DECEMBER 27, 2015 — Night before last, a tornado ripped through our small community. When I heard the sirens go off and the Emergency alarm beeping on my phone, I was filled with dread and fear. Though I live in Tornado Alley, I fear these beasts of raging wind and rain. Weather Map for the tornado path.
My youngest son and I huddled in the small closet underneath our stairs. While he was busy trying to get our big Murphy dog situated, along with the two poodles, I couldn’t help but remember what had happened four years ago.
In April of 2011, a massive tornado ripped its way through my community of Bessemer, ravaged it, claimed lives, and then moved into another small community named Concord, where my oldest son Matthew lived.
With his cellphone still working, he called.
“Mom, the house is gone. It’s gone,” he said, his voice completely without emotion.
“Are you hurt?” I asked him.
“It’s gone, Mom. Everything’s gone. I heard it coming, and I went into the closet. It was all I could think to do. Then I felt the wind and I held onto the doorknob. Then the roof flew off and everything just collapsed.”
Still, that lifeless voice spoke.
“The whole place. Nothing’s left.”
At the time, I thought he meant his home, but in reality, he meant the entire community.
“Matthew, I’ll come get you. Stay where you are. Matthew?”
“I’m here,” he said.
“Good. Stay there. I’ll come get you. Do you understand?”
“I hear something, Mama,” he said. “I’ll call you back.”
With that, he hung up.
The TV newscaster was on the scene there in Concord. She recounted the devastation, the homes destroyed, the people killed.
It was almost an hour later when I heard from Matthew. This is what he said.
“I heard something. I thought it was a kitten, so I walked across the way and saw a pile of limbs and logs. There was a house there earlier today. But there was nothing left except rubble. But I heard this kitten and wanted to find it. I didn’t want it to die. So, I climbed up on the pile of wood. The sound got louder. I could hear it crying. I got on my knees and started flinging all that debris out of the way. I tore up my hands but I didn’t care. I wanted to get it, so I kept digging to find it.”
He stopped for a minute, and I could hear him struggling to talk. I thought he might be crying.
“Matthew, honey, are you okay? Go ahead. Tell me.”
“Well, I kept slinging aside boards and trash, all sorts of debris, and then I heard the crying sound so loud I knew I was close. I squeezed my hand down into the hole I’d made. Then I managed to break off another board and put both my hands down. And then, I felt it. I grabbed hold as gently as I could and pulled it out.”
He stopped again.
“It wasn’t a kitten, Mom. It was a baby, a baby girl, only a few months old. I wrapped the little thing in my shirt and held onto her. Then I left and went to find help.”
By the time Matthew had saved the baby, workers from FEMA and The Red Cross were on the scene in Concord. They discovered the bodies of the baby girl’s parents later that day.
The tornado that ripped through Bessemer last night leveled three homes and killed eleven people. Still, I kept thinking about that tornado four years ago. It had destroyed the community, but my son was spared and by God’s grace, he saved a child.
Perhaps that is why he was spared. His purpose. His life’s work: to save the life of another of God’s children.
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I am so honored to have my personal book, “Mother, Can You Hear Me?” featured in the MUST READS section of Southern Writers Magazine. The honor is increased by the company of other authors who are included in the MUST READS section.
“Mother, Can You Hear Me?” is a collection of my experiences as full time caregiver for Mother during her final illness. Writing about our experiences helped me keep balanced during the days as caregiver — as I wrote, I tried to find the humor and human-ness in our situation. Many reviews and readers have told me that the book helped them during their caregiver days because of that very human aspect; helped them keep their own sense of humor during trying times.
There comes the time in our lives, if we are fortunate enough to have our parents with us in their elderly days, that the child becomes the parent. But, that situation is only remotely ‘easy’ when working with the administrative part of care. The parent is always the parent — the every day experience hinges on how caregivers permit their parent to be the parent with respect and honor, even while orchestrating daily life for the benefit of the now dependent parent.
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FIVE stars at Readers Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest have begun shining for The Sutler of Petersburg, written by Jack Magnus.
Written as the beginning volume for Murray Pura’s Let Freedom Ring series, The Sutler of Petersburg fictionally tells a tale of unusual facets surrounding recruits and soldiers involved in the American Civil War. A favorite of mine and of many readers, Sutler gives us a clear view of Tucker D. Not Tucker’s first appearance in my stories, but one of the most clear. I enjoyed writing this story incredibly. I found the research for the unusual and obscure bit with a generous Irish flavor made me a very happy writer. When the story produces happy readers, my pleasure is multiplied many times over. Most of the reviews are available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can find links to these online stores at Buy Books Here.
I enjoy conversations with readers, through their reviews and personal contact at my Facebook page or at the Angel Pack. If you haven’t joined the Angel Pack, please follow the link. Membership is FREE and I would love to send a personal post card to you with an original, collectible signature/autograph.
Barbara Fanson expressed her pleasure in reading Emalyn’s Treasure with a FIVE star honor at Readers’ Favorite Reviews and Award Contest. I join her in that pleasant opinion — Emalyn’s Treasure let me tell a story about a part of Ireland’s history that isn’t commonly known, yet was influential for that country and representative of progress around the world. I hope all readers enjoy reading this love story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I enjoy and appreciate all reviews. If you’ve read and enjoyed Countenance, i certainly would love to add your review to the acknowledgements. Reviews are always welcome at Amazon or GoodReads or in your own special blog post.
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Authors often have favorite novels within their ‘wordy family.’