Y’all. The last 3 days have been crazy. In case you didn’t hear, it snowed in the South. And it didn’t just snow. We had an incorrect forecast, a storm that had the roads covered in ice in less than an hour, and a gazillion motorists all dumped out onto the roads at exactly the same moment. If you’re interested in reading what actually happened in and around Birmingham, here’s a great article: A Dusting of Chaos.
I, like many others, couldn’t make it home on Tuesday. Thankfully, I did make it to my mom’s house. If I had to be stranded anywhere, that was the best place to get stuck. And here’s the thing – it’s been a really long time since I had my mom all to myself for 48ish hours. Actually, it may be the first time ever.
It took me 4 hours to get there – a drive that normally takes about 15 minutes. I made the call to go to her house once I knew Daniel had gotten close enough to home to get to the girls. I got within 2 miles and parked my car in a parking lot to hoof it the rest of the way. After about a 1/4 of a mile, I hitched a ride with a lovely older gentleman named Leroy. Leroy had a 4 wheel drive Toyota and was heading my way. He was a hunter, a professional musician, a retired educator, a family man, a gardener, a talker, and an incredibly kind soul. I’ve promised him a visit to Birmingham’s 6th Avenue Baptist Church one Sunday to hear him play bass. However, after an hour or so, we’d only gone a little over a mile. I was getting antsy, so I decided to hoof it once again. I walked the last 1/2 a mile to Mom’s house where I discovered her, one of her best friends, Joyce, 5 children and fresh-out-of-the-oven baked spaghetti.
I spent the next couple of days at my Mama’s eating copious amounts of carbs, obsessively watching the news, and checking Facebook and Twitter. I read an entire novel in one day, and managed to live without my own things. It’s weird being stuck somewhere so familiar without any of your own stuff and having to borrow everything you need.
I got off easy. One of my friends got stuck in her car on the interstate for 22 hours. One friend had to spend the night at her child’s daycare. Lots of friends got stuck at their places of work while their families were scattered hither and yon. I had friends whose children had to spend the night at schools and/or daycares and/or other peoples’ houses without either of their parents. The educators in this town were amazing this week. Several citizens got stuck at my office because they couldn’t get down the road. I have 3 employees; only one made it home. She had to get her niece for her sister who couldn’t make it home. Another ended up in a coworker’s hotel room. That coworker got stuck at the office. And my last employee got stuck spending the night at Helena City Hall.
I finally got home after it began to thaw today, and we were able to retrieve Daniel’s truck where he had been forced to abandon it. Somehow, we don’t have a single insurance claim to file. Yes. We’re counting our blessings tonight.
If I were going to look at the silver lining to all this, it would have to be the time spent with my Mama. As a married adult with children, I don’t really have the opportunity to have her all to myself. It’s a memory I’ll always cherish. And I learned a couple of things while I was there.
- Mom’s hearing aids DEFINITELY work.
- I look incredible in my Mama’s and Mammaw’s clothes.
- I am not a fan of having to borrow deodorant from my Mother.
- Mom and I both love our phones.
- We wear the same shade and brand of foundation.
- I miss my precious family when I’m separated from them unexpectedly.
- I should have listened to my friend Susannah when she explained to me about B.O.B.s (or But Out Bags).
I also learned during this incredibly weird week that we all end up relying on the kindness of strangers. Daniel and I both hitch-hiked for the first time. We also gave rides to others in need. My mom fed me, clothed me, sheltered me, and tolerated me. All of my friends have similar stories, from people fetching their children to getting road closure updates via social media. I watched a town come together in crisis. I learned that I love my little Southern town and truly wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
The woman we gave a ride to today summed it up best when she said: “Well, I guess we know now that if the world ends tomorrow, people will still be nice to each other.”