Most of you know about the recent tornadoes that swept through my sweet home Alabama. It was a terrible day and I don’t mean to make light of the immense suffering and tragedy that so many experienced, but I do want to share what was going on in the little Webber corner of the world that day.
As a native of Huntsville, I have grown accustomed to tornado sirens and watches and warnings. Up until that fateful day, hearing my child frantically saying she needed to go potty alarmed me much more than hearing sirens. We have warnings all the time around here. However, eventually I just could not ignore the potential for danger.
I emptied out the game closet underneath the stairs, lined the walls with our couch and chair cushions, put the girls’ bike helmets on them, and herded everyone in. The power had already gone out from the first round of storms earlier that day, so there we were, stuffed in the closet, armed with Tinkerbell lanterns and a pig flashlight that oinks every time you turn it on (we were the picture of good safety preparation…I don’t think we even own an adult flashlight).
Picture this if you will. It’s dark in there. It’s hot. It’s cramped. The pig is oinking continually. The girls are starting to get unhappy in these conditions. They’re hungry. They’re thirsty.
But it was about to get immeasurably worse.
One word: HANK.
Olivia quickly realized that her precious puppy was not in the closet. He was roaming the house, risking life and paw, left to fend for himself through whatever was coming our way.
This just would not do. She begged and pleaded and I saw the emotion on her face when she moved closer to her Tinkerbell light. What could I do? We might lose our home, but to lose the puppy would be an unbearable loss. So, as any good mother would do, I (reluctantly) agreed to bring Hank in the closet with us.
Things were going okay at first. Hank, just happy to be with us and trying to figure out why in the world we were in the closet, panted and sat quietly with Olivia. That lasted about 2 seconds, then he was bounding all over everyone, licking everything in sight, chewing on little fingers and toes, and being in general a maniac.
I decided it was worth the risk to leave the safety of the closet long enough to get him a bone to chew on in place of my children, so I ventured out, deciding to also get the kids a snack. I quickly made my way back and handed out the treats. This worked for about 1.2 seconds before Hank was going bezerk again, climbing on the cushions, stealing the girls’ snacks (which caused huge uproars of yelling and screaming) and finding ways to get his rear end right in our faces.
But even then, things were not as bad as they would be.
There is a quality about little Hank that is not exactly endearing. In fact, it has been an ongoing problem ever since that fateful day when Hank joined our family. I’ve tried to reason with him that he really needs to work on this, but it seems like this problem is here to stay.
Hank suffers from chronic flatulence.
It is bad. Really bad. He can clear a room faster than a room full of daddies trying to avoid changing an awful bomb of a diaper. It is as though Hank survives on a diet entirely composed of beans. He has made the kitchen smell so bad that we cannot eat our dinner. He has so poisoned the air in the minivan that my youngest begins heaving in her carseat and all the humans in the vehicle stick our heads out the windows while little Hank calmly sits in the back.
This was one of those moments. There we were, fearing for our lives, praying for protection, when suddenly the very air we were breathing became life threatening. It hit us at once, like a wave of poison gas forcing us to choose death by tornado or death by asphyxiation.
Leighanne, of course, began gagging. I could just picture her throwing up on my couch cushions. Olivia and Lauren were coughing and begging to be let out of the closet. Hank was just sitting there, illuminated by the Tinkerbell lantern, tongue hanging out and what could only be described as a smirk on his face.
I had a deadly decision to make: suffocate, or take our chances out of the closet where we would face certain death if our home was hit.
They say adults should put on their own oxygen mask before helping others. I chose to come out of the closet. I made my children stay put. I burst out of the open door, gasping for fresh air and waiting for the wave of nausea to pass.
And so, I am very pleased to say our little puppy was protected and safe that day. He continues to struggle with flatulence, but our hope is that one day, some day, we will be able to be in a confined area without 1.) being mauled, or 2.) wishing for a gas mask.
That is my story of the tornado day in Alabama. Praying for those who are still putting the pieces of their lives back together. Also praying for Hank to stop eating beans.