Home > Uncategorized > Three Weeks After The Diagnosis: Home with Hospice and the Tornado

Three Weeks After The Diagnosis: Home with Hospice and the Tornado

Most of our questions had been answered.  We knew Mom’s time would be short, perhaps even unpleasant, but there was no avoiding this reality.  When it comes to sickness and suffering, a person can ignore it, which usually leads to anger, or a person can embrace it.  Embracing it doesn’t mean that you like it or even find it remotely pleasant, but you have the choice to either allow your circumstances to dictate your emotional response or for you to manage your emotions in spite of your circumstances.  One thing I learned from my mother is that you can walk through hell with a smile on your face.  She would never let hard times keep her down.

While Mom was in ICU, Rob flew to town followed by his wife Jeanine a couple of days later.  Jason arrived over the weekend.  Mom was moved to a private room and was visited and surrounded by her sons, her grandson, and her many friends.

On Monday, the doctor released her to go home and we took her back home in the care of hospice.  As soon we settled her in her room and her new hospital bed, her dogs were allowed in the room and even one in her bed.  It was exactly as she wanted.

With Rob and Jeanine staying with Mom for the week, she was in good hands and I got a slight reprieve.  I stopped by the house three times a day, but I didn’t have to be there for hours on end.  On Tuesday, I stopped by at lunch to sit with her for a bit.  I left her house and rushed home to grab a bite to eat.

Just before I left home the tornado sirens started.

“This is nothing,” I said to Angela who was working from home.  “The city is just being overly cautious.  It’s not even raining outside.”

Like I know anything about tornadoes.

I went to get something from my car and hail started pouring down so I moved my car into the garage.  The tornado sirens started sounded again.   I turned on the TV and the weather forecaster said “Tornadoes have been spotted in Kennedale and are headed towards Pantego.”

“Hey, we’re in that direct path,” I said aloud.

The tornado sirens sounded repeatedly.  Angela and I took cover in the closet underneath the stairs.  The power went out.  We heard rain and the tornado sirens.

Then, we heard the loudest screeching noise, as if we were standing next to two cars in a head-on collision.  Immediately after that, we heard the loudest roar imaginable.  It reminded me of the monster from the show LOST.  The noise seemed to last forever, but it passed quickly.  Silence followed the roar.

I waited five minutes before leaving the closet.  I opened the front door, expecting to see a few branches lying on the ground.

“Oh my God” was the only thing that came out of my mouth.  Someone, something, had devastated our street.  Shingles and debris were everywhere.  Whole sections of a wooden fence were in our driveway.  Tree limbs had been knocked down.  Entire trees had been uprooted and pushed over.  I took ten steps out of the house and then the tornado sirens started again so I rushed back inside.

Ten minutes later, after the sirens had stopped again, I opened the back door and discovered the source of that loud metal sound.  The metal roof from St. Barnabas United Methodist Church was wrapped around our back patio.  I noticed that our fence, all three sides of it, was either flattened or gone.  More tree limbs were down.

I went to the front yard and found the Boy Scout trailer from the Methodist church resting on my air conditioning unit and leaning against my garage.  People came out of their homes and were as shocked as I was.  Some were missing parts of their roof and their windows were destroyed.  Although our street had been hit, I learned that our damages, though significant, paled in comparison to those of my neighbors.

I texted Rob to see if the tornado had hit Mom’s or passed by.  Fortunately, it had passed.

With the help of friends and neighbors, we began clearing away the debris and cleaning up the mess.  For a couple of days, I put aside one tragedy for another.  By Friday, most of the debris had been cleaned up and hauled off while Mom continued to be entertained by the visits of family and friends.

As I removed branches and dragged sections of fence to the street, I was reminded of the words from a friend.  “The human spirit can withstand so much, much more than we can imagine.”  From the outside, a person may not think it possible to endure, that the situation is too much, but as we walk through it ourselves we find that can tolerate much more than we thought possible.

With family and friends, we survive, putting one foot in front of the other and at other times just stopping to catch our breath.  Things that once seemed so critical pass away as the irrelevant items they are.  And we make the choices that determine how we respond to crises.  I don’t possess any control over who becomes ill or where the tornadoes land.  My power rests solely in how I react and respond.

That isn’t to say I didn’t blow my top or feel overwhelmed at times.  We’re only human and after a couple of deep breaths, those emotions passed.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Pamela Stout
    April 14, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I had no idea you all had so much damage from the tornatos. Praise the Lord you all were safe!

  2. Kim McNelis
    April 14, 2012 at 8:10 am

    You put a great positive look into a grim situation. You have a great talent with words. I’m glad everyone was safe from the storm. Blessings!

  3. April 14, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Hey nephew, i just wanted you to know that just because we’re not in constant contact, that i’m still in touch. my thoughts and prayers are with you, family, brothers, and of course your Mom. Pam was there with my Mom and i remember the help she was to her. In our family their are no ex”es so she has always remained family. I feel the love in your heart, i see the warmth in your words as you speak, and i through your eyes i see the passion you hold for your loved ones. NO one knows what go’s on in your mind, because all your tears don’t tell,,,.but, i know GOD is with you, and will soften the pain..We love you , and we’re here..for all of you..Uncle Bubba,,,Aunt Diane

    • April 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      I always appreciate hearing from you. Thank you both

  4. April 14, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Chris this is so well written and so true. Your mom and family have been in my prayers since I heard about her illness. The quote you made about one foot in front of the other reminds me of a poem….see the link below


  5. Mary Gibson
    April 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Chris, I worked with your mom at Unicare. She is daily in my thoughts and prayers, as is her family. May God help you through this difficult time and give you peace. I lost a brother to cancer and watched him through this time. I pray that Pam is not in a lot of pain. Please let her know that Mary Gibson is thinking about her and praying for her. God bless you all.

  6. Brenda A
    April 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Our prayers go out to you & all your family. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they are heartfelt. We’ll touch base when we return to states.

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