When the Lightning From Storms Frighten Me


Dearest Readers:

Although someone might say it isn’t early morning, for me it is since I slept fairly well last night. Crawling out of bed just before 9:00 am, I yawned, stretched and was thankful for a bit of sleep.

Today Phil and I will go shopping. Seems he wants to go to Tanger Outlet. So, I suppose I’ll drink another cup of coffee, just to get me going!

Last night, we had another band of those dreadful storms we’ve been having lately. Driving in my car, every time I saw the lightning flash, my body jumped.

Why am I so frightened of lightning, you might ask? Allow me to explain. When I was a child, I recall my mother telling me if I did not behave…IF I wasn’t a “good girl,” God would send the lightning after me. I remember her saying, and I quote: “If you don’t behave God is gonna strike you dead with that lightning.”

Every time there was a storm with lightning, I would jump. Mama would laugh at me and say: “You’re such a stupid girl. God don’t love ugly and that’s why He sends the lightning to you. He wants the lightning to hit you. God don’t love ugly and you are one ugly thing. I hope God strikes you dead!”

I was the middle child. One of my sisters was quiet. Timid. She never questioned authority. The other two – I’m still not certain. Let’s just say, our childhood was not the typical childhood of four daughters.

As for me, I was boisterous. When I entered a room, I made an impression. Good or bad…I’m still not certain. I loved to hop on stage and let the world know I was around!

Once, while walking home from the library in Atlanta, Georgia, a summer storm horrified me. I saw the lightning flashing. I remember rushing. Running. I had to get home to get inside my closet so the lightning could not find me. I was horrified!

Arriving home, I grabbed a towel to dry my hair and face and I rushed into my closet, shutting the door tightly.

Stopping at a red light last night, Phil saw me jumping when the lightning flashed. He asked me why I was so afraid.

“Haven’t I told you what my mother did to me as a child and as a teenager?”

“What?” He asked, turning the radio down so he could hear me.

“When I was a child, my mother told me I must always be a ‘good girl.’ She said IF I wasn’t a good girl, God would send the lightning down to strike me dead.”

“Did she do that to your sisters?”

“I don’t know. We never discussed it.”

Although I have three sisters, I do not recall if we ever discussed the cruelties of our mother’s poisoned, venomous tongue.

I suppose even though I am now grown and smart enough to know her words were cruel, I should also know God isn’t a mean power. He is my strength. My faith. He is the power who made me what I am today.

God would never want anyone to be struck by lightning. Storms are simply storms, filled with energy, rain and power — but of a different kind.

How I wish I could get over my fear of lightning, but I suppose I will never accomplish that. All of my childhood, I was frantic. When friends would say they love to see the flash of lightning, I cringed. My body shook. My hands and legs trembled. I gasped. Sometimes I screamed. Lightning is bad. It’s gonna strike you dead!

As a newlywed, and years later, each time the lightning flashed at night, it would awaken me and scare me half to death. I wear a sleep mask now, to help keep the lightning away. Sometimes, I wear two sleeping masks, just to keep me safe. Yes. I know. It’s silly. After all, the lightning is only lightning. It reminds me of a mad, vicious animal, growling, searching for its next prey — ME!

Once I asked my mother why she said such cruel things to me about the lightning. She laughed, a cruel, vindictive laughter. I left the room. I knew she would never explain.

Today, more storms are forecast. If they occur, I will close my eyes and try to tell myself: this is only a storm. It will not hurt me. I will be fine.

Looking out the window, while writing this, the skies are thick with a blanket of gray. Treetops are moving, dancing the breath of an approaching storm. I do not hear thunder, nor do I see lightning. I’m hopeful we will have a rain storm. Nothing more.

Although I will see more lightning when these torrential storms arrive, I will remind myself that the approaching storms are not to harm me. The rains water our gardens. The breezing winds give us a bit of coolness after we’ve had such a hot summer, filled with sauna like temperatures. As for the lightning, for me, all it creates is a VIOLENT  energy. Sometimes a wicked energy. I can still hear my mother’s sharp tongue. Her cruel words. “You’re such a bad girl, and God don’t love bad girls. He’ll send the lightning to get you. You better be a good girl.”

Maybe I should’ve asked my mother: Just what do you think a good girl is? I’m a good girl. I obey you. I do as I am told. I don’t do drugs. I go to church and in school, I get good grades and I behave. Why can’t you see I am a GOOD GIRL! I’ve never gotten into any trouble – EVER! I’m a GOOD GIRL!!!

The winds are blowing harder now. My mimosa trees are dancing a soft ballet of motion, swaying ever so elegantly to the left and right. The grass is so tall it needs cutting again, and we cut earlier this week. No doubt there will be another storm today. I suppose I shall pray once again: Dear God. Please don’t let the lightning strike me dead like my mother wished when I was a child. Please keep me safe.

Glancing out the window again, the breeze is still. The mimosa trees are hardly moving. The skies still thick with the blanket of storms anticipated. Another day of ‘the calm BEFORE the storms.’

Dear God. It’s me again. Barbie. Please. When the storms arrive, and the lightning flashes, please remind me that you will keep me safe. Please don’t let the lightning strike me dead.

 

 

We Are Family…


Dearest Readers:
I suppose one could say this week has been an eventful week. A week of highs. Lows. Events. Thankfulness and most of all, Gratitude.
Early Tuesday, I left Charleston, driving to Georgia to visit with my sister and her family. My sister’s name shall remain anonymous. I believe in protecting privacy. We had a nice visit and dinner, planning the next day at the hospital. My sister was scheduled for a heart Cather. Her blood pressure has been rising, and she has been a bit tired. I suppose she should be tired since she is still working and on her feet a lot, and she chases after a darling little two-year-old great grand.
Early Wednesday morning, her family picks me up and off we drive thru the heart of Atlanta, GA traffic. I’m accustomed to traffic jams since we have so many as a daily routine now in Charleston. Arriving at the hospital, my sister checked in. We were told to remain in the waiting area. “Someone will come to get you later.”
My sister’s procedure was scheduled for 2:00 pm. It was about 10:00 am now. Because I am a coffee connoisseur, I smelled the freshly brewed coffee. I ask the attendant at the front desk where I could get some of that delicious aroma. He guided me to where it was. The coffee machine wasn’t a Keurig, although it worked on the same premise. I do not own a Keurig but a grind and brew machine, so I had ‘no clue’ how to operate it. Back to the attendant, I go. Yes, it was a blonde moment!
“Excuse me,” I say, using my flirty personality. “Just how does one operate this machine to get a cup of coffee?”
He smiled. A nice, young guy, dressed in pale blue, denim scrubs. He showed me how to operate the machine and within a few minutes, I had a hot cup of coffee! Most of you who read my blog will know, I’m not worth anything, nor can I function until I’ve had coffee in the morning! With my sister away getting prepped for her procedure, I enjoyed the coffee, not wanting to drink any coffee around her. That would be selfish and I am not considered to be a selfish person.
Tick Tock. The clock continued passing the time away as we sat. And SAT. AND SAT! Finally, we were called back to see my sister. She rested in a bed. IV solution hooked up, along with all the machinery. Ready and waiting for the infamous 2:00 hour. She appeared to be in good spirits. Tick. Tock.
I suppose I should report here I was lacking major sleep. Although it was Wednesday, my average sleep for this week was about four to five hours nightly. So exhausted I wanted to scream or cry, just like I do when I am fighting to sleep during stressful weeks, I kept reminding myself I was not stressful. I had prayed, and prayed, for God to keep my sister safe and for her not to require open heart surgery. How I remember open heart surgery since my husband had a quadruple bypass in 1998. I remember touching his skin after his surgery. His skin was clammy and freezing to the touch. He was connected to a ventilator and other machinery. He did not respond to my voice or my touch. The nurse caring for him was named Kevin. “He is highly sedated, so he cannot respond to you, but he is all right.” Easy for him to say since he was the attending nurse, and I, the wife of the recovering patient, had never seen my husband in this condition. Feeling a bit faint, I inhaled. Exhaled. And walked out, rushing quickly to the waiting area, spending late hours at the waiting area. Waiting. No doubt this would be a late night.
About midnight, I sent word to Kevin that I was going home. I left my cell and landline phone numbers with him, in the event he needed to contact me.
Now, here I sit with my niece, awaiting the hour to start my sister’s procedure. At 2:03 pm, she was wheeled back to the operating room. We met with the doctor prior to the procedure. He mentioned he would do a heart Cather, looking for the leaks and or blockages. If a blockage was found, he would do a stint. He had a soft, kind patient and family mannerism and I liked him. He took the time to answer our questions, reassuring us she would be fine.
Two-and-a-half hours later, we were becoming a bit tired from sitting and not knowing anything. I approached the kind attendant at the desk. He reassured me he would check to get a status report. A few minutes later, we were called back. My sister’s procedure was complete and the doctor would see us in a few minutes. My sister was removed from recovery. We stood next to her bed. Her color was great. No paleness and no ‘deathly white’ like my husband was after his heart surgery.
According to the doctor (sorry, I cannot remember his name), my sister had “about an 80% blockage, so he performed a stint. She has a few small blockages that I believe we can care for with medications and getting her cholesterol lower. She will spend the night here and should go home tomorrow.”
I breathed a sigh of relief! My sister was going to be AOK! Thank you, God!
After spending most of the day at the hospital, my niece and I were exhausted. I was hoping I would sleep that night. I suppose although I felt I was not ‘that worried’ – Obviously, I was and that is why I failed to relax and sleep.
Now, home in Charleston again, I am happy to report last night I got at least eight hours of sleep. I awoke after 8:30 am. Normally, I am awake and moving around by 7:30. Yes, I needed rest. After a week of speaking to God like He was my closest friend, I am thankful my sister phoned me to let me know about her procedure. And I am thankful I was able to make the plans necessary to get to her and her family prior to the procedure, and I am grateful for a caring, loving sister who considers me a part of her family.
“What?” You might be asking. “Of course you are family.”
Only those with a close family would ask such a question.
My sister and I have worked for years to repair the damage of our childhoods, and now, we are family.
As the song says:
“We are Family. I’ve got my sisters with me.”
For me, I will say:
“We are Family. I’ve got one sister with me…”
Yes, I am thankful for the one sister I am blessed to bond with and to share life with. Most of all, I am thankful she came through her heart Cather without any problems.
No doubt, God was holding her hand during the procedure.
Thank you, God, for all you do for those who believe!
Yes. We are Family…!

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Here’s To Beautiful Mornings and Sunshine…


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Dearest Readers:

At the moment, it is a beautiful morning in Charleston, SC. Believe me, the weather can change in this historical, holy city in only the blink of an eye. Take last night, for example. The roaring thunders and the flashing, horrific lightning frightened me all night long. Reportedly, forecasters predict more storms for today. How I pray the storms arrive during the day and not in the heat of the night.

Why? If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will recognize how the lightning and thunder horrifies me. I give my mother the credit for those fears.

Last nights storms were no different, except they arrive in the middle of the night. My husband tells me I should wake him up when I am so frightened, but I do not. I keep telling myself this is only a storm – in the middle of the night. The lightning is not coming for you, like my mother said. It is just a storm. The rain will water the yard, my flowers and the grass. This is only a storm. This too shall pass.

I toss and turn during the storms. Last night we had three storms. I heard one, and I saw the flashing lightning at about 1:30am. The next round of lightning I heard crashing, lighting up my dark bedroom after 3:00am. The final round was about 5:15am, or so. With each storm, I tried to cover my eyes with a sleeping mask. I placed another sleeping mask over the first one. When I close my eyes, I can still see light, so I must wear these masks; nevertheless, last night, with two masks covering my eyes, I could still see the lightning. My body jumped. I gasped with fear, and then I whispered to myself: This is only a storm. Just close your eyes, turn away from the windows and go back to sleep. Throwing the covers back, I got up, walked around the house, checked on my precious pups, and saw another flash of lightning. I jumped. Never did sleep happen. According to my Fitbit, my body got four hours of sleep last night. It’s no wonder why I feel so exhausted.

When I say my nightly prayers, I suppose I should pray for God to give me strength so I can release my fear of lightning.  Yes, I pray nightly, although I still have difficulty knowing how to pray. I do not pray like I’ve heard other people pray. I call my prayers my intimate conversations with God. I feel cleansed whenever I pray…like God hears my prayers and He eases my pain. How I wish He could ease the pain of my fears of lightning. Maybe I’ll add that comment to my prayer list!

Looking out my window while writing this, I see darkness ahead. Rain is supposed to return at about 11:10am today, according to the Weather Channel app alert. How I pray we have our storms today while I vacuum and clean the house. At least during the day it is easier to cope with these torrential thunder storms.

How about you, readers? Do you have a fear about lightning? Looks like the rain is here now, at 11:03am. I hear thunder. Think I’ll turn the vacuum cleaner on and get busy, after I shut this computer down.

Below, I am posting a photograph of beautiful Angel Oaks, Johns Island, SC. When my husband left for Vietnam, I visited this tree several times before I moved back to Columbus, GA. I remember sitting on the grass, having some deep thoughts and prayers that God would bring my husband home safely to me from Vietnam. Funny thing about it, my husband returned from Vietnam, but the soldier I married is still over there. I suppose I was a bit silly to think someone could go to war and come home as the same person. That did not happen. Vietnam changed things…but that is a subject I will wait to write later, in my freewriting challenge. Looks like a storm is brewing outside, so I must shut this computer down, while praying if we have lightning I can cope better today while working in the house.

 

Angel Oaks, a historical and breathtaking tree located on Johns Island, SC. A place for inspiration and the appreciation of nature with all of her beauty!DSC_0013

Lightning…Thunder…and The Roar Of Chattahoochee Child…


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Dearest Readers:
It is early on a beautiful Sunday morning in Charleston, SC. The weather forecast for today is H-O-T — AGAIN! Reportedly, it is supposed to get to 85. No doubt, it will be another steamy hot day. Stepping outside in the heat of the day is like stepping into a sauna. Yesterday, we had a late storm brewing after we went to bed. I suppose I slept through it, which is something I do not normally do.
Whenever I see lightning, I jump out of my skin, almost. My husband says even when sleeping, I will hear the thunder and lightning and jump or tremble. I do not remember doing it. Just a few days ago, we had a summer storm in the afternoon. I was in route to get my doggies from the groomer. Every time I saw the lightning flash, I jumped, while driving. It isn’t a pretty sight. Just how can a grown woman be so frightened by lightning?
I suppose I should share my story here. If you follow my blog and read a bit of the “Chattahoochee Child” stories I’ve posted, you will understand. During my childhood, I was always the child with an opinion. In my dad’s diary, he wrote, and I quote since he is deceased now: “Barbara is really a child with opinions. She likes to get noticed, and even though she is only five-years-old, she does vocalize her thoughts, rather well.”
Humph! I cannot imagine what he was referring to, but after high school graduation, I have learned to ‘vocalize my thoughts and opinions…’ AND — I DO question authority. I suppose it is the journalist deep inside me. I suppose you could say, during high school I was quiet. I confess I went to six high schools during eighth grade thru graduation. What? Might you say? Most people only go to one high school. It is simple. My family and I moved a lot — like gypsies. So, just when I got comfortable in one high school, off we go to another, so no one really got a chance to get to know me until we moved to Columbus, Georgia. Finally, I was able to attend only one high school for two-and-a-half years until graduation. Figure that out, if you can! Let’s just say, during high school I was considered shy and a wallflower. Heck. I was afraid to get to know anyone and forget the high school boys. All they wanted to get to know was —! Never did I date high school boys. They always had ‘rushing hands,’ and I did not want to have a battle with them. Their libido and testosterone were quite active, so I decided I would not date them.
Since I’m free writing, it is back to my fears of thunder and lightning.
When I was a child, my mother disciplined me constantly. “You ask too many questions,” she said. “Just do what I tell you to do and stop being so opinionated… “You stupid girl. One day I hope you’re struck by lightning…just so you’ll know you shouldn’t say so much or ask so much.”
My mother loved to call me her ‘stupid girl.’ How I hate that description!
I suppose it is easy to say, as a child, I probably had too many opinions, but when lightning occurred, I remember my mother saying, “I hope you get struck by lightning soon.”
Each time I saw lightning, I cringed, sometimes rushing to hide in the closet of my bedroom so I would not see the lightning. When thunder roared, I screamed. Still, to this day, when we have storms I do my best to hide under covers, close the blinds, or stay in a room where I will not notice the roaring sounds and sights of thunder and lightning.
I still hear my mother’s cruel words. If my memory is correct, and I do believe it is when she would say, “Girl, I hope that lightning strikes you down,” I felt as if she had no love within her body for me. The other girls in the family never heard those words, only me. All of my three sisters did whatever our mother ask them to do. As for me, you guessed it. I placed my hands on my hips and I would say, “Why must I do that? Why is it only me that cooks and cleans?”
My mother’s reply: “Stupid girl. Just shut your mouth and do it before I get a switch.”
One of my sisters could not even boil water when she married. The other two, expected the men to do everything. I suppose they got a real ‘wake-up call’ in marriage, and maybe that’s why their marriages did not work out. I haven’t a clue. I do not pry into their lives. Marriage is truly a work-in-progress, every day!
I do know one of my sisters had a brutal marriage. Her husband loved to hit on her, leaving bruises and scratches she attempted to cover up with makeup. In 2002 we drove to Michigan to rescue her and her son from a safe house.
It is easy to observe I was the Cinderella of our family, or maybe I was the ugly stepchild. Regardless, I was the one who did the cleaning, cooking, and housework. My mother continued her verbal and physical abuse after my parent’s divorce. As for me, I could not wait to leave the family. Growing up where abuse is shared like daily activities, I vowed to myself I would break the mold and never behave in such a manner. My children would not grow up afraid of lightning and thunder.
Last night, I woke myself up listening to a voice speaking. Recognizing this was my ‘sleeping voice,’ I heard myself saying:
“Your mama is a whore and a drunk. Just look at that dress she wore tonight to her reunion. A long black dress with a plunging neckline and a low back. Only a whore would wear that.”
My son was seven-years-old when he heard his grandmother describing me. Just like me, he was opinionated. Reportedly, he did not appreciate what his grandmother was saying about me, so he chose to speak up and defend me.
“My mommy is not a whore and she only drinks wine. She is not a drunk. I’ve never seen my mommy drunk. Don’t say those things about her.”
My mother was caring for my son on that night. She promised him they would have a good time. I should’ve known she would pull some of her stunts, but I was hoping I could give her a second chance.
Awakening from the Nightmare, I sat up in bed, remembering the scenario like it was yesterday. I remember when we arrived to pick him up, he was sound asleep. The next morning, a bit early after a night of partying at a high school reunion, my son rushed to me. “Mommy,” he said. “Granny said you were a whore and a drunk. You’re not a whore and a drunk, are you Mommy?”
“No,” I said, scooping him up in my arms. “Mommy is not a whore or a drunk. Please don’t say the word whore.”
“It’s a bad word?” He asked.
“Yes. Whore is a bad word. A very bad word.”
He looked into my eyes.
“Whore is a woman who sleeps with lots of men, and that is not your mommy. I sleep with your daddy only. And I am not a drunk.”
Later, we drove to my mother’s house to confront her and say goodbye. When we arrived, my mother was still in bed. I knocked on her door, then I opened it and let the words fly. I warned my husband to let me handle the situation.
“How could you call me a whore and a drunk?” I asked. “Especially in front of my son. Your grandchild. Just what kind of grandmother are you?”
My mother opened her eyes and struggled to sit up. “I did no such of a thing.”
My son burst into the room. “Yes, you did,” he said, tears falling down his face. “You called my mommy a whore and a drunk. Sorry for saying that word, Mommy, but she did say it!”
I rushed him out of the room. I knew this scenario was getting ugly.
After a verbal battle, I knew I was defeated. My mother would never admit she said those words, nor would she apologize. My husband knocked on the door.
“We’re leaving,” I said. “I cannot tolerate this abuse anymore. It’s bad enough I tolerated her abuse all of my childhood, but to say those things in front of my child is something I will never tolerate. How could you, Mom? How could you be so cruel to him?”
On that morning, as we drove home to Charleston, I decided I would not see my mother again. Arriving home, I had several messages on the answering machine from my mother. I erased them all, not wanting to listen to her cruelties anymore. There comes a time in life when we must cut the cords of abuse. My time was now. I had to protect my child.
Motherhood is never easy. We all have regrets of things we would change, if only we could. We would be more patient and kind. We would not shout, nor would we lose our temper. One rule I kept is the rule of if I am angry, I will walk away. I certainly had times when I saw my mother inside me, and when that occurred, I would go to a window and pray. Just like my maternal grandmother taught me.
As for my mother and I? Rarely did I go back to Columbus, Georgia. I attempted another reunion, stopping by to see my mother. A surprise visit. We stayed for a few minutes and left. We had hotel reservations and another reunion to attend. Neither of us felt welcomed. My mother did not rush to hug me, like other mothers do, nor did she show any affections. Her health was deteriorating and she limped when she walked. Four years later, I phoned her telling her I was coming to Columbus to attempt to ‘bury the hatchet.’
On that visit, we had another shouting match, so I left, in tears. My mother always had a way of getting to me, bringing me down. Making me feel worthless and unlovable. Was I really such a horrible person? After a bit of soul-searching while driving, I recognized I was a good person. My mother refusing to love me was her problem, but as a child and a grown woman, I still craved a mother’s love.
How I wanted and prayed my mother would change, but she did not. In 2000, she suffered a stroke. Her left side was virtually paralyzed. I drove to see her on Mother’s Day, bringing her a gift wrapped box of pearl earrings. She attempted to speak, but only slurred her words. When I opened the box of pearl earrings, she gasped and touched her right ear. I placed the earrings in her ears, and she attempted to smile, her face wrinkling with a scrunched lip and new wrinkles I did not remember.
I never saw her again. She lived in a nursing home for the remainder of her days. I sent letters to her, gifts and when her dentures got broken, I paid for a new set of dentures. On September 11, 2002, she died. A questionable death, to say the least. When my sister phoned in the late afternoon of September 12, her question to me was: “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”
Dreadfully ill with bronchial asthma, I did not attend the funeral. The question of “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?” played in my mind. I made a few phone calls, including a phone call to the coroner’s office, and the nursing home. Never were those calls returned. I suspect the reason for my question was a simple my mother died under questionable circumstances.
Did I want to stir the pot and get these answers? Since I was so ill and weak, I chose to take care of myself since my husband was away on business in Italy. I needed to rest and get well.
Those years and those nightmares of my mother still play in my mind as the dreams did last night. Although my mother was a difficult woman and not exactly mother of the year, she was my mother. I did not hate her. I lost respect for her over the years, and I worked diligently to improve our relationship, but it wasn’t meant to be; nevertheless, the way she died is questionable and I suspect my sister knows the real story. She will not share it. I’ve done enough research to complete my story, “Chattahoochee Child.” I pray my mother is at peace.
I pray I will not have any more nightmares about my mother. They always leave me shaken and heartbroken but today is a new day. Maybe last night’s nightmare was a result of the lightning and thunder? The sun is shining today. Clouds are overcast, but it is another beautiful day and I am certain it will be another steamy day of perspiration (or is it glitter that women release in the heat) while I attempt another day of yard work.
My husband and I plan to work in the back yard of our home today, moving the debris of weeds, tree branches and dead limbs he worked on yesterday. I must say, I’m not looking forward to being in the heat, but once I am outside, I will work hard to get everything thrown away, and if a storm brews, or if I hear lightning, just watch me run to the back door to get to safety. I cannot get over my fear of lightning, regardless what I do or tell myself. After all, it is only lightning. It hasn’t struck me down — YET!