A rumble of thunder and she quickly let go.
“Lauren! Quick! Turn on the weather channel!”
She had already turned off the lights, lit candles, and stocked food. We were prepared for the worse.
“What are they saying? WHAT ARE THEY SAYING??” she yelled.
“That there is a severe thunderstorm watch 20 miles away from here.”
“That’s it! Everyone down in the basement.”
My mother scooped me up and dragged me downstairs, leaving my school friend Matt sitting on the couch confused.
She planted me on the basement couch and waved her finger in front of my face.
“Don’t move. Don’t go near the windows. Just don’t move. Where is Matthew?”
We heard a muffled voice calling from upstairs.
“Hey Ms. Modery,” Matt shouted from the top of the stairs, “Um, if you guys are going to stay in the basement, I think I’m just going to walk home.”
My mother flattened herself up against the basement wall and slowly felt her way to the bottom of the stairs.
“Are you crazy Matthew?! Look at it outside! LOOK AT IT!”
We all looked outside. The sky was gray with a few streaks of lightening, but my mother was absolutely convinced that a tornado would appear at any moment. In the middle of central New York.
“It’s really ok, Ms. Modery. I live just down the street. You guys have fun down there.”
We listened as Matthew collected his things, opened the front door, and exited the house.
My mothers face went blank. “Oh no! The front door is unlocked now!”
I watched as my mother paced around, the wheels churning in her head. If she didn’t go upstairs and lock the front door, the storm could bust through our house at any moment and instantly swoop us up and slam us down like paper dolls.
She decided that locking the front door was the right thing to do, but it took every ounce of her strength to make it to the top of those stairs.
This is what happened every time there was a thunderstorm growing up.
I had no idea until I was an adult that my mother
and I were is abnormal. Even when my friends would tease me at school, I figured they were the ignorant fools. “Yeah just wait until lightening strikes your ear lobe while you’re talking on that phone!” I’d laugh to myself.
After I moved to Texas where thunderstorms are a way of life during the summer, I’d try to politely suggest to my mother that she did not have to rush off the phone and sleep in the basement after hearing a rumble of thunder. I didn’t want to emasculate her deeply rooted fears, but it seemed a little ridiculous. “Hey Mom, can you believe that my friend Jesse used to do tornado drills in school growing up in Oklahoma? Now isn’t that too bad? Now didn’t she really have something to worry about?”
“No, I don’t feel bad! She was stupid for living in Oklahoma. OH MY GOD! I just saw some lightening. I have to go.”
You may wonder why my mother has such an irrational fear of thunder and lightening. What I neglected to mention is that she saw someone getting struck by lightening as a child. Or rather heard since she was running screaming in the other direction when the two people got struck. She said it sounded like someone shot a gun next to her ear and, well, I guess that is a sound that never leaves you, does it? However, you’d think as you get closer to 60, childhood fears will have already dissipated. I guess some never do.