Tornadoes and Trifecta

   You know those days when you get a brief glimpse of what really matters, of what's really important in your life?  Today is one of those for me.  17 tornadoes + a 70th birthday + an awkward phone call = trifecta.

   The morning kicked off as usual- me chasing two giggling girls around the house with a hairbrush, getting a few swipes of their bedhead in before Little Girl inevitably slams Baby Girl into a wall trying to knock a coveted toy loose from her grip, which spurs Baby Girl to retaliate by quietly approaching Little Girl from behind, grabbing her ponytail until Little Girl's nose hits the ceiling and she drops said toy, then Baby Girl sweeps in, snatches the toy and disappears.  Livin' the dream.

A stolen moment while the girls go in opposite directions.  [Lumi Creative Studio]
   I always make a plan for the day the previous evening before I go to bed.  99% of the time, the schedule changes so I have to remain flexible.  The plan was to take Little Girl to school, come back home to play with Baby Girl and make lunch, then head out to run errands while Baby Girl naps in the car.  After we pick Little Girl up from school, we'll return some books to the library, stop by my parents' house to drop off birthday cards for my dad, then grab dinner before my boot camp class at the gym this evening. 

   My dad turned 70 years old today and we're all still recovering from the birthday party my siblings, mom, husband, and I threw for him this past Sunday.  70.  SEVENTY.  Wow.  What a milestone.  It was pretty humbling trying to plan a 70th birthday party.  Of course I wanted to use it as an excuse to delve even deeper into my Pinterest addiction and over-plan the food and decorations.  But I knew that wouldn't make the party fun for him.  And if there's ever a time to put my compulsions aside and really focus on the birthday recipient, this was it.  Never has a man been more generous in all his years than my dad with his children (and even children not his own).  Luckily, he was easily pleased with friends, family, some famous fried chicken and fireworks.

One of three cakes!

One Bad Mother artillery shells.  It was bad
   The party went off without a hitch but it wasn't until today that I felt the enormity of it all.  That night after all the guests had left and we were packing up all my dad's leftovers and birthday gifts, I realized I had forgotten to sign our cards and told him I'd bring them over on his actual birthday.  Even though he insisted on no gifts, it seemed a little ridiculous that I was going to make a special trip to drop off cards.  Just the technological advances alone in the past seventy years have been more than monumental enough to make birthday cards seem silly.  If you can manage to avoid tragedy, accidents, disease, illness and hardships all those years, you've probably stopped collecting cards, souvenirs, fancy electronics, and trendy clothes.  Your relationships are your only true belongings.

   Following a trip across town to buy some things off Craigslist (for the girls' birthday party that is definitely going to be doused in Pinterest), I headed back to my neck of the woods when I got a text from a worried friend.  As is common in spring, severe thunderstorms had blown into the metroplex.  Only this time, they brought baseball-sized hail and multiple tornadoes with them.  I was still an hour from home but heard one of the tornadoes had touched down in the city where my husband is a fireman and was headed towards our home.

   I was terrified of what could happen to my husband while he was working (as if a normal day isn't stressful enough) and frightened that I wouldn't make it to pick up my other daughter from school in time before they put it in lockdown.  If you think I sound paranoid, consider my only recurring nightmares about tornadoes.  I am haunted by numerous vivid nightmares of the freight-train sounds, the dirt piercing my eyes and coating my nose and mouth, the force weakening me to collapse, the feeling of complete debilitation and vulnerability when I know I won't make it thirty feet to my children before the tornado, and its strength pulling me into its funnel.  For all you dream analyzers, sometimes I survive it or observe it from a distance, but the few times I was swept into it are hard to forget.  Here is a little timeline of our afternoon:

12:01pm-  Tornado on the ground in Arlington.  View footage here.
1:40- I heard about the storms and called my parents to ask them to pick up Little Girl.
1:45-  Husband gets moved to other district to cover for a fellow fireman whose home in Arlington was just hit by the tornado and had to leave work.
2:00- Tornado on the ground in my husband's now district two miles from the station, of course.
2:25-  Baby Girl and I met Little Girl and my parents at their house, across town from our home.  Whew.  We waited with blankets in the bathtub for the Tornado Warning to expire while the sirens blared.
3:30-  Tornado on the ground 10 miles SW from our neighborhood.
3:45-  Rotation center is now 4 miles from our home.  Luckily, it never got any closer. 

   It lifted off the ground right before our neighborhood and touched down again 6 miles northeast of our house.  Eerie.  Heart-breaking.  Amazingly, no deaths have been reported despite as many as seventeen tornadoes in the area.

   In the midst of all this, it was surprising how little I cared for all the pretty clothes, jewelry, TVs, decorations, furniture, etc. in the brand-new home we just spent a year of our lives perfecting.  I was just so grateful my children were protected and I was hopeful my husband was safe too.  Again, your relationships are your only true belongings.

   During these few hours I received phone calls and texts from family and friends checking on us.  At 3 o'clock I saw a call from a number I didn't recognize and answered it immediately thinking something had happened to my husband's phone and he was borrowing someone else's to check in with me.  It wasn't my husband.  It was my biological father.  Biological father.  Those two words are indicative of so much more, aren't they?  Long, complicated story short, my mom and biological father divorced after 15+ years of marriage when I was a baby, then my mom and my biological father's brother fell in love and got married a few years later, and have been married 27+ years.  So yes, my step-father is my uncle and his daughter, my cousin, is my half-sister, etc.  But to me, he's my dad and she's my sister.  (Are you keeping up? It's ok if you're not. Read it again.)

   I've seen my biological father (my dad's brother) less times in my life than I have fingers.  He has always used the excuse that it was too painful to be around my mom and dad when visiting me as a child.  By the time I had the means to go visit him, I was too hurt, abandoned, bruised, and bitter to follow through.  I've struggled with forgiving him for choosing to miss my entire life for as long as I can remember. 

   He never calls unless he has a bone to pick with my parents, wants to turn down the invitation to walk me down the aisle with his brother at my first wedding, wants to check on my brother who was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, wants to let his wife call me a "b" repeatedly on my answering machine, and now wants to check on our safety in the tornadoes.  Phone calls with him are always awkward and stinging, but I try to remain hopeful and kind.  Forgiving him is the hardest thing in the world for me.  I'm still trying.  After all, your relationships are your only true belongings.

   Needless to say, we never made it to the library or the gym today. My nerves are shot and I poured a cocktail as soon as my daughters' heads hit the pillow.  Between my dad turning 70, tornadoes threatening lives and homes, and a wound that will never heal, I had quite a day.  Those three events gave me clarity and made me realize that the to-do list can wait.  Trifecta.  So tonight I ate cookies with my girls while we watched Turtle Tales and giggled some more.  Trifecta.  And my husband came home safe and sound, but exhausted, the following morning.  I always forget that in addition to downed power lines and the usual car wrecks and fires, these kind of storms can trigger labor in pregnant women.  He must have had an interesting day, to say the least.

Here are some pictures of the damage five miles from our home taken the morning after:



Local businesses demolished.

I had to crop out deceased livestock mistakenly captured on camera.


Twisted ladder in a tree.

New utility poles already going up!

A bad picture of some tall grass flattened in a swirled pattern next to our house.  Ominous.

Here are some of WFAA's incredible photos from the storms:

Thank God we are all safe, our home was spared, and we're still able to enjoy things like our girls playing in the backseat and greeting my husband with the tightest of hugs when he comes home in the morning.


  1. Your honesty is transforming, friend. All wounds need air to heal, it is the paradox of healing and the pain of reopening old wounds. Thank you for reminding me of the hope in reopened wounds. Glad to hear that you and the people you love are safe and protected.

    1. Thank you friend! Thank you for sharing your beautiful spirit with me!

  2. Love ya... Pop Pop

  3. So glad You guys were safe. I heard the news and prayed everyone would stay safe. I have the same anxiety toward tornadoes. I still get tense just thinking about them. Loved this post