The Worse Day of My Life…

I always cringe when people ask what was the best day of your life? That is a question you can not answer. I promise you, no matter what you say, you will be in trouble.

For instance:

My wedding day: Now this day was the day I finally got to be Mrs. Hubby and it was wonderful. The weather was perfect. The church was perfect. Spent the entire day cruising around town eating onion rings with my best friend and my cousin… But invariably one of my Christian friends will point out that should the day I got saved be a better day than my wedding day. Well, yeah…but…

The day #1 was born: I have three kids, I ain’t even going there. Yup, it was a perfect day the day #1 was born, or so they tell me. I went to the hospital at 11:30 pm. He was born at 6:15 am. But #2 and #3 would make my life a living you know what if I chose him over them, so like I said I don’t go there…The day they were born were pretty special too. 😉

The day I graduated high school: On a scale of 1-10 this was a 25, but I don’t dare mention it in front of hubby or the kids.

So I will tell you about the worse day in my life… Or at least one of them. 😉

I was nine years old and on Monday, April 1st, tornadoes came through middle TN. Wednesday, April 3 was a dark and gray day. School got out early that day and as my cousin and I walked home from the school bus, it began to hail. By the time my parents got home a few hours later, it had been storming off and on for a while. As we drove home, the hail was bigger than my dad’s fist.

When we got home, mom put my brother on the floor in the Living Room and started cooking tomato soup. Funny how I can remember we were going to have tomato soup that night. We never ate it.

About ten minutes after we got home, Dad yelled, “here it comes!” Mom came out of the kitchen to see what was coming and saw the tornado as it worked it’s path up the 1/2 mile road we lived on. Dad screamed as it hit his sister’s house 1/4 mile away. The house exploded when the tornado hit it. Dad put us in the garage, and put a mattress from the bed over us. In the next few minutes, every thing we owned would come out of the house and hit that mattress with us under it before going on out the garage door.

After what seemed like an eternity, the wind and the rain stopped. Things quit hitting the mattress. There was pure silence. Dad told us to sit still, because there might be more storm. And was he ever right.

People who watched the tornado from their homes said after it hit our house, it split in two. One tornado went into the woods and broke up. The other tornado hit our house with such force, that like my aunt’s house, it exploded! For nearly 5 minutes, we could hear the rafters of the garage moan as they were twisted and blown by that tornado.

Then it was over. After waiting for a full 10 minutes, dad got up and went to look out of the door to see if it was safe for the rest of us. I was nine years old that April and it was the first, last, and only time I ever saw my dad cry. When he got to the door, he saw nothing. We lived in the middle of a forest. My parents had cleaned out enough trees for our house and two rental trailers on about 7 acres of land. The trees were gone. The trailers were gone. Dad could only assume the other houses (his parents, sister, nieces, and some renters lived in) were gone as well. Daddy cried like he was in great pain. He later said, he thought we were the only people in the world alive that day.

The next thing I remember was walking the road to my grand parent’s house. We had no house. No toys. No clothes. No cars. Nothing. The tornado had taken it all away. I only had one shoe and a stinky dog. (She’d gotten into a fight with a skunk and lost earlier in the day apparently). We were met by Civil Defense workers in front of my cousin’s trailer, or at least in front of where it had been. Slowly as we walked, people began to call out from houses that were nothing but rubble. Of the 13 houses on the road we lived on, only one, my grandparent’s was left standing.

The thing that amazes me most that night wasn’t the people who came out to help. Those people were always there to help when I was a kid. No the ones that amazed me were the men who were at our house before the storms were even out of the area to steal from us. We had nothing left, but anything that would have been salvageable was being stolen out from under us. The Civil Defense were told to enforce Marshall Law. They could basically shoot and ask questions later.

I will never forget one lady from our church, Mrs. Jackie Morton. I had always been secretly afraid of her. A bus driver, she always seemed really mean to me. But that night, she cleaned me and my cousins up, fed us food on a Coleman Stove, and told us stories. When the Civil Defense workers said more storms were in the area to get rid of looters, she was the one who rocked us and told us they were lying. Or parents were out trying to find anything they owned that could be saved. There was very little left.

Yesterday I said if I had to name ten people who most influenced me, Jackie Morton would be on that list. She had to fight her way past Civil Defense workers and down trees during a tornado, to come and feed me dinner that night, but she didn’t sit at home and say “wonder what they need done?” She came out and found out. She just represents so many other men and women who came out that night and in the weeks that followed. People who helped my parents dig through the roof of our house to get to my clothes which were under both the roof and the wall of my bedroom. The same closet my parents had told me on Monday night was a safe place to go during a tornado. Had I been home alone that night, I would have been killed.

Yes, Wednesday April 3, 1974 was the worse day of my life. Thankfully, God sent many more good ones, too many to pick from after that. I have been blessed.

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