In February of 1989, Steve got orders back to Germany and the girls and I were not happy. Kristie had wanted to graduate from a high school in the United States. She had been a freshman in Virginia, a sophomore in Kansas and now she would do her Junior and Senior years in Kaiserslautern. Holan’s school days in Germany had been terrible and I was not sure it would be a positive move with her learning disability. But the Rotchfords were heading back to Darmstadt so off we went. We were an hour and twenty minutes apart. Still closer than in the States but with the girl’s school work and activities, the guys work schedules it wasn’t like living in the same city, We got together as much as we could.
The Rotchfords came to Kaiserslautern for New Years Eve so the adults went out to the Officer’s Club for an evening of dining and dancing. Meanwhile, the girls stayed at the apartment, inviting a couple of Kristie’s friends to join them. Also joining the group was Ruffles, the Rotchford’s dog, a beautiful dalmatian. He was highly energetic, playful, good with children and fun to have around. Everyone played well together into the wee hours of the morning. One by one everyone dropped off to sleep. In the morning, the girls and adults started to stir.
Ruffles had taken over the recliner as his bed for the evening and was too tired to get up with the rest of us. LaDonna, who had enjoyed playing with Ruffles, went over to the recliner to give him a good morning hug. As she got close to him he growled. Instead of backing off LaDonna got right in his face and growled back at him. Not the smart thing to do. He reached over and sank his teeth into her nose. LaDonna’s parents were very understanding when they came to pick her up. They took off for the hospital, but did not have to wait too long before her nose was stitched up since she was already a patient. She was to have kidney surgery on January 2nd and was checked in ahead of time on the 28th.
Our next big outing, for the two families, was a two week trip to Spain. We loaded into the van and off we went. Lupe’s cousin had offered his summer home for us to use while we were there. It was a wonderful little house with a small yard and close to a lot of beaches. The only challenge we found was having eight people and only one bathroom. But as usual we all pulled together and got busy making memories of our time in Spain.
Even though we had a kitchen, most evenings we went out to a local restaurants for dinner. What better way of learning about a country than eating with the locals. For years, we had a seating plan when we entered a restaurant. There was plan A, B, C and D. The kind of day we had, how the girls were getting along, and how the tables were arranged went into which plan was used. Once inside, one of the adults would call out a letter. Everyone then took their places in an orderly manner. After so many years of traveling together, we found this to be the fastest way to get seated. There were never discussions about which plan had been chosen.
Every day but one we found a beach to visit, sometimes doing a repeat of ones we really liked. Holan ended up with sun poisoning with a rash, headach, fever and painful itching. Lupe went into the Spanish Pharmacy, explained about Holan’s sunburn, the pharmacist looked at it and in minutes we were out the door with a prescription. In Spain medications are readily available over the counter without a prescription.
One of the days we went into Barelona to lunch with another one of Lupe’s cousins. It was a huge meal of many courses and lots of wine flowing. The girls really enjoyed the free flowing wine. In Spain it is normal for the children to drink wine at meals. After lunch we took in some of the sights of Barcelona. This included La Sagrada Família a large unfinished Roman Catholic church.
One of our favorite stories about the girls was the day they took to the front yard with the water hose, razors and shaving cream. With only one small bathroom, it was impossible for all the girls to shave their legs before going to the beach. Next best thing? Do a group shaving party in the front yard.
Unfortunately, there are no photos of this very funny event. In fact, there aren’t really any pictures of this whole trip. Guess we were more into being in the moment and enjoying it instead of making sure we took pictures every five minutes.
On 2 August, we were watching Spanish TV while the girls were busy doing girl things. A special report came on about President Brush deploying US military to Saudi Arabia. As we sat there watching the screen, Lupe had to translate what we were seeing. The Iraqi Army had invaded and occupied Kuwait. The US troop deployment along with economic sanctions was soon followed by other countries creating the largest military alliance since World War II. Not being in contact with their units, the guys did not know what their status was. Should we pack up and head back to Germany or stay for the last few days of our vacation? It was decided to stay put and enjoy while would could. We knew this would be a change to our lives when we got back.
The next few months became a blur with all the military missions the guys had to do with the Gulf War. Fred ended up in Israel with the Patriot Missiles to help take down the Scud missiles being fired at them. His three day trip, which Steve assured Lupe it would only be three days, turned into something like three months. Steve ended up in Saudi Arabia for six months, with the mission to establish a base in Riyadh, coordinating with Saudi Agencies and the US Air Force. Meanwhile, Lupe and I held the family together in Germany, that is a story for another day.