Brave Souls

My step-dad has family that lives on the West side of Houston, and they have decided to stay put. They are not in a designated flood zone, and hope to miss much of the storm. My prayers are with them.

Rainstorms have a grip on my heart. Not paralyzing, mind you, but do I like rain? Nope. I’m a Sunshine kind of girl.

My sister’s Family Baby Shower is Saturday, that is if the weather is not torrential. A transplant from Chicago more than 25 years ago, I can still hear my mother calling the sudden Texas summer storms by a name that has never left my mind. Every time it rains, I hear my own daughters repeat the name: “This is a Texas Toad-Choker for sure!”

The first Texas Toad-Choker that comes to mind was my first year at the State Fair. I was five years old, and there with my parents and our neighbors. Mother was pushing my little sister (yep, the one that’s about to give birth) in a stroller, my hand was under her hand on the actual stroller handle itself. Then the heavens opened up – no warning – like water dumped from a bucket on my head. Everyone scattered, I took my hand away from the stroller, away from my mother’s soft, safe grip, and I was l-o-s-t. I ran forward and back, calling to my mother, pleading with God to show me anyone familiar. I ran into a nearby dry-looking doorway, and I swear I saw all kinds of animals marching two-by-two up the stone path. Just then, a large policeman with a heavy Texas drawl told me that he’d take me to a place where I could find my lost parents. Sure enough, the sign over the doorway said, ‘Lost Parents’. My mother found me a short while later, and I had my arms crossed, tapping my foot, wondering where on Earth she had been. My mother hugged me tight and all was right in my five-year-old world again.

I remember sitting in the open garage on a lawn chair with my father, just watching the humongous drops splattering on the pavement, demolishing my driveway chalk artwork, bludgeoning the three leaves on the skimpy tree in our front yard, and what was left of the grass that had once been our lawn being washed away. I sat and watched big, fat drops of rain that looked like tiny mice scampering across the roof of our neighbor’s Chevy, grateful to have a safe, warm place to keep myself dry.

Fast forward twenty years to a night in winter, the one season of the year in Texas that you don’t find yourself wanting shorts. My sister (yep, the expectant one) and I left my father’s house on a stormy night, rounded the corner on the way out to the highway, then WHOOSH. A large amount of water came rushing down the hill to my left and pushed the car up onto the Landscaping of a stranger’s front yard. I looked out my window and saw that the rainwater was covering the door handle, and had a full-on freakout, right then and there. Why the adrenaline didn’t kick in then, I’ll never know. My genius little sister had the sense, being on the high-and-almost-dry side of the car, to open her door and get out. Let me say that she was not leaving me there. I remember a large, firm hand on the collar of my jacket, then I was out of the car. The next thing I remember is my dad coming to save us. By the time he got to where we had washed off the street to, all the water was gone. That’s Flash Flooding for ya!
The car had water in every component – minus the gasoline tank. We had the car repaired, then traded it in – and quick!

So for me, the thought of a hurricane puts my stomach in knots. Tornadoes, sheesh, I’m tougher than any twister. Earthquakes, nothing shakes me. But I am scared of floods. DH is going to make sure that the areas that retain water in our backyard are cleared out, because even a little rushing water makes me want to climb to the top of the tallest tree – and stay there. And there’s no way I can haul all three of our girls up a tree in a BabySling!

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