I was resting on a lonely afternoon. A mother bird in a wide, round nest. The twigs are woven tight in a circle, and there are feathers still floating from where the fledglings have flown off.
My husband and I had moved our youngest off to college just weeks ago. He rarely takes a vacation and had the longing to see three of our other kids on the coast. Do a little surfing, a little fishing, with Mark, “the shark,” the surfer. He needed to catch up with Katie, her acting in community theatre, meet her new boyfriend. He’d hang out with Danika, maybe watch a movie they’d like or play the guitar, the electric, the acoustic.
Why didn’t I go? Because our oldest autistic son hates long drives. Because there wasn’t enough room in their apartment. Because someone needed to hold down the fort at our family business. It was Rob’s turn. Thanksgiving will be the time for the whole flock to be together. We’d gather around another bird and do the traditional gobble.
I was just dropping off. You know that feeling? Like your body leadening into the memory foam? My phone rang. It was my Rob. “Get ready, little Mama. Your kids are coming home.”
I’d just been in Walmart with my son, Paul, who shops and cooks for himself. I had the stark realization that I’d only had to feed myself that week. Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then, just feed one.” That would be me. Strange. When was the last time that was the reality? College, thirty some years ago.
Hurricane Florence was spinning slowly, like a buzz saw, heading right towards Wilmington as a cat 4 or 5. Mark was taking it seriously. Forget the totally awesome waves it would produce. “I don’t mess with the ocean at this level,” he said.
The last hurricane the area saw was Hazel in 1954, and she was a doozy.
Evacuation was mandatory. Having grown up in Florida, you don’t have to tell us twice. When the meteorologists say get out, GET OUT.
It wasn’t hard to wake up. I needed to get to the grocery store and stock the pantry. My kids were coming home!
But there was a glitch. There always is. My dear mom-in-law, may she rest in peace, used to call us, “The What-Next Family.”
Danika was scheduled to fly out of the Wilmington airport Wednesday morning to see her beau in Colorado Springs. This trip had been planned for a couple of months. Okay, no worries. A 5 AM flight the next morning shouldn’t be a problem. Hurricane Florence wasn’t arriving until Thursday. This was Tuesday.
Rob, Mark, Katie, and her boyfriend Brandon arrived safely at our mountain refuge, Tuesday, mid- afternoon.
Later that day, Danika texted, “Pray for me. My flight’s been cancelled.”
Mark, in his dark, sullen wa,y said, “I had a feeling about that. I didn’t feel right about leaving her in Wilmington.”
I’m calling Danika, texting her, with no response. That is her way, though. She was planning what to do. Finally, after a couple of hours, she calls. “I’m on my way to Charlotte to stay with Kali. I have a flight out tomorrow at 11 am.” Thank God. “Please hug Kali for me and tell her I say a big Mama thank you.”
“I will, Mama.”
“I literally feel like I’m outrunning the hurricane. Like it’s chasing me,” Danika stressed.
“You really are.”
I imagined her beautiful brown hair whipping in the wind, as she drove her black car she aptly named, Shadowfax.”
I wasn’t totally at ease until she landed in Denver.
We spent a whole week with our kids. When was the last time Mark was home for a solid week? High school was the last time.
They worked at the building, patching leaks on the roof, clearing brush, helping me ship orders, developing a new game at the computer, and gathering pallets for the next truck delivery. Mark and Rob went fishing down below our house on the hill on the Hiawassee River. Katie and I drank coffee on the back deck in the mornings, amid the trees and birdsong. Katie showed Brandon around her small town, where she grew up. We ate and play-tested the new game. Rob and Brandon strummed guitar. We had serious talks here and there. The “Come to Jesus” kind.
Woven through those nested twigs, is also the Rosary. The beads of prayer make it a strong home, when the babies need to fly back to base, to strengthen their wings. I insisted on a prayer against storms from my trusty Pieta prayer booklet, in addition to our mealtime blessing.
The grandparents dropped over and we ate spaghetti, salad, a little vino and laughed and thanked God for safety, for family, for LOVE.
There’s nothing like a perfect storm to whirl us into the center eye of what is important.
Thank you, Our Lady, Star of the Sea, for guiding us mariners to port, to our lighthouse nest.
Copyright 2018 Susan Anderson