It is summer time, school is out. Today started out much like every day. Dad was up early, getting ready to go to work. The older boys were up going to town with dad, they had lawns to mow. It seemed cooler this morning than ordinary and was overcast outside, you know the in between of cloudy and foggy. I was about 10 or 11 years old I guess, must have been because I remember Cindy was a toddler. As usual, mom was as busy as a beaver. Although we had hard wood floors in the old farm house, they were hard wood when hard wood wasn’t in style. Much like our jeans with patches in the knees and not wearing any socks. I guess we were just born about 45 years too early for that to be acceptable. Anyway, as mom swept the floors she also mopped them. She would bring the water hose into the house and with a broom would sweep the soapy water out the front door, off the tall cement porch. The porch must have been at least two feet tall. Dad made a wooden step to get onto the porch, because it was just too high not to have one. Getting back to my story though, as mentioned earlier the weather just seemed a bit off. As the morning went by, probably about mid-morning, mom shut the front door because the wind had started to blow, and she didn’t want sand on her clean floors. It wasn’t long after that that the wind picked up and started to howl throughout the old house, windows were rattling, screens were shaking, and the thunder sounded like the sound barrier went off inside the house. Mom opened the door to look out and what was seen was a monstrous looking cloud of the likes I have never seen and haven’t seen since. It was dipping so low, it was as if you could reach up and touch it. The clouds were so vividly purple they were nearly black with gray ropes hanging all around. They looked like spidery webs racing by to stare at me for a second and then be off. The lightening was shown clearly in what was supposed to be broad daylight, except it was more like midnight outside. Mom, alone with four small kids says, “We have to go to the cellar, this storm is going to blow us away, grab some blankets and let’s go, NOW”. Mom went out first, with Cindy wrapped up, Rodney’s little seven-year-old hand had a hold of little brother Randy, pulling him along. The cellar was at least four hundred feet from the house, but we made it there. The wind was blowing so hard we could hardly go forward much less run. I remember making it to the cellar first and trying to lift the door. The door was just too heavy, I couldn’t lift it alone. Mom quickly has Rodney sit on the ground with Cindy and Randy and together we try to lift the heavy door to the cellar. The wind was blowing against us so hard and the rain and hail were pelting us into oblivion, but with all our might and my mother straining her little body in that rain soaked dress, we could not get into the cellar. The ominous clouds drew closer and closer, until one had to visualize a higher power, without a doubt. Mom reached down for Cindy, picked her up and jerked Randy by his little hand and started back to the house. “Charles Dean, hold on to your brother, we have to get back to the house”. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we made it to the house. The screen door was flapping like paper in the wind, slamming shut, opening with a vengeance. We made it into the house, not without wear and mother made us crawl under the beds. The hail fell harder and harder against the old house. Being isolated under the bed, everything is amplified, and we hear a break in the kitchen, the kitchen window just got knocked out by the hail and the wind blew everything around in the kitchen it could touch. What seemed like forever was finally squelched when my dad walked into the house and told us to get out from under the beds. The storm had started subsiding enough for him to make it home. I remember him yelling at us, “Why didn’t you go to the cellar”? Mom, in her unmistakable voice said, “Kenneth we couldn’t open the door, I just couldn’t get in”? We were all a mess, Rodney visibly shaking as was my dad, but he dares not admit he was afraid, although he had a morbid aversion to climate change. The kitchen indeed looked as though a cyclone had gone through it, glass was strewn across the kitchen table and floor as were a few other things. The older boys, Buddy and Kenneth were still in town, I don’t remember where they weathered the storm, perhaps in the court house basement. Once the storm had passed, we went outside to find what could have possibly been a war zone. There was hardly a leaf left on any plant, with many limbs hanging limply as they were not strong enough to fight nature. It is as if winter had come by for a visit, skipping fall all together, except it was warm outside. We and the old farm house weathered another storm, save a few windows and the television antenna turned all the way around. There were deep eroded ruts in the road and the bar ditches were full of water. It wasn’t long until dad had engineered a pulley on the north side of the cellar door that made it easier to open, making sure this didn’t happen again was one of his few signals of love. It was only a few days before greenery started to reappear and soon outside looked again like it was supposed to. I will never forget that day, nor the fright in the eyes of my little brothers and sister. Nor will I forget the fierce instinct of a mother taking care of her children and a father showing a vulnerability that he kept deeply hidden.
Copyright @coffeewithcharles.blog (Charles D. Grant)