Friday Letter to My Kids – October 3, 2014 –
Dear J, J, L and L,
When we moved to Oklahoma one of the first things anyone said to us was, “Welcome to Oklahoma. If you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes.” That sure proved true. Blue skies could change to threatening wall clouds and potential destruction in just a matter of minutes. Then sirens could start blasting and we’d tune in to the local news to see where the radar signature of a tornado might be traveling.
Do you remember hidey holes?
The first time we had to crouch and hide from a tornado it was in a one and a half-story home with that odd loft. The smallest and most central room in the house was the bathroom. That’s where we hid out when the tornado sirens blasted. I had all four of you climb into the tub where I covered you with a big quilt. Then I hunkered down beside you. Dad must have been out-of-town or at work.
Lucky for us the sirens proved unnecessary and no tornado touched down anywhere. I imagine the adrenaline of that first time kept us all awake late that night.
There’s an odd sensation of wanting to stand at a window and try to see this phenomenon live and in person. It seems to outweigh the logic of hiding out in a closet or bathtub. Nowadays with smart phones, weather cameras and non-stop storm chasers we could snuggle safe in our hidey hole and still see what’s going on.
Our second home in Oklahoma had a bigger, better sheltering spot, in that big weird closet that wrapped around the back of the rock fireplace. Remember that closet? It could have served as an extra bedroom it was so big.
I have to admit I’m glad we didn’t have a storm shelter. The idea of crawling into a glorified hole in the ground and waiting out a fierce storm scares the heck outta me. Remember how I don’t like basements, dark places or small spaces? But we’d have had a better chance if our house had taken a direct hit by a twister if we were underground.
The closest we ever came to real danger was a cluster of tiny tornadoes that sort of skipped over our neighborhood, tickled a few rooftops, took out a few small trees and then dissipated. And once a gas station in the town just north of ours took a direct hit. Phew.
I see news footage of some of the havoc from big storms that sweep through towns and feel grateful we never saw anything like that firsthand. Moving to “tornado alley” turned out okay for us, but the idea sure sounded ominous at the time.
Even in Wyoming you’ve encountered scary stuff. How could you ever forget the time you were staying at Grandpa and Grandma’s house Big J? Lightning hit in the middle of the night and blew the TV out. Grandpa said you made the leap from your bedroom to theirs in one bound.
I suppose anywhere you live there’s some kind of danger. Some areas habitually rock and roll with earthquakes. Others experience frequent flooding. Then there’s the coastal threats of hurricanes and tsunamis. Not to mention volcanoes, drought, landslides, ice storms, sinkholes, dust storms, hail, blizzards. There’s always something.
Life itself plays out as a risky undertaking. Knowing that, we brace ourselves for uncertainty and bumpy roads while enjoying the ride and scenery as much as we can in the meantime.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself less willing to risk even simple things. I’m sure I’m missing out, I’m just not sure how to combat that inherent fear.Hard to believe this now deathly-scared-of-heights woman, your very own mother, is the same one who introduced you to rock climbing and rappelling you when were four and five years old. Who was that woman and where did she disappear to? (Remember days spent at Spire Rock?) Little J picked up the nickname Arachnid for her mad climbing skills back then.
Maybe it’s a hormone thing. Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it’s actually sanity finally settling in. Staying safe, avoiding risk and searching for a solid footing seem to make up a significant portion of my daily efforts. Feels a bit like I’ve taken up permanent residence in a hidey hole.
So far, each of you have braved new adventures with eyes wide and anticipating what’s next. Fortunately, I can also see your wisdom in “setting protection,” like a smart rock climber would. You’re on belay and working your way up to new, fun and spectacular vistas.
It’s scary and exciting to see you progressing. I want to save you from rock fall, wild weather, and anything that might prevent your happiness. But I can’t. Even if I could it’d be unfair of me to deprive you of the learning opportunity of hardship. (Have I mentioned how much I hate learning from hardship? You should at least know that much about me by now.)
About all that I can do involves praying for you which I do daily and fervently! Wherever you go and whatever you do I wish you courage, calm winds, safe passage, sturdy shelter, and plenty of joy.
“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.” ~Rabindranath Tagore
Thank you for the beautiful quote by Tagore! Though you naturally have the instinct to keep your brood safe and out of harm’s way, I find it incredibly courageous of you to instead want them to learn from life.