They are predicting for today and tonight the worst storms that we’ve all year. Severe thunderstorms, baseball-sized hail and, of course, the ever-present possibility of tornadoes. If I were at home, I’d be a bit trepidatious but thrilled because our house was built in 1956…4 years before I was born…and it’s down in a little valley so I know it’s a strong house and just a bit safer since it is in the valley. But I also know that if an F5 tornado hits, unless you’re in a cellar or reinforced room, you’d definitely better get in your bathtub and cover it up with a mattress and pray. I remember when I was back in grade school and the weather got bad, we’d get beneath our desks and cover our heads. Of course, all of the classrooms at our elementary school had 1 whole side of the room that was windows so I don’t think that the “duck and cover” system was going to work too well in the event of a serious tornado. I have a very healthy respect for the storms we get here in Texas but I have very rarely panicked because of it. My mom, on the other hand, would freak out while dad was calm and collected. My mom was an alarmist about anything that was outside of her comfort zone and that’s really not a good thing for your children to witness. She always took everything to the absolute worst possible outcome. When we were both in grade school, once a week after picking us up…because we’d get snatched by some perv if we walked thru all of the safe neighborhoods to and from school..we’d stop at the convenience store and get a coke and some candy. 1 day my 6 or 7-year-old brother said that he wanted to work in a convenience store…because they had cokes and candy and Slurpees and gum, etc…and instead of just saying something benign she told him that someone would come in, rob, and shoot him dead. Pretty much any possible career paths we mentioned as children were met with her standard, “you can’t because you’ll die a horrible death” spiel. That woman could find a way for someone to die no matter what they were doing. And it wasn’t just die…it was die a horribly painful death. Fortunately, my dad was the voice of reason but the damage had been done and the die cast by the time I was in junior high. My mom was basically 1 fear filled pinata. There were so many things that I wanted to do when I was younger but my mom had caused me to be afraid of everything. And if she couldn’t fill me with fear about something, she would guilt the hell out of me so I missed out on so many opportunities. She had the apron strings tied very tightly to us and she never loosened them. I went through 4 years of JROTC in high school and moved quickly up the ranks. In my senior year, a Marine recruiter began trying to recruit me. Hard. He’d show up during my ROTC class, he’d call my home, and then he made the mistake of showing up at my house 1 day. My mom totally jumped his shit and told him in no uncertain terms that he was to leave me alone and stop recruiting me. I never saw him again. I’ve looked back over the years and thought that I would have excelled in the Corp. The discipline, camaraderie, the mission, the travel, the education, and, of course, being able to retire relatively early and start a 2nd career. At 17, I wanted to go to work where my friends were working…fast food or retail. Nope, I’d get killed by armed robbers. I wanted to go away to college for my freshman year…nope, I’d be abducted and, you guessed it, killed. After my second year of junior college, I was offered a scholarship at the American University in Washington, D.C. but my mom guilted into turning it down. Where would I be now if I’d gone? Most of my life is made up of the where would I be now if she hadn’t projected her fears and guilt upon me. The 1 time that I defied her was when I decided to leave my abusive 1st marriage. I told her for the 1st time that he was abusing me and that I was looking for an apartment. Her response was that I couldn’t leave him because then who would look after me? WTF??? I had a full-time and 2 part-time jobs and was the main breadwinner of the house. She went on…if I lived alone in an apartment, I’d be raped and killed so I needed to move back home. Nope to that. I had gone from living with my parents to being married so I wasn’t going to go backward. I was finally ready to spread my wings and fly. And I did. I weathered figurative and literal storms all on my own. I did stupid things and took risks and lived to tell about it…well, a lot of it. Some of it will never be told so only the others involved know about those things. I lived on my own for almost 8 years, dated a lot of different types of people but never got too serious with any of them but remained friends with most of them, partied a little too much, came and went as I pleased, and, basically, grew the hell up. I always say that I was doing in my late 20’s and early 30’s what most people had done in their teens so I was a bit smarter about the things that I did so I didn’t end up making too many stupid mistakes. At 31, my mom and I made peace with each other after 30 pretty contentious years. And she told me later that she was proud of me and who I’d become. I had proved that I didn’t “need” anyone to take care of me. I began to understand her better as time passed. She was raised in a time when women were more submissive and they were wives, homemakers, and mothers. They were dependent upon their husbands. They were the “weaker sex.” Well, bullshit to that! She actually started bucking that system as she got older. It was fun to watch. And, the thing is, my dad actually respected her more when she did that. She got a job. She didn’t worry as much about having dinner on the table the second he walked in the door or cooking an elaborate breakfast each morning. Dad began to do some of the cooking as well as other things that mom had always done. And when Mom’s Alzheimer’s got really bad, he took care of her. He’d go get her every day from the assisted living center and bring her home so she could be with Radar, her beloved German Shepherd, and be in more familiar surroundings. He’d cook and then feed her. He’d help her in the restroom. He’d comb her hair and dress her. He worried about her constantly. If you’d known my dad say 25 years before this, you would have never guessed that this would have happened. I wish that mom could have been cognizant of this change in him even for a day. My dad was pretty lost when she finally passed. WOW, I’ve kind of taken you on a long trip through my life and it all began because of the impending storms. I guess that a lot of things happen because of impending storms. Well, hopefully, this will be a day of intense but not tornadic storms. And no baseball-sized hail pounding my car and our roof. Plus, if there’s hail then there’s a good chance that there will be some tornado watches and warnings. So, fingers crossed!