This Is It

I have come to accept John’s limitations in the area of daily communication.  However, I have always hoped that in a crisis, he might somehow miraculously develop the ability to say what he means.  The storm last weekend proved that whether the circumstances are mundane or life-and-death, he will never change.

We had been hearing the weather forecasters tell us for days that the conditions on Saturday were going to be extremely volatile, but in Kansas, we tend to develop an unhealthy disdain for storm warnings.  The average Sunflower State resident will experience hundreds, if not thousands, of tornado warnings and watches over a lifetime without ever experiencing a tornado up close and personal.  Familiarity really does breed contempt, but that all changed for us around 10:00 p.m.

A very potent EF3 or EF4 tornado passed by just a few miles north of us Saturday afternoon.  John was glued to the radar, and we both went outside several times to watch the clouds roll in and ascertain the path of the approaching storm.  We listened to the damage reports, gave thanks that no one was injured, and went on with our routine activities, which for me included picking asparagus.

That evening I was in the kitchen cleaning the asparagus when John wandered in about 9:30 and said in a rather casual voice, “I think we need to go to the trailer.”  Everyone knows that a mobile home is the last place you should choose as a refuge during inclement weather, but our house doesn’t have a basement and our trailer does.  I know it sounds weird, but since the entire southern exposure of our house is made of glass, the trailer is the safest place during a storm.  I put the asparagus in the refrigerator and was cleaning up around the sink when John said less casually, “I mean we need to go NOW!”  I grabbed my dog, Champ, along with my purse and my shoes and wished my resident meteorologist had given me enough warning to pack my computer, my iPad, and the rest of the dogs.

We were in the basement of the trailer less than 10 minutes when the electricity went out, and the howling wind turned into a deafening roar.  Dust started to swirl where the basement wall connected with the floor of the trailer just above our heads, and I began to wonder when the roof was going to disintegrate.  At this moment John said what could have been his last words to me, “I think this is it.”  Really?  What exactly did he think “it” was?  Was “it” the tornado, our imminent death, or both.  Either way I had imagined our final moments together might have included his profession of eternal love or the selfless act of shielding me with his body.  Of course I didn’t do either of those things for him, but I was on the phone with our son, John, and it would have been rude to put him on hold.

Fortunately, we had very little property damage, but we lost around 50 trees.  Many of them were enormous cottonwoods that had been around for decades.  As we spent the next day cleaning up all the debris from the storm, I marveled at how John took charge of the situation.  Whether he was moving trees with the tractor, running a chainsaw, or directing the neighbors and relatives who came to help, he was able to bring some order to the chaos all around us.  That was when I knew his inability to articulate his feelings or make symbolic gestures didn’t matter.  What matters is his constancy in good times and bad.  Yes, I think this is it!

One Response to “This Is It”

  1. GingerLewman says:

    Awe, that brought tears to my eyes.

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