Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rough Start, Great Finish (part 1)

Day 8*Part1

4:30am

Woken by the sound of the screaming wind.

4:45am

I walked the dark rooms of Grandma's house with only the light of my cell phone - the electricity was off. Grandma was asleep, unaware of the storm pressing upon us. Her dog, however, was hiding under the table. She knew. I decided not to go back to sleep until it was over, in case it turned into something worse.

5:00am

I knew that the fury outside was more than a run-of-the-mill Midwestern rain storm. I thought, perhaps, it was becoming a
I prayed. I asked for safety for Neoga and for guidance for me, the person responsible for Grandma and the kids should the rage find us. I immediately felt comfort. I knew that whatever happened, we were going to remain safe. I knew it.

Moments after the comfort washed over me, my bedroom door clicked open. In walked two frightened children. They didn't have to say it, it was written in boldface capitals across their faces: TORNADO.

All of the kids cuddled around me on the bed. We sang songs, we told jokes. No sooner would I quell their fears however, and the wind would howl and the debris would rattle the windows, and their little faces would look uncertain again. Finally, after employing my most light-hearted talk, most authoritative opinion, and most reassuring solace, they calmed down.

Mothering managed, it was time to do some granddaughtering. I left the kids cuddling on the bed and headed back into the darkness to check on Grandma. It was well past dawn, but no light entered through Notus' robe. It was dark as pitch, despite the breakfast hour. Before I had crossed the kitchen to find Grandma, I found something else instead. Quietly stealing behind me were my three children. As calm as they had been with me sitting beside them on the bed, their peace had dissipated with my removal. So, as a crowd of nervously quipping Kobialka's, we sought out Grandma.

We found her looking for her walker, surprised that the electricity was off, and apparently unaware of the warring winds without. Within a few minutes the last tirading squall ran mockingly through the town in disbanded retreat, ready to rest and recuperate for another day's squabbles.

The storm was over. Light gradually crept it's way back into the my Grandma's house, and as it did, the night's terror became the day's excitement.

While we waited for the power to be restored, we ate donuts in the dark and played a few games of checkers by the dim light of persistent sunbeams.
Grandma loves to play checkers (maybe because she is so good at it!), and we each took turns playing with her. While it was my turn, the kid experimented with the camera. I hate to gloat, but I simply must show off
After donuts and checkers, we moved onto games of
When one gets dressed with only the light of a cell phone, one may find themselves interestingly clad later.
When the rain had subsided we headed out to check out the damage. Even though it was 8:30 in the morning, it was still dark. (You can see that my flash provides the light in the following pictures.) Entering the post-storm world, this was the view from Grandma's door of the
On Grandma's short block alone, there were 4 large limbs blocking the street.
From the driveway of the neighbor's across the street, this is a view of
While I snapped these few shots, Mayzie was
Within minutes, we were joined by the volunteer
And right behind them were the officials from Neoga and all of the neighboring towns,
I had spent the wee morning hours convincing my kids that they were safe and that it had not been a tornado, but just high winds, not dissimilar to what we have in our own Monsoon storms at home. When Grandma's caretaker stopped by to check on her (and really, to check up on me and make sure that I was up to the job of taking care of Grandma for a week, I think), she unravelled my words. I hinted, saying, "My kids were pretty scared. They thought a tornado was rolling through Neoga. I reassured them that it was just a windy storm. " I nodded and winked. The caretaker, obviously not catching on, said, "NO! That was no windy storm, honey. That was a TORNADO!" She meant well. But I knew then and there that if the wind picked up for two minutes for the rest of this trip, my kids would be worried. She went on to explain how it had travelled right up such-and-such street, and how so-and-so's brand new truck was destroyed, and who-de-who's porch had been ripped off.

Grandma's house had by some miracle gone untouched by twister's hands. Clearly,
Or maybe it wasn't luck at all. I can't deny the peace that had washed over me, nor the certainty that all would be well after my prayer that morning. We were more than lucky. We were protected; we were blessed.

Of course the kids wouldn't leave me alone about wanting to go see the damage, but we were committed to stay with Grandma, and it would wait. We kept to viewing the destruction within a two minute walk from Grandma's (which in Neoga, is about 1/3 of the town). This is what we found.
Align Center

I wish I had taken pictures of that down tree from another angle. The part you pictured is about 1/3 of the width of the trunk. It split it down the side and the smaller part is what you see laying horizontally in this photo, the other 2/3 of this ancient tree remained standing. To give you an idea of how large the old tree had been, here is a closer photo of the broken part. Just this part is about as big around as two of me.
When I was little and growing up in Mesa, AZ, we had so many hummingbirds around our neighborhood. When the monsoon winds would come and rage, I used to find several of them dead in the yard after every big storm. I remember crying over their poor little lifeless bodies and being scolded for bringing one in the house in hopes of healing it. While walking the streets of Neoga with Mayzie, we found this sad victim.
I thought we would have to put her in a jar with flowers. She sat on my hand for several minutes after I picked her up from the grass. She was very still nestled there as we walked. Then, unexpectedly, she just took off fluttering into the sky. Mayzie and I marvelled. For some reason it was a moment of profound truth to me. This damaged butterfly with it's wings half torn and missing could still fly. That damaged butterfly with it's wings half torn and missing inspired me to do the same.

Read Day 8*Part 2 to learn the Great Finish to this Rough Started day.

4 comments:

kchristner said...

I can't believe how long it's been since I've seen your grandmother! But her house still looks just like I remember. :)

Elena said...

Oh my goodness! I had NO idea you guys got to participate in a "really windy storm"! WOW! That is something. So glad you were protected and came out unscathed. Even Vanbi....whew!!

Heidi said...

I liked this one Trish. Your writing is musical. I love it.

Cherie said...

Wow! That is one none of you will ever forget! How scary!
That trampoline all twisted up like that is insane!

Glad you all were fine. The pictures with Grandma playing checkers are priceless!

P.S. LOve your new profile photo :D

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