The 1970’s changed the landscape of American history with many disturbing events. Much of that era’s moments have been forgotten, which for some may be a good thing. Unfortunately, during those tumultuous times, we also faced a gasoline shortage.
I’m one woman who doesn’t care to repeat that decade. Why? In 1974, my girlfriend and I, both in our early twenties, were each pregnant for the first time. Our husbands thought we were the most worrisome of women. They failed to comprehend the unknown road we traveled, laden with numerous threats beyond our control. To me, every woman who’s ever been pregnant is a survivor of the original fear factor.
Neither of us lived near our families. Our husbands played basketball, softball, tennis, and golf together. Naturally, we turned to each other for companionship and moral support. The bond of friendship between us gals was based on adult activities. The depth of our intimacy was nurtured by each episode of vomiting, the daily tally of trips to the bathroom, and by comparing swollen ankles. While the guys played, we worked… at consuming pasta, ice cream, chips, and chocolate… but not always in that order.
As March approached it drew us nearer to our due dates while beckoning our husbands farther from us. Dee, a year old and a few weeks more pregnant than me, became my mentor. She explained the irresponsible behavior of our husbands to me, but offered no solutions. The closest hospital to our rural town was twenty minutes east. The nearest golf course was also twenty minutes away, but it was west of town. The country roads didn’t have telephone booths. Answering machines and mobile phones weren’t invented yet. Since the guys couldn’t check-in with us, we insisted they drive together and leave us a vehicle at all times.
As the government often does, it muddied the waters of our bliss with the gasoline crisis. Gas stations were miles away; the lines were miles long. We begged the guys to leave us the car with the most gasoline. If it was too close to their tee-off time, we knew which car was left behind.
One brisk evening, the guys were really late. I had spent the day at Dee’s since she had the car. When the guys walked in, she gave her husband an evil look. Glancing at my husband, I tried to duplicate “the look.” He smiled back at me.
“Sweetie pie, I knew you’d rather me be late than come home without a full gas tank. We’ve spent almost two hours waiting to fill-up. Tomorrow the stations are only allowed to sell a few gallons per customer. I was thinking about you and the baby.”
Young love. Flattered, without saying good-bye to Dee, I grabbed my purse and we left for home.
Three o’clock in the morning, the telephone rang. With no bedroom phone, my husband had to jump out of bed and go answer it. Faintly, I heard him saying, “You’re kidding. How could you be so stupid? Did you really think you could get away with it? No, I didn’t know. Fine. Let me get dressed.”
Nervously I asked, “Who was it? What’s wrong? Why are you getting dressed?”
Disgusted he answered, “Paul. He ran out of gas half-way down his driveway. Dee’s in labor. I’m getting dressed to take your girlfriend and her thoughtless husband to the hospital!”
Quickly I started getting dressed. “How did she become my girlfriend when you introduced me to them?”
“Because we’re going to use the gasoline I waited two hours for. On top of that, this could put us in a bind if you go into labor! Plus, a nor’easter is headed our way. The doctor told Dee it’s already snowing at the hospital. You’re not going out in this weather.”
“And if I go into labor? Here, alone?”
“Then grab blankets and food. Thanks to Paul’s laziness, anything could happen. Hopefully we won’t have to deliver their baby, or ours.”
When I think back to that night, I cannot help but ponder the story Jesus told of the ten virgins with ten oil lamps in Matthew 25:1-13. Five quickly filled and trimmed their lamps, then waited for the bridegroom. Five waited first, without oil, and missed out.
With the Lord’s return so near, we have more at stake than a tank of gas, or the fear of giving birth on a snowy country road. The time to prepare for His return is now.
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