Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rain and Tornados

H. L. Mencken is often referred to as one of America’s greatest writers. I was reading a paragraph attributed to him when I ran across this sentence, “Doing more with less is what writing is all about.”. What a great thought. My less has become more, more or less. That sentence made a big impact on my thoughts about writing. My world may have become much smaller (less), but maybe by sitting here at this keyboard I can write it bigger (more). Interesting!

I had a doctor’s appointment this past Tuesday. The day was bright and sunny. Scott and I had looked forward to the Tuesday visit because the big farmers market is on Tuesday mornings. We planned to go to the market, have lunch at the deli, hit the bread store and work in the doctors visit. I was really looking forward to having a nice day when the phone rang and the doctors office informed me that she wasn’t going to be available. They re-scheduled me for Wednesday.

I woke up Wednesday to a bit of a gloomy day. Rain had been predicted, but rain had been predicted for Tuesday too and it had been a lovely day so I didn’t put much stock in the Weather Channel’s prediction. I did wear a heavy sweater over my long dress, but that is as far as I went with the ‘rain expected’ report. After all, this is Long Beach and we seldom if ever get the rain the rest of the state gets. And it didn’t rain until Scott started the car’s engine. We moaned a bit, but decided that it probably wasn’t raining in Torrance where the doctor’s office is. But the further we went the harder the rain fell. By the time that we pulled into the parking area it was raining as hard as it ever rains here in So. Cal. In fact it was raining so hard Scott put one of his jackets on the ground to prevent me from having to step in a big puddle. I thought his gesture was sweet and old fashioned, but let me tell you what he did for me when we were leaving the doctor’s office. He parked my wheelchair under the walkway roof and went to go his car. He intended to park at the edge of the walkway thereby limiting my exposure to the falling water. But you know what they say about the good intentions of mice and men. He got the car parked in the closest possible place and ran over and started pushing my wheelchair into the rain. All of a sudden my long dress got caught in the left wheel of the chair. With Scott hurriedly pushing the chair the dress became completely entangled. It was so tangled up in the wheel it pulled all of the buttons open, from the neck to the hem, and because the dress was attached to me at the shoulders it also pulled me. So as I screamed, “Stop! Stop!” I was being pulled into a doubled over position and I would have gone head over tail into the gutter if Scott hadn’t grabbed me by the neck of my sweater. I sat in one of the hardest rain storms I have ever seen uncovered from the waist down, doubled over, and my head stuck almost between my knees. I had to stay that way while the two of us tried to get the wheel to release my dress. I didn’t look around to see if anyone saw the undressed lady sitting in the rain in her wheelchair, but I can testify that not a soul came anywhere near us or offered us help. They were probably hiding in their dry cars laughing their heads off at the naked lady and her knight in soaking armor. I was so wet that you could have wrung me out like a dishrag BUT I wasn’t hurt .. unless you take into account my dignity and pride.

Early last evening I took a pain pill for the muscle cramps in my legs and as I do every once in a while I fell asleep. I woke up wondering why the lights were on all over the house until I realized it was nighttime. John had the television on and was playing with the channel turner when he apparently decided there wasn’t anything he wanted to watch and disappeared into another room. I didn’t give that much thought until I heard the beep, beep, beep of an emergency warning coming from the television. All of a sudden the warning came across the bottom of the screen telling all those that lived in Long Beach and a few surrounding cities that a tornado was eminent. I had no idea where John was but I knew that my granddaughter was in the living room so I called her. I knew that no one would believe me when I yelled tornado so I wanted her as a back up. I should have known better. She’s a 16 year old drama queen, I’m a disabled grandmother that needs a wheelchair. Not the best combination in a time of pending disaster. About the time that she came in my room to see what I was yelling about they were scrolling survival directions across the screen. We were supposed to go to the basement. This is So. Cal! There isn’t a basement to be had in the whole state. But the disaster direction writer had thought of that and advised us to find a ditch to lie in if a basement wasn’t available. That wasn’t going to work either. The closest thing that we have to a ditch is the gutter in the front of the house and by the time that she got my wheelchair and me out to the gutter and got me out of the chair and into the gutter the tornado would be here and gone. While I was enjoying the oddity of a tornado warning in California she was getting more and more frightened. The poor thing wanted someone big and strong to protect her so she went and woke up her father who said, “Oh go to bed they don’t have tornados in Long Beach.” and rolled over and went back to sleep. So she went in and tried to wake up her older brother who said, “You and grandma aren’t allowed to watch any more TV. You’re both nuts.” and rolled over and went back to sleep. She came back to my room with tears in her eyes and fear all over he face. She then made the decision that if she was frightened all her friends should be frightened too so she called all of them and woke them up. In the meantime John wandered back to see what all the commotion was about. Now John is not what a drama queen in shock needs to comfort her. He is shaky and pushes a walker. He would need someone to help get him to the gutter too. When John saw the fear he told her to calm down then looked at me and said “I‘ll stay here with you“.

I answered, “You’re not willing to try to save me, but you’re willing to die with me?” to which John repeated, “I’ll stay here with you.”

In the meantime the clock showed that it was 10:00 p.m. and that the disaster time frame was over so my granddaughter hugged me and went to bed mumbling about the brother of one of her friends that she woke up calling her and his sister idiots because ’California doesn’t have tornados’. She wished someone had told the weather man that.

For someone with a very restricted life I have had two days full of adventure, one of them wet and the other one full of hot air.

The beagle just came and asked to go outside so I better close this before it starts raining again. The beagle hates water and I don’t want him to have to hold it until the storm clouds pass.

God bless.

Love, Pennie

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