We all have moments in our lives that define who we are.
I read somewhere events that happen before you turn age 18 impact how you deal with your life in the future. This includes child abuse, divorce of parents, death of a family member, moving, bullying, good or bad teachers, accidents, etc. All these freaky things roll together and form who you are and how you live.
April 4, 1974 was the night of the tornados in Madison County, Kentucky. Today is the anniversary. I was a senior in high school and my brother was in the Navy so I was thrilled that he had left me his car, a red Ford Pinto that I drove everywhere.
I remember the evening being fairly warm but windy. As I was traveling back home from Berea I thought the sky to the West was beautiful...sort of pink as the lightning would brighten the black sky. I had been visiting my boyfriend's mother in the hospital and was only a few miles south of exit 90 on I-75. We lived on the White Hall exit on a 33 acre farm that had a beautiful newly restored 2 story home with plaster walls, 6 fireplaces and 2 staircases. Nestled back a few acres in maple trees you could hardly see it from the road. The farm had a creek, woods and 2 barns. My Dad had built a Texaco service station on the road frontage across from White Hall Elementary School. There were a few houses down the road but mostly it was farmland where I rode my horse everyday. I managed my own stable where I taught riding lessons and rented stalls. The money I earned paid for clothes, supplies for my horses and gas for the car.
I must have arrived about 20 minutes after the tornado had hit.
As I came across the bridge what I noticed first was that the stately trees lining the road were all chopped off and grotesque. Inching closer behind cars I finally drove up to the service station and pulled over. It looked like a war zone! There were no lights and I could barely see power lines on the ground sparking. State Police and were everywhere keeping cars moving away from the area. They were trying to keep me out too! I jumped over the power lines running toward the station. Someone was out there with a flashlight was coming toward me. I was so glad to see it was my Dad. In that moment we stood there I looked back behind the station where the house should be. Pitch black darkness...a lightning strike lit the sky...finally I could see the hill where the house should be and only a few broken trees remained!
Where was the house??
Dad told me that Mom and my little brother (Mark) had been in the house when it hit. He had called her as she sitting upstairs at the window watching the black clouds. He warned her that tornado was heading to the house and to run for the basement. She had grabbed my brother and raced toward the basement. As she closed the door the wind took the house right off the foundation and piled the whole thing in the neighbor's field next door. He had sought cover under a heavy table in his office as it took the roof off the building. Shaking and then looking around he peered out the back door and saw the house was gone. I'm sure he ran up to where the house had been in a second flat! There under bricks and sheet metal from the furnace lay Mom and Mark. Still alive but scratched and beat up. He got them out and helped them toward the station. Someone took them to the hospital but he stayed to keep looters out of the station. He was worried but was doing the best he could in a crazy situation. He wanted me to go find them and see that they were OK.
There were so many cars in the road that I had to drive out US25 all the way to Boonesboro exit on I-75 to get to the hospital back in town. Once there I found Mom all scratched up, no glasses or shoes and Mark was sitting next to her with his arm in a sling. They looked pitiful and sad. She didn't remember anything after she had closed the basement door and was on the 2nd step. I put them in my car and took them to my boyfriend's house where we stayed for a few days so our lives could be sorted out. Dad stayed at the station to protect it. All I had left were the clothes on my back and my car. My senior year was in shambles right before prom. No clothes, shoes, cherished childhood mementos, furniture, my horses were missing, no barns and since I was a kid (no insurance).
What I can figure out now is that it taught me that I can start over at any time. It's easy to let things go that don't work. I've wiped out at least 4 times in my life all for different reasons. Each time I start over I end up with more. Like a new and improved, stronger version of Lizette. Last night, we had many storms in our area and I headed for the basement to be safe. As I curled up with my little dog I felt comfort in all I had accomplished and amazingly I have no fear about a tornado. Starting over is part of life and makes you strong. Life is good!