I’m not one to always follow the rules…

Never begin a story talking about the weather. That’s the general rule, but as you see from the title of my inaugural post, yet another taboo, I’m not one to always follow the rules. I’m a rebel. A nonconformist. A fearless writer about to open with a tale of the worst storm that’s shaken my house in a decade simply because it fits. It wants—nay, needs—to kick off this blog.

So…humor me. Let me toss convention out the window and introduce myself this way; it will all come together in the end.

It was a Monday not too long ago, finished off in the usual manner: a night spent watching Dancing with the Stars from my armchair as Rameses lay on the ottoman, his head slung over my ankles. Snuffles and snorts swirled the smoky air above Mom’s recliner; clickety-clicks trickled from the office, where Sis wrapped up her evening playing games on the computer.

With some gentle prodding, Mom shuffled off to bed and by the time the last B-list celebrity hit the boards, it was time for me to hit the sack. Rams danced at the door for his final trip outside, then promptly high-tailed it to the room to get a bigger piece of the bed. The stinker.

Once settled, on came the bedroom TV, timed for an hour, and down sank my head, deeper into the pillow as I drifted off to the hyper-nasal drone of The Nanny. If I could fall asleep through that, I could sleep through anything. Or so I thought.

Fluffy baseball bats swatted my head, missing all the butterflies sipping nectar from my ears. Ah…they’re gone now. Wait…there they are again…only more of them. Ouch! That one had a splinter…or something. What the—? It wasn’t fluffy bats, but an onslaught of paws, unrelenting and becoming increasingly…painful.

I cracked open an eyelid. “Shh…what is it, boy?” I mumbled, pulling my hand from the warmth of the bedclothes to calm Rams’ shaking body. He appeared to almost skitter across the floor.

Erratic flashing lit the room, answering my question. The late winter storm that our inept weatherman predicted would “definitely stay to the north of us” was barreling right down on us, and I became aware of a most deafening noise in the room, a howling so intense, so LOUD, it really did sound like a freight train screeching by. I was sure a tornado was ripping up my yard.

Tumbling down to Rams, I pulled him close, petting him, whispering soothing words, trying my best to comfort the comfortless, including me. His heart boomed a tribal beat against my chest as we huddled by the cast iron bed for protection, and in the commotion and chaos, an errant elbow sent an empty suitcase tottering to its side, revealing the entryway to Rameses’ hidden sanctuary under the bed. He wriggled free and stole away to salvation, leaving me to fend for myself.

Man’s best friend my ass. “You’re welcome,” I grunted, leaving the room to quickly check out the rest of the house.

Not a creature was stirring. Were they deaf? How could they sleep through this? A bolt of lightning and an instantaneous clap of thunder sent me scrambling back to the bedroom, where I dove under the covers head-first, quaking. Hmm…I wonder if there’s any room underneath with Rams.

So…there I was, lying in bed wide awake at too-dark o’clock in the morning, everyone else fine and dandy in their sugarplum worlds. Me? I tossed. I turned. I hid during the scary moments and counted popcorn bumps on the ceiling when the thunder waned, but could never quite relax until the danger completely passed, and then, at last, sweet sleep found a welcome home.

The next morning greeted me with the aroma of Jamaican Blend wafting from the kitchen and more clickety-clicks trickling from the office.

Mom’s dog, Butterbean, sprawled lazily on the rug enjoying the warmth of a sunbeam, but sprang to life at the whoosh of the opening door, jumping me as I came out.

Splashing sounds came from behind the bathroom door, which told me that Mom was awake. Wow. Life—already. I needed some coffee.

Without a single tock of that peaceful minute to ease into the rush of the day, I flew into action, made us both a cup of joe, juggled them to the living room, plopped in my chair, quickly regrouped, then exhaled a hefty, “Whew!” just as Mom appeared.

“Good morning,” I said, gazing up and blowing my coffee as if I had been there for hours.  She looked tired, but made no mention of the storm.

“Honey,” she called out, fumbling her way through the living room like Mrs. Magoo, “have you seen my glasses?  I’ve looked, but can’t find them anywhere.” Leading her to her chair, I put the cup of coffee in her hand and went to get her glasses, knowing exactly where they were without knowing for sure, if that makes any sense.

Yep. There, in the eyeglass holder on the nightstand by her bed—the logical place for them to be.  I was lucky this time and didn’t have to scour the house retracing her steps.

Back in the living room, I put the glasses on her face, kissed her on the forehead, gazed into her beautiful eyes and was happy to see that she still stared lovingly back into mine. She smiled a weary morning smile.

“There.  All better now.”

The dawning sun streamed through the windows and I knew today was going to be a good day.

We all have storms that shake our houses from time to time.

I’m a writer, taking care of my mom, who has Alzheimer’s. It’s a sad fact of our lives, and only natural I’d jot down a few things along the way to help heal a battered heart…the sunny days and the sleepless nights, musings about life, thoughts on writing, and how I struggle to fit it all in while jumping the many hurdles of caregiving.

Whatever storm you may be weathering…welcome.


ML Swift