Monthly Archives: January 2017

Our Storm Story

Our storm story doesn’t compare to those of the tornado victims in our area. But, puny as it may be, this is our story.

We knew thunderstorms were expected. I was actually looking forward to the stormy weather. Nothing is cozier than lying in bed listening to the rain on the roof. However, this storm was a real character! The lightning and thunder weren’t just playing. They were very serious. When you see lightning, then count till the thunder booms and the number of seconds in between is number of miles away to the storm. Right?

But this storm was present with us in force, present and accounted for, no doubt about it. Lightning and thunder were flashing and booming at the same time, over and over again. And then the rain! It was horrendous. Often when I say “Hear the rain?” Charles says “What rain? That’s the air conditioner.” But he heard it this time! We talked about how many inches we might be getting in the rain guage. We were glad our cats had such nice warm dry shelters and I pictured them raising their heads in what should have been the dark of 3:45 a.m. to wonder at the repeated sparking flashes of strong lightning. They’d be flicking their ears, too, at the claps of thunder.

I said something like “Glad our poor old dog Blake doesn’t have to endure this storm. Gone to his rewards. He’d be gone crazy before now.” Blake had a storm endurance disorder that made him go extraordinarily wild before we could even hear thunder. He’d huddle behind the toilet or squeeze behind the freezer trembling from his Irish setter nose to his sad fluffy red tail.

Charles crawled out of bed to go to the bathroom. I lay watching the amazing show.

All of a sudden there was a living, crackling presence right in our room. A huge chandelier-sized ball of lightning sparked and sizzled in a suspended state only six feet from me. At the same time a stroke of thunder boomed and crashed. It happened in a millisecond, I guess, but I will never forget the sight of that electrical ball beside my bed.

“Something very near has been hit,” I told Charles as he came out of the bathroom. Charles Douglas came in from his room. He, too, had seen an electrical ball. Charles told us both reasonably that what we had seen was just strong flashes of lightning, but we contend that this was quite different. That crackling ball of fire in my room is vivid in my mind.

I went to a front window to see if I could tell whether or not one of our pines had been hit. Charles D padded back to his room and came out reporting his television and play station were both dead, completely gone.

That was Sunday, January 23, the day of the deadly tornadoes in South Georgia. Though we did spend time in the basement due to tornado warning, we were not hit. We are so grateful, feel so blessed, we’d be ashamed to say very much about our tiny problems. But, though comparatively tiny, the storm’s hit wreaked havoc on our household.

All week repairmen have frequented our house. As one wire/component/fixture is repaired, another problem is discovered. One repairman who kept running into more electronic wires, devices, etc. “fried,” shook his head with a patient smile as he remarked, “Chasing down ghosts here.”

The inventory right now, I think, is: two televisions, one play station, one computer router, several smoke alarms, numerous wires, landline telephone wire, an entire security system (now restored and updated!) and more.

I asked one repairman for his thinking concerning the randomness of the lightning damage. He said the strike came in on the telephone wire (entrance right beside our bed) and “wandered” around the house striking here and there. “That’s the way it works,” he said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. It goes where it wants to go all in a second’s time. Like a tornado,” he added,” touching down here, skipping that house, demolishing the next one.”

I described to one repairman my visit by the sizzling electrical ball. He said, “Oh, yes, I’ve seen one too. It is awesome!”

When I described the electrical ball to my brother Charlie he said, “Remember Mamma’s story about Uncle Hugh?”

Our mother’s brother Hugh was walking through a storm one day when he glanced over his shoulder and saw an electrical ball sparking down the hill toward him. There was no time to do anything about it. Miraculously, the ball shot past him. As it disappeared in the rain and thunder, Hugh felt something hot on his side. A dime had melted in his left pocket.

Today is so sunny and bright with spring azaleas and Japanese magnolias blooming gloriously. A large umbrella propped near the door on the porch is one of the few visible signs a storm came through.

But for thousands across the Southeast the signs of storm damage are horrific. My mind cannot even grasp the sorrow and pain of those who lost loved ones in tornadoes. The most heartbreaking stories are of those whose children’s bodies have not even been found.

Why are some hit and some not?

It is a helpless question.

But I know this. The Most High God who allows the storms and the unbelievable (such as our daughter’s dying in her sleep at age 42) is the only one who can comfort and give us hope.




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While hunting for the electrical aisle at Home Depot (where my husband Charles and my grandson Charles were making serious decisions and waiting on me to bring a buggy), I caught a glimpse of a man down on his knees counting what looked like boxes of screws. Taking inventory maybe? No, they do that by computer now, don’t they? That’s why every single item you buy has to be scanned, sometimes even if they’re all just alike. But that’s not the way it was done in 1960.

I was working at Brewer Drug Company in Clarkesville, Georgia, as a soda jerk/clerk/general flunky. It was January, time for taking inventory. We didn’t have to count every pill, but we had to count every bottle, every tube, every syringe, glove and bandaid box, every everything. Cabinets and display cases on both side walls reached from the floor to counter top and on up and up. We’d been counting about a week, I think, the day I was elected to count tiny bottles on a top shelf by standing on a counter.

I wasn’t bothered by heights. After all, only a few years before that I’d spent most of my time in trees, the higher the better. I looked out over the store intrigued by my bird’s eye view. Then I blinked my eyes and grabbed hold of the cabinet door to steady myself. The magazine display, tables and chairs, candy rack and even the lovely big mirror that reflected it all were tumbling together and a very odd feeling stirred in my stomach.

My first thought was of the horror and embarrassment if I were to fall. My next thought was to ignore the feeling and it would go away. I was very proud of my job (a job I’d earned simply because my mother was very good friends with the store’s owner, Mrs. Vertilee Brewer), and I was intent on doing everything right.

I reached high and began counting rows and rows of bottles.

Suddenly I felt myself being watched. I looked up at the open mezzanine but Mrs. Brewer wasn’t looking down on us as she sometimes did. Her little head was bent over the accounting books. Then I looked down. Not far away leaning on a glass-topped case stood Dr. Hardin, head pharmacist. He was obviously studying me. A flush heated my face. Was I not counting fast enough? Had I not returned bottles to the right places? And how could he see from way down there?

Dr. Hardin spoke more sharply than I’d ever heard him do before. It’s a wonder I didn’t fall right then and there. “Girl, you have mumps. I have no idea why you even came to work this morning. Get down from there this instant and go home. I’ll call you a taxi from the back. I’ve never had mumps and I don’t intend to have it now.” He was already dis-appearing into his pharmacists’ haven while I considered how to get down with any grace at all.

Everyone stood back as I grabbed my coat and slunk out to get in the taxi.

It was indeed mumps, an illness endured also by my younger sister and my older brother as my poor mother waited on all three of us. My neck swelled to alarming proportions. Eating was an awful chore. Even as sick as I was, though, I was worrying about whether or not I’d lost my job. Mamma knew I was really dreading bad news. She sat on the side of the bed as I opened a card from Mrs. Brewer. She and I both smiled when we saw it was a Get Well card. Mrs. Brewer had penned below the card’s message, “Come back to work when you’re all well. By the way, the inventory is finished.”

I really didn’t mind not counting any more bottles that year!

Now it’s the beginning of 2017 and, as I said, heartless computers are doing the counting day by day, sale by sale.  But there are personal inventories we need to take. For instance, I ask myself, have I grown in any way this year except my waistline? Have I been kinder or smarter or quicker at anything? Have I listened to God more intently and obeyed what I heard him say with more alacrity? Have I counted my blessings lately? Now there’s an inventory in which to revel.

I’m jotting down a few of my blessings:

What a blessing my family is to me–for instance, my husband with whom I delight in sharing a golden sunset, a newborn goat kid, and a laugh from the comics.

The gorgeous, intricately created camellia blossoms blooming in the “bleak midwinter” take my breath away.

Nippy cold weather and a crackly fire to warm by are some favorites.

Christmas cards from friends far and near are so sweet and treasured.

Having someone for whom to make a big pot of stew is a luxury.

Quilting parties, little girl tea parties, sudden after-school snack parties in my kitchen, gatherings with dear, sweet friends whom we trust with our humor and even our secrets–these are precious.

I’m fond of blank paper ready to be used, playing Words With Friends with my grandson (13) and being beaten, the feeling of completion after knitting a hat or scarf or setting jars of jelly on the shelf, the joy of a new book, the sound of children’s laughter, and finding some object that’s been lost a long time or just all day.

The Lord’s compassion as we travel a rough road is always a blessing too.

As I look back over what I listed, I’m struck by the number of blessings I mentioned that are not tangible. Aren’t those the best?

Time for you to start your list.

Have fun!


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