Life After a Tornado

I’ve been trying to write about what happened in Middle Tennessee last Monday night for the past week but couldn’t bring myself to write about it as it still seems so unreal. When we went to bed on Monday night (March 2nd) we had no idea that the weather was supposed to get as bad as it did. The last thing we saw on the news was that Kentucky was going to get some bad stuff.

Where we live, we have tornado sirens that go off when a tornado is approaching and that is what woke me up as my phone was on silent, so I never heard the alarms on it. I remember the clock saying 12:57 am right before we lost power. The sirens were really load and kept going off constantly, so I knew something was wrong. I woke my husband up as he would have probably slept through it all.

Once I woke him up, we could hear the wind whipping and the RV started shaking as the winds picked up more and more. I’m sure it was only seconds that passed, but it seemed like several minutes as time seemed to stop. We could hear the winds getting louder and heavier and then we heard that sound that sounded like a train. There was nowhere for us to go as we do not have a storm shelter and at this point it would have been too late to try to get anywhere and living in the RV there was no place that was safe to hunker down, so we laid in our bed holding our pups to wait out what could have been our final moments in life.

I spent the time praying that God watch over my children and grandchildren and help them to get through whatever aftermath they might face if this was my last few moments on earth. I also prayed that God would let us go peacefully and without pain.

Once the tornado passed, the winds died down and everything seemed so silent. My husband went outside, but couldn’t see much at that time of night, but could tell that all the RV’s and mobile homes right around us were okay. It would only be a matter of minutes before we could hear the sirens of police, fire and rescue sounding through the night.

For what seemed like hours we sat in our bed thanking God we were still alive and wondering just how bad it was outside of our little space and just how many lives had been affected by what we were seeing online already. After what seemed like forever, we laid down to try and rest. It would not be until morning that we would see and hear more about what had happened in the night.

Our power was restored before noon the next day. We were one of the lucky ones. As of the writing of this post there are still people without power. The storm stayed on the ground stretching over 60 miles from the west side of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee to Cookeville, Putman County, Tennessee. There are 25 deaths including children and many more injured.

The tornado strengths ranged from an EF-2 to EF-4 as it touched down in:

  • Germantown/North Nashville
  • East Nashville/Five Points
  • Donelson
  • Juliet (the town we live in)
  • Cookeville

Although these cities have endured much over the past week, the communities have come together, and people are helping people in so many ways. Volunteers have come from all over the US to help in clean up and restoration of power and so much more.

It’s times like this that make you really think about your life and how you live each day. It will take many months, if not years, for the areas affected to fully recover, but they will recover. I pray for all the families that have lost a loved one, their home, pets and more that they will have the strength to endure the days ahead and know that they are not alone in their journey.

My husband asked me if I wanted to move back into a sticks and bricks house after living through this and the experience we had being in the RV and hearing the winds and feeling the RV shake and not knowing if we would see the light of day again, and I quickly said NO. It wasn’t until later that I started to regret living in the RV, but that was only when I thought about what could have happened if that tornado had moved only ½ mile to the right, which is all it would have taken for us to be part of the devastation. I am so grateful that God looked out for us that night. I have to believe I still have a purpose for being here and that God wasn’t ready to call me home just yet. While I’m here I want to make the most of my life and I want to enjoy every day that I have because times like this show us that things can change in a blink of an eye.

Holding Onto Memories of the Past

Today is a memorable day for two different events two years apart. Ten years ago today I moved to the big city of Nashville, Tennessee. I had just received my bachelor’s degree the day before and I was looking forward to new adventures. I remember packing the U-Haul early that morning, saying my good-byes to the girls and driving out of town. Because I would need some man power when I got there, my son and his friend followed me in my car. We finally arrived in Nashville around 9:00 pm. We had to unload everything that night because I had to have the boys at the airport the next morning to send them back to Tallahassee.

Now it was time to unpack and get settled into my new home. Not only did I have to unpack, but I had to find a job and fast. It didn’t take as long to get those boxes unpacked and get settled in. It felt great to be able to start fresh after all that I had been through the previous two years. Getting a job was another issue and took a little bit longer to get accomplished. It would be March 1st before I was able to start my new job.

My first place was on apartment off Edmonson Pike. It wasn’t too far off I-65 so it made it quick to hit the interstate to go back home or get just about anywhere I wanted to go. My son bought me a GPS for Christmas so I could find my way around town as I had never lived in a big city before. I was looking forward to learning my way around and finding all the good places to shop.

My apartment was on the 3rd floor. Not sure what I was thinking when I agreed to the third floor. It wasn’t bad until I made the trip to my parents to bring my dog home. She was a 10-year-old miniature dachshund, Annabelle. Those poor little short legs hated all those steps, so mommy carried her, to not wear her out. She was used to peeing on pee pads too, so sometimes I cheated and let her do that to avoid the steps, but mostly only on days it was raining or snowing. She hated the rain. She was only with me for a couple months before I re-homed her. I didn’t think it was fair to leave her in a house all day with nobody at home as she was used to someone always being there with her, so I found a lady who had just lost her baby and give her another baby to love. Oh how I miss my Annabelle.

On this day in 2007, we got the best call we could have ever received. My husband, Brian, was going to get the transplant he needed. He had only been on the transplant list for a couple weeks, but he was at the point that if he didn’t get the transplant soon, we would most likely loose him by the end of the year.

I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when the call came in. We had just moved most of our stuff into storage, only taking our essentials with us, to live with his mother. Brian was needing to be looked after 24-7, so the family decided this was the best option. I had returned to the apartment to clean when the call came in that we had a possible donor. I was standing in the dining room, trying to hurry up as I really needed to be by his side. Once I got the call, I called him and told him the news. He wanted me to summon all the kids to the house, so he could see them before making the drive to the hospital, which was at least two hours away. We had been told without a transplant he would surely die and with a transplant he could still die, so we were trying to prepare ourselves for the worse, but you can never prepare yourself for losing a loved one.

No sooner had I called him, and the kids and I received another call from the hospital telling us to wait. They needed to run more test on the donor organ. They would call us back. Frustration and fear swept over me like a ton of bricks. I quickly finished what I was doing, turned in the keys and got home right away. By the time I got there the children had arrived.

He took time to speak to each one individually. He wanted to give some fatherly advice to each and give them their Christmas present that he had picked out himself. After about two hours since the original call we received the second call telling us to get to the hospital. The girls were staying behind as well as our oldest son, although he came later in the night. The youngest son rode with us. That seemed to be the longest drive we had ever made from Tallahassee to Gainesville and believe me I wasn’t going the speed limit, so it shouldn’t have taken too long to get there. Not sure why I was in such a hurry, probably just the adrenaline as we were told to take our time and just come as soon as we could get there.

Once we got there, it would be a few hours before the surgery would start. We were told everything was going according to plan. The oldest son arrived before surgery was over, so the three of us were there to greet him when he came out of recovery. He looked great and he said he felt great. We thought we had received our Christmas miracle.

The next 24-48 hours would be critical as they needed to make sure the body wouldn’t reject the new organ. Because he was a diabetic, they also had to stabilize his insulin which seemed to be a little tricky at times. The first 24 hours was good. The boys ended up going home on Saturday. The youngest daughter was at a church event that her daddy insisted that she go on so she would not be there until Sunday.

When I arrived at the hospital on Sunday, things had taken a turn for the worse. The organ was still doing good, but something wasn’t right. He was in and out of it. Sometimes he knew who I was and at other times he didn’t. They said if things didn’t change, they might have to put him into a medical induced coma. I didn’t want that. At one point I was told to call the family. All the children, but our oldest daughter made it in time to see their dad one last time before our world shattered yet again. The oldest was in the parking garage when Brian slipped into a coma that he would never come out of.

It took six weeks before I could convince the doctors to let me take him home as the transplant team didn’t want to give up although the neurological team said he was brain dead. They claimed that a stroke was what put him into a coma. I still have my doubts about that.

I seldom left the hospital as I wanted to be there just in case there was a change or if he woke up. It was the most grueling six weeks of my life. He was my world…my rock. How could I go on without him?
Every year at this time I can’t help but think about all the events that took place on this day and how it affected my life so much. There are so many times that I wish I could go back to 2007 and relive those days over again, but this time with a different outcome.

The lives of my children changed so much that year. The person who held us together was gone and none of us would ever be the same again. Our family dynamic had changed, our goals changed, our futures changed, everything changed in the blink of an eye.

What Living in Nashville Meant to Me

This morning I woke up to a massive downpour. Not the kind of weather I like to drive in. On the way to work I thought I was back in Nashville on an icy frozen morning when I passed someone in the ditch. I thought to myself, it’s only raining people it’s not frozen ice…surely you can drive better than that! I always hated those icy mornings and I remember having a lot of those this time last year when I was preparing to work out my final days. All of this reminiscing made me start thinking about all the things I left in Tennessee.

When I moved to Nashville in late 2009, I moved there with very little. All I had was an apartment to move into and stuff to furnish it with. I had no family, friends or even a job when I landed there in December 2009. Ok maybe I had one acquaintance, but I had only known this person for about three months and had only seen him twice prior to my arrival. We became better friends once I arrived and he was able to show me around Nashville and help get me acquainted with my new surroundings.

It took till March 1st for me to start work and it was there that I made some of the best friends I had ever had. My co-workers soon became my friends and we shared many stories throughout my tenure at Vanderbilt. I miss them all very much, but especially Cheryl, who was not only my supervisor, but a person who became a great friend to me. A person I miss more than she probably realizes and someone I will never forget. I will always remember our trip to Mississippi to the casino to see Wanda Sykes in concert. We laughed more than I thought possible. We also gambled…well Cheryl did anyway. I’m a cheapskate and I didn’t want to lose my money.

As the years went on, I met many more people, each touching my life in one way or the other. Every one from my karaoke crew to my photography partner and more. However, my hardest departure was leaving my co-workers from Franklin American Mortgage, which is where I was working when we started traveling. The girls there meant more to me than I think any of them realized and I will always be appreciative of the times they listened and supported me.

I accomplished a lot during my years in Nashville. I went from being jobless to earning an MBA degree. Even bought a house and after meeting a lot of toads, finally met, fell in love with and married my prince. I guess you could say I accomplished a lot and as such it was time to move on, which we did in March 2015. However, with all that I accomplished and all that I have done, I will always remember my time in the big city and will always miss, not only the city, but the people I met while there.

To all of you that I met along the way, thank you for being a part of my life, in one way or the other.

Counting down

Today is the beginning of another month and means we are one day closer to living out our dream. We’ve been living in the RV full-time since the 15th of December and it’s been great living in our little space. The weather here in Nashville has been cold and miserable on more days than not and it seems the only sunny days are when I’m at work instead of on the weekend. I’m looking forward to the day we can pack it in and get on with full-time RVing and travel, travel, travel! We are hoping by the first of March to be on the road full-time. Our first destination will be the Florida panhandle to visit with my parents for a while and then we’ll be going down south along one coast and back up the other side. I look forward to a wonderful adventure with my husband and all that is in store for us.