Do you remember that big storm of “43? I had just come back from town doing the shopping. I had stopped in Woolworth’s and picked up some new sheet music, I think it was “Mairzy Doats” and “You’ll Never Know Just How much I love you.” ‘Mairzy Doats’ was fun to sing, but it had a jumpy arrangement, not worth playing. But you know, I could really get some emotion with the notes of “You’ll Never Know.”
All of a sudden, I heard a low rumble of thunder. “Oh, no, I better get the clothes off the line.” I closed the piano lid, and rushed out to get them. Hazel from next door came bustling over. I remember hoping she wouldn’t talk too long. Hazel always did.
“Hey, Darlene,” she said. “KTHS says they had hail over in Piggot.” “Do you remember when we came back from the diner in that hailstorm? I still remember it because that’s the night I met Jack. He told me I was a terrible pinball player. I could never shake the machine the way the guys did. I always thought that was against the rules anyway.”
I laughed and nodded, but I kept taking down the clothes until my arms were loaded. And I scurried into the house, just as the first raindrops started up, which made Helen head for home.
I looked out at the cotton. Dad hadn’t taken the last batch to the gin. “I sure hope it don’t hail,” I worried.
It was only 3:30 but the sky was getting really dark. I couldn’t decide whether to keep peeking out the window or head for the basement. I wanted to call Dad to see if he might close the hardware store early, but I sort of remembered that you couldn’t use the phone in a thunderstorm. Lightning might strike, you know.
I probably stayed upstairs longer than I should have. I kept wanting to hear what the radio had to say about the storm. And I couldn’t find the cat. Fuzzy sometimes slept in the closet. So I checked there. And just then, I heard some breaking glass and it seemed like the rain came right in the room with me. I dived into the closet and slid the door shut. It’s hard to describe the sounds I heard. A railroad train? An airplane engine? All I know was there was a roaring and it seemed like dust was blowing right under the door into the closet.
It seemed like I stayed there for an hour, but when I dared come out of the closet, it was 3:55 and the radio was still playing in the other room. But that big oak, the one where you had your tree fort, had fallen and a huge branch was stuck right into the kitchen. Thank goodness, it didn’t fall on the piano. I don’t know what I would do without the piano.
A Nurses-Aid comes into the room and interrupts. “Mz Darlene, It’s time for dinner, ma’am.”
Mom looks startled but grins her usual grin, and says, “I’ll be right there.”
“Say, have you met my son, Paul?”
I grin my usual grin and get up to wheel Mom into the dining area.
Then I go back to work and it seems like I can’t stop humming Mairzy Doats. Terrible song. But Mom tells me that same story every time I come to visit, and I feel happy that she gets good care from the helpers there.