Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where the heck is John Wayne?

Last night a terrible storm hit just north of us. Bad. Bad enough to take down tree limbs and knock out power. We were safe inside at the time and I was at the computer wondering if our power would kak out on us. It didn’t. But when I turned to look out the window the sky was the most peculiar color – yellow. Hmmm. Did I remember that tornado skies look like that or was I going all yellow brick road for a moment there? My mind began to spin as I considered . . . disasters.

What would we do, hubby and I, if we lost everything to a tornado, fire, hurricane or you name it? We’ve nipped the edges of great loss a couple of times. A few years ago it was a horrific ice storm that brought down some of the tree limbs from our ancient maples. I remember standing in the bedroom the following morning. As hubby sat in a chair next to the window pulling on his socks we heard a slow ominous craaaack! Then a whooosh. Then a thud! The limb speared through the porch roof about a foot from where he sat with only a window between him and sudden death. Well, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but scary to think what might have happened.

The carnage in our yard was astounding. People slowed down to take a look as they passed on the road in front of the house. Smaller limbs had come down, javelin-like, and stuck up out of the ground. Brush was everywhere. But you know what? We didn’t sit around whining about when the power would go back on (okay, maybe a little) or what programs we could tap into for help. Nope. My former Navy Seabee went to work. He got dressed, got the chain saw and got on with it. The old joke is that the Seabees arrive on the scene to get things ready for the Marines. Ha! And John Wayne did a pretty good job of showing exactly how that was done when he starred in The Fighting Seabees in 1944. So my guy did his John Wayne on that tree limb and when our son and grandson stopped by they pitched in, too. We have a video of it somewhere.

Okay, I did my part. I was on the insurance company before you could say Dorothy and Toto. The adjusters in the county were very busy that week. And so were the National Grid guys, and the Red Cross. But I wonder . . .

Have we lost the ability to get out there on our own and take care of business when calamity strikes? Do we have good examples of that “get outta my way, I’ll take care of this,” style that doesn’t sit and wait for help? Good grief. What did people do before “programs”? What did they do before the truck came down the road with relief? I think I know.

They hunkered down while the forces of nature assailed and then they assessed the damages. Next they got off their duffs and got busy. That little bit of John Wayne in all of them took the disaster by the horns, shook a fist at the sky, and moved forward. Helping neighbors, consoling each other, swapping stories and foodstuffs, plowing through the wreckage to recover what they could, and all the while thanking God for their lives.

I pulled away from the window and sighed. I know it’s not so simple to pick up the pieces sometimes. It’s called devastation for a reason. But all hope is never, ever lost. We’ve got to grab onto a better mindset than the one that allows us to sit and wait, grousing and complaining. We’ve got to shake our own fist at all that tries to crush us and fight like a Seabee and on occasion, when necessary. . .  pray like a lost soul.  

I'm pretty sure John Wayne would approve.

Image: Jennifer Ellison                                                      Free Digital Photos


  1. I'm so glad you're okay! Like the one woman who was interviewed in Moore, OK, the day of their tornado said, "We're okay. The rest of it was just stuff."

    I liked her perspective.

    1. Sounds like she's got her head on straight. Thank you for being glad - we're fine.