Sunday, April 17

Scaredy-Pants Confession

This is on today's front page. The storms are not near me, but they still scare me.

My house got hit by a tornado on July1, 1997. A man watched it bounce off the lake and tear our house apart, while my dad was inside barely making it to safety. The rest of us were at a family reunion at Bluewater Bible Camp. I'll never forget watching, one by one, my relatives leaving the chapel. I looked back and my aunt was waving at me through the window, motioning for me to come outside. She said something happened back at home, and that my mom wanted to talk to me. We walked to the chapel basement, and my family was sitting in a circle, while my mom was crying on a couch. It was creepily, awkwardly quiet, and some of my family was whispering to each other. I prepared for the worst. She told me our house got hit and that everything was okay, and going to be okay. Being nine years old, there are not a lot of things that have happened in your life that impact you very much. I had nothing to compare this to, and was clueless on exactly what had happened. But from the energy going on, and all of the tears, I knew it was a big deal and was making a lot of people sad and upset.
That night, my mom held me, while I was crying, for what seemed like forever, on the camp's main office's floor, staring at the phone on the wall, waiting for my dad to call. I don't remember him calling. I just remember sitting there, in my mom's arms, bawling my eyes out while she told me that it was all okay and dad was safe.
Dad told us to not come home ... that we should stay at camp for the rest of the week and come home later. That was not going to happen. He looked surprised, relieved, and so happy to see us pull up to, what was left of, our house. It just so happened that a husband and wife, friends of my parents who were also at camp the same time we were, were driving by our hometown that day. So they offered to drive us home. I remember coming around the corner, pulling into the driveway, and parking on the grassy hill that people used as our parking lot when the driveway got too full. We hopped out of the car, and my dad, with tears streaming down all of our faces by now, hugged us all and told us he loved us. One side of our house's roof was sitting up on the hill and there was glass, wood, and stuff everywhere. It was a cloudy, windy day ... a sad-looking day. Yet there were people all over, helping clean up and moving stuff out of the house to storage.

Dad's side of the story:
He said it was a weather-creepy day; the kind of day where you know a storm is going to hit. It had been super muggy and hot, and by late afternoon the sky was starting to turn that greenish storm-looking color.  Dad was talking on the phone with my aunt at the time, when the line went dead. The empty jetski lift sitting on our beach lifted up and started tumbling and somersaulting, ending up out of sight at a house about five lots down. The windows began flexing, in and out a couple of inches, and rain started pouring in through the cracks. My dad heard the roof creaking, ran down the stairs as far as he could, and positioned himself a few steps above the last. He had to grab onto the railing with one hand and place the other hand on the opposite wall, holding himself down so he wouldn't be lifted up. He looked behind him and up at what used to be the ceiling and what was now a black sky with rain pouring in. Dad told me that when he was kneeling down, he could feel the wind swirling around him, and could feel people praying for him. I get the chills every time I think about it. He then got up and attempted to get into my brother's room. This room was next to the 3-season porch, and one wall of it was basically a window. Because of the pressure, dad couldn't get the door opened. He now says that if he would have forced it, all of the windows would have most likely shattered (our 3-season porch was two stories, completely covered with windows). He ran out through the basement door, over to our neighbors who were sitting in their basement with no idea that a tornado had just ripped apart our house. They had only lost a few shingles (their house was maybe 10 meters away from our house). My dad said that people all of a sudden started arriving at the house, helping move stuff out. He hadn't called anyone for assistance. People from the church, who had just been out to see the damage of the storm, grabbed clothes, books, pictures, dishes, and anything they could fit into their cars.
The tornado ripped off the lake-side roof of our house. There was a tree on the road-side, directly next to our house which had pushed the road-side roof back down onto the house. Two pieces of drywall fell directly over two of my parent's most prized possessions: the piano and the grandfather clock. We had a tuner come in to fix the piano, and I believe only one or two notes needed fixing.

 Just proves that God is real, and that family is what is most important. He kept my dad safe and alive.

Some of our photos were damaged, but I still have all of my baby pictures and everything from when I was growing up. Stuff was scattered across the street, all over the field and pond. Yet, we managed to pretty much save everything besides furniture. The house was remodeled and expanded within a year. The five of us became pretty cozy after living on the first floor of our friend's house on the lake, which they rented out. Us three kids shared one room, while my parents  were in the other, and we all shared one bathroom. Life was hectic, but I only remember fun times from that place. My family means so much to me, and although we don't see each other or stay in contact as much as I would like, they are still the most important people to me and I never want to experience something like this again.

This storm has affected me immensely. Living on the North side of the lake, it was usually pretty windy. When it got dark and windy, I would try to make everyone go and sit in the basement. I remember hearing tornado warnings, or being woken up to my parents running downstairs and turning on the TV with the News' beeping warnings. I would have to look outside, and then sit by the wall, shivering with my hands over my ears. One time I was mini-golfing and a tornado touched in our county, so our sirens went off, even though the sun was still shining where we were. I dropped the golf club and drove home as fast as I could so I could be with my home-alone dog.

I hate tornadoes, and any tornado-like weather. It's scary knowing something that is capable of destroying anything, including taking lives, is completely out of control and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

peace and love.

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