Thirty-two years ago.
Today was well, today. I spent the first of the morning sitting outside of my dad’s eye doctor while the doctor checked dad’s eye that he had somehow scratched. While it is much improved, he wanted dad to use a night salve to help keep it from drying. Which meant taking dad home, getting a bite to eat and then taking mom to get the medicines and what ever else she needed at the moment. A little later I was preparing my son’s favorite baked spaghetti as he was doing so much for everyone. He had taken his grandmother’s car to the place where he worked to check it over for her. He keeps an eye on it for her safety. That was why I was chauffeuring them about. Fine, you say, but what is the thirty-two year mention for? A memory, a moment in time, a fuse for growth.
What a memory. My son was only eight months old. I was working a job that had one of those schedules where you worked three days off four, switched to four days off three and somewhere in there was always a week off. I was in that week off period.
I had been doing something that I had up to that point not done. I was tracking a Hurricane named Hugo. I was watching all the maps and predictions and possibilities. On September twentieth, the weather prognosticators told everyone to batten down the hatches as we would possibly get some high winds. My husband was at work as he worked an afternoon shift at the bakery. He called just to chat on his break and asked what I was doing. When I told him I was putting away and securing anything that could be blown about he said something he never said afterwards. “It won’t come through here”. I shrugged, finished our conversation and then finished putting everything away.
I wish that I had done other things such as collect water in every possible container I possessed. I wish that I had gone and purchased batteries and non-perishable foods. But I didn’t because it was just supposed to be some high winds. We’re in the shadow of Charlotte, North Carolina USA. We were far enough inland that those storms at that intensity do not reach here. Were we ever in for a nightmare surprise.
I remember putting my son to bed at his usual time. I finished what I was doing, made sure that what was meant for my husband’s supper when he got home and then went to bed myself. I was exhausted from preparations so I barely recall him coming to bed. What woke me was when the radio that was softly playing on the head of the bed went silent. It came back momentarily, the fell silent not to come back. Then, I could hear the winds.
I got up and checked on my son, he was sleeping peacefully. I eased the door closed and walked through the dark house to the front door. It was very early in the morning. Two, three AM, I don’t recall, just that the darkness outside was very eerie. Yet, somehow I could see those big Oaks in the yard dancing crazily and bending nearly in half. The winds sounding like some demon from hell, shaking the house and howling on and on through the night. All night I paced, from the front door where I would peer out the small window, to my son’s bedroom. It was a wonder I didn’t wear a trench in the carpet.
By the time light finally began to appear, and we could step outside, we were able to see the disaster around us. But the miracles as well.
We had thirteen trees down around the house and yard. One in the front yard snapped in half but fell away from the house. Behind the house there were three trees of various size down, but not fully. All three had lodged in another tree stopping them from hitting the house. One behind our carport, one – the largest- behind the kitchen, and one- the scariest- behind my eight month old son’s bedroom. We had to get a tow truck out to pull the trees down in a way that they fell away from the house.
When we finally managed to clear a path out of the dirt road and try to reach a grocery store, they had been stripped clean. Feeling that trying to go anywhere else would be futile, we went back home. We had no electricity, no water, no batteries, but we did have our first gas grill. We could prepare what we did have in the freezer, we could heat the bottles from our son, we could hope the power we back soon. The search for ice began. It took days before we got word of a local ice plant having ice so we managed to join the line. Hoping for at least one bag.
We spent a week without power. My brother’s family two houses down, went two weeks. At that time his power came from one direction, ours from another. We found out that in the not too far away town where my paternal grandmother lived, my grandmother had electricity. In turns, we could go down, get a shower, fill up containers with water and do it all again.
After Hugo, it took me a long time to stop keeping a lot of nonperishable foods. I still have a small supply, but at that time, I looked like a survivalist. I will admit that when there are warnings of bad storms approaching that may cause power to be interrupted, I go into preparation mode. I fill up enough containers of water a family of eight would be supplied. There are only two of us here now me and my son. I do stock up for the critters as well. I make sure I have batteries. If it seems really bad, I fill the tub with water. I check my food supply, see that I have the various breads that may be needed. Are the cars filled with fuel? I make a list, and I check it twice, actually, I check it so many times the list falls apart. If it is winter and there may be the rare frozen stuff falling, I make sure I have dry firewood and matches.
I am preparing and prepared for what is being forecast. The storm that is coming, even as they may not be fully aware of the intensity. Even as they cannot say it won’t veer off in another direction or simply dissipate.
Thirty two years. I will say that for years, every time to winds began to kick up, I became terrified. I would sit and watch the trees go into this frenzied dance, swaying back and forth, crashing into each other, limbs falling. My heart would race, my breathing would be difficult, my nerves shot as I felt that night all over again. Tag it with what ever name you wish, it was all I could do to not crawl under my bed and hide.
Over the course of time, I have made a lot of changes. This past year especially. Hugo was a nightmare. Hugo taught us that what is considered impossible is possible. The things we believed could not happen, can happen, and will. That distance is not always a preventative. That preparation is important even when facing what seems unlikely.
I have learned to not fear the winds. I was reminded often by friends, that God did not give us a spirit of fear. That is not of Him. https://biblehub.com/2_timothy/1-7.htm
Over the past year, I have grown closer To God, stronger in my faith, more consistent in the following. In the times when I would feel the loneliness of grief, when the solitude brought on by the social distancing and the lack of a job would bring pain, I would be reminded. I would spend time speaking with God in prayer. When possible, I would be outside in what my son has called my thinking circle. It is my quiet place, even if the neighbors around me are enjoying life, even if the main roadway is busy, it is quiet there. Peace has filled me more during those time. I have found strength and courage I didn’t realize was mine. I know now. I know the gift that has been given to me, and to all who Follow. https://www.openbible.info/topics/fear_does_not_come_from_god
My point here, is that while so many prepare for approaching storms. They hurry to stock up on water, groceries, batteries, fuel for cars of generators. They make their lists and check them until they fall apart. Preparing for something that may or may not happen. Preparing for something that will only last for so long. Even if there is destruction. Whether it is hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flash flood, blizzard or any other natural disaster, it arrives, it strikes its blows and ends.
We pick up, we clean up, we repair and we go forward. This is the temporary. This is the earthly. That is this life. What of the next? Are we preparing for that? Are we seeking the One who holds eternity? Do we seek what He offers? The mercy, the saving grace, forgiveness, healing, peace, love?
The things of this world are but a moment in time. It is of utmost importance, that we prepare for a time that has no end.