First let me just say that I have always taken storms seriously. Tornado warnings were the only thing I would wake up my sleeping children for in the middle of the night when they were growing up. In May of 1957, when I was seven months old, my family and I lived in Ruskin Heights and were smack dab in the middle of one of the largest tornados to ever hit this area. Of course I do not remember this storm, but I remember the effects it had on my parents for years after.
Our home at the time was spared by the tornado although my father helped many neighbors crawl out of the crumbles of their houses and the shopping center close by. I remember seeing pictures from the newspaper clippings my parents kept. One was of the high school, only the first two and last two letters of the school, “RU IN”, were still hanging on the destroyed building. Another picture was of a car on top of the water tower.
The house we lived in, like most in the Ruskin area, did not have basements. After the storm my father had a basement dug beneath our house. I did not even know that was possible to do! The entire time I remained living in my parents’ home, whenever there were tornado warnings, my father would send us to the basement while he nervously watched the sky from the open garage door.
Last Friday, the day I came home from the hospital, there were storms in the area and I kept a close watch on the news and prayed there would not be any warnings for our area. I was not sure I would be able to do those stairs again that day. On Monday I was devastated watching the reports out of Joplin, thinking about all the loss and destruction and feeling so bad for all the families involved.
On Tuesday evening I did my motherly duty and called both of my Missouri girls to make sure they would keep an eye on the weather that night as they were predicting a new round of severe storms for our area. Molly asked where she should go in a tornado warning since she had just moved into a new apartment on the third floor. Kayla and I had the same discussion since her and Dylan’s rented home does not have a basement. Next thing I know Molly, Kayla and Dylan all decided to come home for the night. This worry wart mother could not have been happier. I told them both that since they were making the effort to get here that I was sure all would be calm for the night.
We had a great evening visiting and hearing surgery stories from Dylan. As predicted all was calm. At around 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Kayla, Molly and I were all hanging out in my room trying to decide what we should have for lunch. Next thing we know, a tornado warning for Jackson County was being issued. They said to take cover immediately. We decided we should head for the basement. We sent the girls on down and Dave helped me navigate the steps, all thirty of them, fifteen to the first floor and fifteen to the basement. I was slow but I made it just fine.
As we watched the weather coverage on the news I was thinking how seriously everyone was taking this warning…..schools were sending kids to the basement, offices were sending employees to the lowest levels of the buildings. No doubt this heightened sensitivity was due to the Joplin catastropy we had all just witnessed. After waiting in the basement for a few hours we decided to move upstairs. I am happy to report that I made it back up all thirty steps, back to my bedroom, without even stopping for a rest in between.
The physical therapist is not visiting today but left me with instructions to complete the exercises on my own. I think I may have exceeded both her and my own expectations for the day.
Keep safe everyone.