F-5

May 20, 2013

The first I knew that something horrible had happened came from friends on Facebook.  “Praying for the people in Oklahoma.”  Shortly thereafter, “We are Okay but friends and co-workers have lost homes.”  Then another and another.  I turned on CNN and learned that a terrible, powerful, monster of a tornado had struck Moore, Oklahoma.  It isn’t their first and we will learn soon if it is the worst.  An F-5.

This is personal.  This is home.  My Wife grew up only a few miles South of Moore in Norman.  I know this region because it’s where I was lovingly accepted into a family that became my family.  Some of them live there still:  My Brother-in Law, his wife and their three children.

I tried to call them.  “Your call cannot be completed at this time.”  I tried again, thinking that I’d get lucky.  I would not.  I heard the same message. That’s when they snuck up on me:  old emotions, tucked safely beneath plenty of layers of love, hope and great life and yet ready to surface, I learned, at exactly such a moment as this.  Just a machine-spoken message but one that I had heard years earlier when trying to call my parents in Texas from Oklahoma City after receiving reports of a terrible storm—an F5— that had torn through my hometown.  Technology then wasn’t like it is today.  No cell phones, internet, instant messaging or 24-hour news cycle.

“Your call cannot be completed…” Helpless. So, tonight, I shed new tears out of old wounds.  I relived an experience of 34 years ago.  The only option then was to drive 150 miles south with no means of learning the fate of my parents and sister until I turned onto their street and parked.

Tonight, as in 1979, too many people died.  Tonight, as in 1979, my family is safe.  And I cry.  Again.

2 thoughts on “F-5

  1. Nancy, thank you. I was feeling very alone that night…far away from home in many ways. This terrible thing made it worse and I had to express my feelings and get relief as best I could at the time. Your friendship is, I hope you know, precious to us!

  2. Oh Marshall, You and Cathy were the first people I thought of when I heard about the tornado. So glad to hear that your family is o.k. Love you both.

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