During my assignment to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, I often would wake up at 0530 in the morning to put on my gym clothes and run to the barracks to participate in morning exercise. Since I lived close to my unit, I would run back to my quarters to shower and eat before returning back to duty. On one particular morning I had returned to shower when I was met by my wife at the door.
"My mother just called. My Aunt Mary Lou has just been put in the hospital. The doctors do not expect her to live for more than a couple of days. Could you ask your commander if they would allow you to take emergency leave so that I could visit her?"
My wife had tears in her eyes and I knew that among all of her relatives, her Aunt Mary Lou was her dearest aunt. I told her that I would see what I could do and turned and ran back to the company. I met my commander in his office and explained my situation.
Lieutenant Colonel Dubik was a fair man, but limited by military regulations. He thought for a moment and said, "Your aunt is not part of your extended family so I cannot authorize emergency leave. But I will allow you to take immediate leave to see her, but you will have to pay for the transportation."
I agreed and after thanking him I turned and ran back to my quarters. When I arrived, my wife was talking on the phone. When she hung up, I told her what the commander had said. She was already dressed for her job and said, "I just talked to my boss and he said I could come in and sign out for leave to go to Georgia. While I am gone, could you sign out and buy the airplane tickets?"
I said I could do that after ten o'clock in the morning when the duty office personnel came back from breakfast and finished their morning reports. My wife then told me that there were leftovers in the refrigerator if I was hungry and that she had to leave to sign out. After she left, I walked into the kitchen and pulled the leftovers from the refrigerator. The sink had a bunch of dirty silverware in it so I grabbed a fork, rinsed it off, and haphazardly placed the rest of the silverware in the dishwasher. I then went into the dining-living room, turned on the television and sat down at the dining room table. I had my back to the television, and as was my habit, I had the set tuned to Headline News (I would listen to the news every morning as I ate breakfast). Every thirty minutes, the news would recycle and begin again, and I noted that the news had just begun to recycle. This was my cue that it was ten o'clock and I hurriedly finished the food on my plate. It was at this time that I felt someone move behind me and I heard dishes being moved around in the kitchen. Thinking that my wife had forgotten something and had returned (she had only been gone for fifteen minutes), I called out, "Honey, is that you?" Silence only answered my question. I did not want my wife to start the dishwasher without giving me the chance to place my dirty dishes in first, so I hurriedly grabbed my silverware and walked into the kitchen. Nobody was in the kitchen and I noted after glancing out the window that my wife's car was not around. Stranger still, the dishwasher was left open and a dishtowel had been spread out on the counter. Someone had taken the silverware out of the dishwasher and placed them on the towel. They had also been separated by knives, forks, and spoons. I searched the house for any signs of someone else being in the apartment. I was by myself and only noted that because the front door was unlocked, someone must have walked in unnoticed, walked by me while I was eating, and separated the silverware. When my wife returned, I asked, "Do the neighbors sometimes walk in without you knowing about it and borrow stuff?"
"No, they never do that. Why?"
"Oh nothing, I just thought that someone might have walked in while you were gone. It must've been my imagination."
Nothing more was said and we spent the rest of the day packing and preparing for our flight to Georgia. We caught a flight later that same evening and arrived in Georgia early the next morning. Sadly, we learned that Aunt Mary Lou had already died. Three days later we attended her funeral. After the funeral, I met my wife's brother and asked him when his aunt had died.
"Oh, she died around four o'clock in the afternoon," He replied.
"That's a strange coincidence," I stated.
"Why?" he asked.
I then told him about the strange events that I witnessed the day of her death.
"That's not much of a coincidence, she died at four o'clock. Your events happened at ten o'clock," he said.
I mentioned, "But don't you see, ten o'clock Hawaii time is four o'clock Georgia time!"
"Still," he said, "I don't see any relation between your story and Aunt Mary Lou's death."
I admitted that it was a broad stretch to pry any meaning from the two seemingly unrelated events.
"Did you tell Kathleen? He asked.
"No, I figured she had too much on her mind."
Several days later, we had just finished eating supper at her parent's house. Kathleen's family and I were sitting around the table and Kathleen was in the kitchen loading the dishwasher. That's when she begun to cry.
"What's the matter? I asked.
"Oh nothing... I was just remembering the first time that Mary Lou bought a dishwasher. Remember, Mom, how she could never get her dishes clean?"
"I remember." Her mom said, "She kept overloading the machine."
"I know" Kathleen said, "I remember having to teach her how to load it. She really liked the trick I showed her about loading the machine. She always mentioned to me how ingenious it was whenever she met me."
"What trick are you talking about?" Both her brother and I asked this question at the same time.
"Well, I taught her to separate her silverware on a dishtowel before placing them in the dishwasher. When you put them in, put each separate class in its own tray. Then when the dishwasher is done cleaning, all you have to do is grab a handful of silverware and place them directly into the drawer tray without having to separate them. She really liked that idea!"
Kathleen must have noticed the look of astonishment on my face.
"Why, what's wrong?" She asked.
I then related my story to everyone. This caused my wife to break down and cry again. I said I was sorry, but my wife only said, "It's okay. I think Mary Lou was just trying to say good-bye to me in her own way since I was unable to see her before she died."
I have never looked at a dishwasher in the same way since this incident.