The Storm


I was awakened yesterday before dawn to the sound of straight line winds, as the front which dropped inches of rain moved quickly off to the east.

By 7:30, as is my custom, I was out the door and in my truck. Instead of heading for the store, I drove to Liberty, where there’d been news reports of storm damage. Somehow, I’d missed the text at 7:30 from my neighbor in Liberty, letting me know there were no trees down on my property. No matter, I’d not been in over a month, and also wanted to check on my brother.

As I approached Liberty on the interstate, trees were down as though from wind coming from the west. I drove to my old house, which I’d bought over 30 years before, lived in before meeting the Wife, rented for a time, and now used for storage and a place to go, when I needed get away.

Everything inspected, I drove north through town, to discover the main damage at the giant brick complex of buildings which used to be Liberty Furniture, and currently employs my brother.

I continued on to his neighborhood, and he came out as I drove up. The power was out in that part of town, his wife had gone to work, so we sat down and started catching up.

Eventually, we came to the subject of our mother, who lives alone in the family beach home. Tod has two kids and three grands, whereas I have none, so for the last few years, I’ve left dealing with mom to him, rather than make matters worse.

Dad died in ’87, and except for a 5 year marriage to a dentist from Dayton, she’d sat there all these years watching Fox News and playing canasta. She’d finally run through their retirement savings and was forced to take a loan on the house.

For some reason, my name was put on the home equity loan, and subsequently mail in my name began showing up in her box.

“Your brother is driving down here and putting mail in my box.”

When she divorced the dentist and came back to Liberty, she made us pull up all the beautiful boxwoods around the house, lest he be lying in wait for her.

She also arranged to have all the live oaks and pines removed from the beach property, for the same reason.

The last time I saw Don, he said, “I love your mother, but she’s bonkers.”

Amen.

For decades now, she’s been reliving memories to the point many of them have been revised, and she no longer has a firm grasp of reality. Fox News doesn’t help.

Her mother was the same way. I attribute it to inactivity, which I run from, daily.

As usual, the last time Tod was there, she made him read the will.

She’d taken the Latino landscaper, who was getting $10K per year, off the will.

I asked if Tod if she would remove me from the will. We laughed.

“Isn’t this the most beautiful home and isn’t that the most beautiful yard?”

Tod finally lost it. “Mom, it doesn’t mean a damn thing.”

“But surely, you’ll want this place when I’m gone.”

“Mom, even if we wanted it, which we don’t, we can’t afford it.”

He failed to mention it was 150 yards inland from the water way and inhabited by mosquitos, fire ants and rednecks.

“We’ll have to sell it to pay the debts.”

I spent many years of my life running up and down that road.

Now that the Wife and I are too busy running the business, we don’t have time for it, and don’t miss it.

We grew up in a town during a time when everybody flocked to the coast, only to bump into each other. It still goes on, but now I observe it as madness.

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