Unbatten the Hatches

My sister has an amazing memory. I’m sure, at our age now, she occasionally mixes up her kids’ names or forgets why she walked to the basement; but she remembers things from long past that i never could. She remembers the name of every teacher she ever had, every babysitter, every celebration. Me? Not so much. There are a lot of memories that my brain has either tossed out like garbage or buried deep in some trunk, including most of the memories before i turned 8 years old, when my parents were still married, and life was “normal”.  For me, those years aren’t crisp photos in some leather covered album. They’re more like a stack of Rorschach tests that have been used to soak up spilt milk. But there are a couple that remain clear. And days like today always remind me of one in particular.

When i was 6 or so, we lived in an apartment that was on the bottom floor of 3 stories. We had a patio that was sheltered by the balconies of the apartments above us. It wasn’t big, but it was big enough for our purposes. Fold up lawn chairs, a bike, a Big Wheel, the basics of the era.  In the winter, it was a place to stash those plastic roll-up sleds and to shed the snow coated jeans and parkas (So as not to drag the wet inside the house). In the summer, the cement was spotted with popsicle stains and fluffernutter sticky spots. But my favorite thing about the patio was the rain.

I’ve never asked him why he did it, if it was planned, or if it was for his own amusement or mine. And truthfully, i couldn’t tell you if it happened only one time or 100. But the memory is as vivid as if it happened this morning. (Or more vivid, really, since, as usual,  i can barely remember this morning.)

So as i sit here on my porch listening to the thunder roll and  the rain patter, i can’t help but be brought back to that patio.

Big bad thunderstorms can be scary when you’re a kid. But i don’t remember being afraid of them. What i remember is sitting on the patio with my dad. A big bowl of popcorn (Made the RIGHT way, with lots of butter in the big stock pot on the stove). Sitting next to him, watching the storm like it was a much anticipated movie. We’d count the seconds after each electric streak across the sky, we’d jump and squeal at each resounding boom, and then we’d figure how many miles away it was. I’d sit with my dad and watch the storm with safety and comfort and a belly full of good popcorn. And i wasn’t afraid. Instead of being an explosion of God’s wrath and all those other things we kids ascribe to it, it became a beautiful and wondrous bit of nature that i learned to love and appreciate.

And when my own weedlings were young, i did the same thing with them. Our own covered porch, a bowl of popcorn, the watching and waiting and counting.  And they were never scared either

I was afraid of a lot as a weedling. Hell, i’m afraid of a lot as an adult. But i’ve never been afraid of storms. In fact, i relish them. Maybe as i grow older, i will learn to appreciate storms of other varieties,the non-weather varieties, as much as i do Mother Nature’s. Maybe, in the midst of it all, i can imagine my dad, relaxed in one of those woven-strap lawn chairs, bowl of popcorn in this lap, telling me it’s ok and reminding me to count so i’ll know when the storm starts to go away. As all storms eventually do. Yes, maybe that would be something good to add to my self-improvement “to do” list.

Raindrops, wind, thunder… The sounds of a good full-blown storm…. Therapists use it to help their patients relax, unwind, clear anxiety. It does all those things for me, too. But it also makes me smile. And think of my Dad,

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