Maybe it was an omen. Maybe it was just plain bad luck. But things didn't go smoothly for Terry and Allan Gillenwater after they arrived for a new life in Southern California on Christmas Eve.
First, their dog was badly cut, and they spent the 24th in a veterinary clinic while the pooch was undergoing surgery. Then, they woke up Christmas morning to find that their U-Haul truck, with just about everything they own, had been stolen from outside their Buena Park hotel room.
It Could Be Worse
"Everything bad has happened. We don't know if that's a bad sign or what," Terry Gillenwater said Saturday.
But the Gillenwaters are taking their misfortune in stride and, while appreciative of the attention, they asked that people not fuss over their loss.
"There are people who are worse off, who don't even have each other," she said. "At least we have each other."
The couple arrived from Colorado at the Travelers Inn in Buena Park on Christmas Eve. That night, Bandy, their Australian sheep dog, was cut by broken glass, and the Gillenwaters ran around looking for a veterinarian who could save their pet.
The next morning, Allan was taking a shower when Terry popped her head in and asked, "Honey, did you move our truck?"
"He thought I was joking," she said.
But it was no joke. The 24-foot truck with all their furniture, Terry's pile of just-typed resumes, her family's mementos and "everything, everything we owned," was gone.
Buena Park police said the truck, which had a Maryland license plate, had not been found as of Saturday.
"If I could just get my receipts and paper work in there, I would be thrilled," said Terry Gillenwater, a 33-year-old bookkeeper. Most of the paper work and "all kinds of sentimental things," such as her father's award plaques, are irreplaceable, she said.
Left with only a car, a dog and two suitcases filled with clothes, the couple said they will reconsider their move to California. Although Allan, a 35-year-old carpenter, already has obtained a job in Redondo Beach, the two may decide next week to head elsewhere.
The thief who stole the Gillenwaters' Christmas ruined more than one holiday.
"We'll be married three years New Year's Eve, so happy anniversary too," Terry Gillenwater said.
But things could be worse, she insisted.
"Oh, well, life has gone on," she said. "There are people who don't have anything. At least we have each other. We can make it."