dare to say we are even stronger than before for having banded together and overcome the obstacles that sought to destroy us.
But, no matter what we have overcome, we still have one mutual enemy…dirty socks. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that he apparently suffers from a genetic abnormality that prohibits him from placing dirty socks in the laundry hamper, or, for that matter, even realizing he has left his dirty socks in the middle of the floor in the first place. I have literally watched the man STEP OVER his dirty socks but not even acknowledge they are there. This used to leave me fussing and fuming because, like my husband, I too must have a genetic abnormality. Mine, however, leaves me unable to keep silent when this occurs. Thus the silly arguments over cotton foot coverings.
A few days ago, however, my view of dirty socks was forever changed. I was talking to a very dear friend of mine, probably my best friend at this stage, time, and geographic location in my life, and she was saying that when her husband gets home (her husband is deployed also) she won’t even complain about his dirty socks laying in the middle of the floor. Because dirty socks in the middle of the floor mean that her husband is home to wear them and throw them wherever he chooses. It doesn’t matter anymore, because dirty socks on the floor simply mean they are home safely.
I really took those words to heart. The thing that had been the bone of contention for us for many, many years is now something I am longing for more than anything. A few days before that conversation with my friend, my husband called to tell me that he was okay, but there had been a close call after what he described as an “interesting” few days. En route to another camp, they had encountered heavy enemy fire and were in a 2 day firefight, basically. At some point in this expedition, a truck had gotten stuck, and my husband being the guy he is, he jumped out of his vehicle to help get the truck un-stuck. He got back in his truck and went on about his day. About an hour later he got the report that, apparently, he had been standing on an IED. This was discovered because a truck followed his tracks and drove over them, assuming the area to be safe. The back end of the truck was blown up when it ran over the deeply buried IED. No one was injured, just mentally shook up. A thousand scenarios ran through my head after hearing this news. Very few men survive stepping on an IED, and, if they do, they have no need for socks after doing so. I thank God so much for keeping his hand on my husband. My husband could have jumped down out of the truck a little harder, but he didn’t. The IED could have been buried closer to the surface, but it wasn’t. The driver of the truck could have been killed or injured after following my husband’s tracks, and my husband would have carried the weight of his death on his shoulders for eternity, but that did not occur.
After receiving that phone call, I did not hear from my husband again for almost 3 days. Not long in the most general sense, but, when waiting to hear that your husband is still alive with all of his extremities intact, it seems like forever. I prayed continually, every day. I am sure other drivers thought I was a crazy person as they saw my lips moving, speaking to a God they may or may not know, as I passed them on the street. As I rocked my children to sleep, I was constantly praying aloud for safety for my husband. In the shower, cooking dinner, all the time, I was in constant prayer. Then he called. It was such a relief to hear his voice. I love him so much, and I just want him to come home safely.
He didn’t have much time to talk, but I made sure he knew that things would be different when he came home. We have a really good relationship, so he was a bit confused at first. Then I told him the conclusion at which my best friend had helped me arrive. Dirty socks mean our husbands are home, and I would never complain about the dirty socks ever again. Now, I know that will be hard to stick to when he’s been home a while and I am always picking them up. I also know that, just to test me, he will totally capitalize on my promise to cheerily pick up off the floor and personally escort his dirty socks to either the laundry hamper or directly to the washer, depending on their degree of funkiness. But, at this point, I really don’t care. I would give anything for those dirty socks…because I wholeheartedly love the man who wears them.