It was early on a Saturday morning as I stood in my small kitchen browning a large pot of ground beef. My mind was going at full speed as I planned out the day. It was going to be a busy one, but I was pleased I had gotten an early start.
I heard a knock on the door and couldn’t imagine who it might be. Emmanuel had already left for the university, and we only knew a few of our neighbors in our less-than-stellar St. Paul apartment building. I turned down the heat on the burner and set the spoon on the rest. I hurried to the door, anxious to get this interruption over with so I could get back to work.
I opened the door to find two men who were clearly some sort of workers. “Yes?” I said cautiously. “Can I help you?”
“Exterminators, ma’am. We are doing the whole building this morning.”
“Exterminators?” I said weakly.
“Yep. People have been complaining about the cockroaches so it’s time to spray again. You’ll have to leave for a couple of hours.”
I stared at them blankly. This couldn’t be happening. On today of all days.
“But I can’t leave. I’m having a party today and I have to finish the cooking.”
One of them shrugged. “You can say no, but just a word of warning. The cockroaches in the building tend to go to any place that hasn’t been sprayed.”
I gulped. “We’re moving pretty soon and I’ve already packed a lot of boxes. Do you think that’ll be a problem?”
Not unkindly they informed me that cockroaches like dark places and might find their way into my packed boxes. Great. But my mind was made up. I simply had to prepare for this party; there was no way around it. The two men kindly wished me luck and went on their way.
Even as the door was closing, I began to pray. “Lord, please, please, keep those cockroaches out of here!” Cockroaches give me the creeps; I couldn’t even bring myself to consider the possibility that in a few short weeks I might be transporting little cockroach families to my new apartment halfway across the country.
This day wasn’t turning out as I had imagined. Instead of sunshine and blue skies there was wind and rain. Thankfully, I had reserved a pavilion at the park, but it just wasn’t feeling like a party kind of day. Throw in the looming threat of a cockroach invasion and I felt like sinking onto my couch in despair. But I couldn’t. The ground beef was still sizzling, and at any rate my couch was covered with party supplies.
I had so wanted this day to be perfect. I was having a surprise graduation party for Emmanuel who, after six long years of research and study, was wrapping up his thesis, The Dynamical Structure Of The Pion (there is a copy in the school library if you would like to read it) and very soon would be taking his oral exams at the University of Minnesota. It wouldn’t be long before our yellow Ryder truck would be on its way to Amherst, MA where a job awaited him at UMASS.
My memory of the rest of that day is as cloudy as the weather, but the end of the day was captured in photos. Emmanuel and I, wearing rain gear, are standing in front of a large sign that says, “CONGRATULATIONS, EMMANUEL!” We are both looking a bit waterlogged and windswept, but our smiles say it all – we were happy. In spite of the weather, about 50 family and friends had turned out for the celebration and Emmanuel was absolutely surprised and delighted.
I can happily report that my wonderful Heavenly Father did in fact keep those cockroaches out of our boxes; nary a one was ever spotted in our new home. He is so kind. He cares about parties, and memories, and the desire of a young housewife to leave those cockroaches behind.