Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fear of Lightening

I flashback to being a very small child in our little green house in Virginia where storms are common and fierce. I’m with my mother and her whole body is shaking in terror. The purest form of fear that I have ever seen in a person SINCE. (I’d say “before”... but this is one of the earliest memories I can ever remember in my life... so there's not much "before" to compare.)  

I have seen examples of fear in movies like the little girl in the first Jurassic Park Movie... the scene where the two kids are eating in the cafeteria and the girl is about to take a bite of green jello when she spots a dinosaur lurking in the shadows behind her brother. Yea! Kinda like THAT-kind-of-FEAR.... SHAKING-GREEN-JELLO-FEAR! But movies don’t compare to seeing it for yourself in real life. 

"When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance." Exd 20:18

Moms body would shake to the point that she could barely walk and she would hold onto the door frames and furniture as she passed by, and her eyes were as big as saucers.  Her fear was justifiable and verifiable as I would learn the story well enough to tell to others in her defence if they happened into our midst during one of these storms. 

Chairs like my Nanny's that were struck by Lightening.
{missed my chance to buy these @ thrift store. dang it!}
When momma was about two or three year old she was sitting on her mothers lap in the steel framed kitchen chair of their two room house during a lightening storm. Reportedly, lighting came in through the kitchen window and struck the base of the chair spinning the two of them, and the chair, in a circle around the floor. There were several adult witness to this amazing event. {I've got a call into one of them.... still waiting"  My Nanny told me later that the strike had left a burn mark on the floor that she could never get completely cleaned up.  She’d say: “If that house were still standing today, I swear that mark would still be there.” 

After that “enlightening experience”... my momma was petrified by the sound of thunder and immobilized by the sight of lightening. Nanny told me the additional things that she used to do during the storms to help momma ‘brave the storm’, but she said it was difficult for her because she herself had become a tad (petrified) leery of storms herself because of their spinning chair experience. Nanny said that it took the hair off her arms and, “Yes, I’ve been struck by lightening, and I survived. And lightening never strikes in the same place twice.” I often wondered if she ever sat in that same chair, in that same spot during a storm just because someone told her that. 

{Check out this YouTube video* of a lightening strike. 
This is the kind of storm that I grew up with on a regular basis in Virginia. While watching the video I screamed AND IT WAS ONLY ON MY COMPUTER!!! But my own scare was reassured... because my 20 y.o. son ALSO JUMPED as we sat huddled on the couch watching and re-watching the video! Still make me nervous.
*language alert: the gal hollers out "Oh, *hit!" mili-seconds after the 'double strike'. 
Can't say that I wouldn't have said the same!}

Nanny, as did my momma with me, would systematically go around and shut all the storm windows on the house (which I almost missed today!) She would leave the storm doors open till the last minute before the rain came. The first blast of air that comes in on the storms front is usually the coolest and one good breeze whipping through the stale air before the downpour would not only cool the house down, but would leave it with a fresh clean smell.  

{Closing the storm windows (while putting the screens UP) was an important pre-storm duty. Failure to do this important duty would result it wet window sills. And if the wooden window sills were left to the long lasting effects of being soaked in water, then the wood would warp, bend, shift and twist and would cause real challenges when opening or closing the windows. If this were to have ever happened (thankfully it never did to my knowledge) my granddaddy would have to then replace/repair the window. OHHHH and you didn’t want him to do that kind of work when it was something that could have been clearly preventable over time! Time was precious to him and working to fix a preventable ‘break’ really upset him.}

Nanny did her best with momma I’m sure. I remember many a storms at Nanny’s house where after the business of securing the house was completed we would all retreat into quiet and solitude with a book or craft until the storm was over. This was what Nanny had done for many years to calm a small child who had once been so traumatized after being struck by lightening (or at least struck the chair she was sitting in). 

Momma had learned to control her outward reactions to storms by the time I was old older. We used to hear stories about our 'local claim to fame': a local Park Ranger who worked atop the Skyline Drive and held the Guinness Gook of World Records for having been struck by lightening the most times of any human being and still survive!  {not too sure of the accuracy of this article... I was always told that the Ranger shot himself in the head. But really Cool lightening pix!}  Like THAT story was reassuring to my mother? 

Ironically Roy Sullivan (see the stats section... very interesting!) committed suicide years later in life :-( due to a broken heart. I was never sure whether-or-not this information about Ranger Sullivan (Read Poem herewas of any comfort to my mother in overcoming her fear, but she did learn to control her physical reactions to it over time.

Whenever there was an eminent storm on the horizon mom would go around the house (while she still had control of her body and her mind was not riddled in fear) and she would turn the TV set off and unplug all of the electrical appliances and the phone. She did this because someone had once told her that a lightening strike could come through those lines and electrocute you. Not sure if this is a proven fact or not... but to this day... I don’t like to talk on the phone during a storm. 

After all the “hatches were battened” mom and I would retreat to the living room... far away from windows... and sit on a wooden (green leather look) sofa and we would wait the storm out together.  I knew she was still very afraid, but she assured me that there was really nothing to be afraid of and that I needed to decide for myself if I really had anything to fear and not just copy her actions (that stuck with me for a very long time and I still struggle with it). If dad was home, the three of us would all crawl into their bed and ‘count’ the seconds between the lightening strikes and ‘bumpers’ to see how far away the storm was from us.  This often resulted in being lulled into a comfy sleep that has NO COMPARISON!  

Another story of lightening striking inside a house! 
Over many years I have re-trained myself from being PETRIFIED of major thunder and lightening storms to being EXHILARATED my them (I still JUMP which makes the kids laugh). The major factor in my decision to NOT BE AFRAID? I didn’t want my children to learn "to be afraid", from me (or anyone else for that matter)! My older children remember watching their grandma "in the midst of the storm", and they remember the stories we told them of how her fear was born, and how “her fear” was a reality. We often tried to explain to the kids that “her fear” did not have to be “their fear”. {nurture vs. nature???}

{new pic of sunshine day... which occurred shortly after the 10 minute downpour.}

I hope and pray my children remember that they can overcome ANY fear. 
I pray that they do not judge others who have fears different from their own. 
I pray that they learn from their fears (gotta put them to use some how!)
But most importantly...  I hope they remember to 
"Shut the Storm Windows!" {joke}

Daisy Mae wants to know
What fear have you had to overcome in your life and what did you do {or do you plan to-do} to overcome that fear?

1 comment:

  1. Spiders. I hate spiders. I used to go catatonic around even a small one., I can be outside and work near them without freaking out now. :) I still don't want them in my house and I'm not so 'over it' that I'd go pick one up, but I appreciate them and I'm actually glad they are around. I still nearly pee if I get too close to a big one. :p