Hope for what it could be like

20 years ago, in October of 1989, we moved into the home which we live in now. In August of the following year, a tornado ripped through our town killing 27 people. But for my wife's anal attitude about seat belts, the count could easily have been 30.

Annie had two little playmates of my boys in the car with her - it was time for them to be home and she was driving them home through the storm. Nobody knew what was coming - there was no early warning system in our town, then - no way to warn or tell anyone that life threatening conditions existed. She drove right into the teeth of the tornado.

The tornado picked up her car and rolled it, threw it into a parking lot and left it sitting there, upright but wrinkled and windowless. They were, naturally, frightened. They were, also, cut, beat up, bruised and bleeding. But they were alive. They had stayed in the car because of Annie's insistence that the kids wear their seat belts. And, of course, she was wearing hers. A woman driving the highway just outside town wasn't so lucky. She didn't wear her belt and the tornado sucked her out of her car. They found her body in the middle of a farmer's field, naked.

But Annie and the boys were alive.

They were out of the car, wandering down the road, in a landscape that suddenly was totally unreal and foreign. The high school which had been on their right as they drove toward town was gone. The trees which made the area look so inviting and friendly were stripped bare or uprooted. They were in an area where Annie didn't know any people, all the houses were strange to her. She was feeling lost, devastated, and she was crying.

Suddenly, there stood in front of her an older woman and her tall, kindly looking husband. The Wheelers. They took her and the two little boys into their home, which was on the undamaged side of the street. They helped calm them, helped Annie pick the glass out of her scalp, gave them warm drinks and dry clothing. And Annie calmed down to the point she got her wits about her and she eventually got the French boys to their home and then got herself home to our house.

Over the years, all of that has become a memory - and it has drifted away to one that seldom gets visited. But two weeks ago we were at our favorite restaurant, newly re-opened, sitting in the vestibule waiting for seating. Suddenly, there in front of Annie, stood that older woman from 20 years ago. Annie stood, they embraced, and they both stood there crying in each other's arms. The whole thing came flooding back for them and they both felt the love and kindness that flowed from the Wheelers over three lost and hurt strangers, as if it was yesterday.

We have seen, we have been the recipients of, the love and kindness of strangers. First hand. It is in that love and kindness we find hope for the future. We know what's out there. We know what people are capable of. In this day and time, when the pressures of culture and circumstance distract us from the simple things that mean so much when one can slow down and see them, the Wheelers and their kindness stand as a reminder, to us, of what it could be like, what it should be like, and God willing, what someday it will be like.


p.s. Go to Blog Nosh Magazine and find more Hope For The Holidays stories.


Audubon Ron said...

Good story. Ad, God willing? You confuse me.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

I sat here with my hand to my neck, 'clutching my pearls', while reading that.

You tell a tale so well. How terrifying. Hug that woman for me.

Myst_72 said...



Sage Ravenwood said...

Awe inspiring story dear friend. It does give us hope and give us an insight to the possibility of human kindness. (Hugs)Indigo

secret agent {mishi} said...

I've seen the kindness, it exists, and I'm so glad it does.

Thank you for sharing what fills you with hope, my friend!

Maggie's Mind said...

I remember that day like yesterday for my own reasons. I also believe that the good guys outweigh the bad guys, no matter which stories sell better in the media. I love that Annie got to meet the woman who helped her out.

moneythoughts said...

Good Story Lou. Well written. Should be reprinted in a major newspaper some day. We all can use more stories about good people.

Hockeymandad said...

Wow, what an amazing story. I love to hear stories that remind me humanity still exists and that people are generally good. You don't see or hear too much of that on a daily basis but perhaps we should.

Joyce-Anne said...

What an inspiring and heart-warming story. I can't begin to imagine how scary that experience that was for Annie. My oldest used to quote the cartoon character, Dora the explorer, "Seatbelts, so we can be safe". Very true.

Emily/Randomability said...

Got chills reading and not from working in my chilly basement.

Cathy said...

what an amazing story--to live through a tornado! how wonderful that you met with woman again!

Grandmother Mary said...

This story made my heart happy. Thanks, Lou.

melissa said...

tornados are horrifying. especially when you are in one. my husband, son and i got caught in one, two summers ago. i will never forget it.

what an incredible and touching story. thank you!!

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

Just wow.

Unknown said...

I'm so glad nothing bad happened to them and they found good strangers that helped them!

Jennifer said...

I got chills AND tears in my eyes reading this. Such a touching story!

Unknown said...

I'm speechless. Your sitemeter will tell you that it's taken me ALL DAY to read this story and I'm just speechless.

Unknown said...

I bet that was quite a ride! And terrifying! So glad they were ok!

Unknown said...

Audubon Ron: Figure of speech.

Kelley: I did. And I do. All. The. Time.

Myst_72: Yeah, Gina. I know.

Indigo: And big HUGS right back atcha, Indigo.

Secret Agent: Thank you for asking me to do this, Mishi.

Maggie's Mind: Yeah. It was a special moment for both of them.

Moneythoughts: But it won't sell paers, Fred. More's the pity.

Hockeymandad: I wish we could.

Joyce-Anne: Yes, true - always wear seat belts.

Emily: Good chills, I hope.

Cathy: Like I said - it was a special moment for both of them.

Grandmother: You're so welcome, Mary.

Melissa: I am SO GLAD you guys got through it okay.

Ashlie: Ain't it?

NicoleB: Yes - it was fortunate for them.

Jennifer: Yeah. I know. And it gives me hope.

Hyphen Mama: You have got to be one of the most empathetic people I know - I just KNOW you REALLY felt this.

lisaschaos: So, Lisa, am I.

PattiKen said...

Wow! What a story!

Nan Sheppard said...

Wow! Wow! How terrifying!

CaraBee said...

What an amazing story!

My mom has a similar story. Of the kindness of a stranger in a tragic circumstance. It restores your faith in people. Truly.

Unknown said...

Yes, there are still people out there that care. Unfortunately, it does take something like a tornado to see the good in the world.

Expat No. 3699 said...

I remember that tornado and the devastation it wreaked. Poor Annie, that had to be so terrifying. Give her a big hug from me.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful blessing to read that today. Really wonderful! It made me thankful!

Survivormama said...

Hi there, found you through your interview with Dee @Say anything..love this post, so glad it all turned out good! Sounds scary though!