I continue to read news reports about the horrible tornado that blew through Alabama in April. Yesterday I read an article and then had to read it out loud to Mother. The article was about how months after the storm the official death toll from the tornado had increased by three. I finished reading the article and looked up at Mother and we both shook our heads in sadness. Three more dead. And we knew all three.
These souls were residents of a nursing home. The nursing home that my Great-Grandmother lived in and the nursing home that my Grandfather died in.
This is what did me in:
“Immediately following the storm, the city recognized that there would be a population of our citizens that may sustain health-related issues or suffer from the trauma of coping with the impact of this event,” the release from the mayor’s office states. “We know that especially within our elderly population, as well as the children of our community, the effects of this disaster could be more difficult for them to overcome.”
I read that over and over and I couldn’t help but imagine how Millie would have reacted. Even if we were still in Florida, even in the tightest grips of Alzheimer’s, I could imagine Millie keening over the ruins of her hometown.
I knew so well the nursing home that these people lived in. I remember being a young girl and going every day with Millie to visit her Mother. My Great-Grandmother sat in a day room next to a piano and in a room with a large aquarium. She kept hankies in the cuff of her sweater and after kissing me hello and patting my head she would extend her wrist to me and I was allowed to wind her watch.
Thinking about that now I can’t help but be struck of the parallels of my relationship with my Great-Grandmother and W’s relationship with his. As a young girl I made sure that my Great-Grandmother’s watch was always ticking. As a baby it felt like W’s very existence added precious time and lucidity to our last months with Millie.
I can not imagine being a resident of a nursing home and hearing the sirens go off. I can not imagine being confined to a bed as a tornado blew and ripped through. Such fragile people, delicate, most nearly life-long residents of this Alabama town. To endure such horror of a storm so brutal and then to have to be relocated and drive through the town and see it in all of its post storm ruins…devastating.
That these deaths are being attributed to the tornado days, weeks and a month after the actual storm is incredibly powerful. It honors the love these people had for their town and it also acknowledges the savageness of the tornado.
My heart goes out to all the towns and families still trying to recover. My thoughts are with the families that just added a loved one’s name to the list of storm fatalities.