34: Mooning Misfortune

34: Mooning Misfortune

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

Mooning Misfortune

Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.

~Author Unknown

1:12 AM November 28th, 1988.

My mother burst into my bedroom.

“Get up!” she shrieked.

Before I had time to respond, she grabbed my arm, dragging me down the hall. It was pitch black and so loud I could hardly hear her screaming. “What’s going on Mom?” I yelled, scared. Her answer was inaudible.

We passed my sister’s room. I saw the night sky where her ceiling was, and her bed . . . now gone. I looked above us in the hall only to see the night sky. I was pushed down the stairs and shoved under them, where my sister and father were waiting. I will never forget the horrified look on my sister’s face.

We huddled together for what seemed like an eternity, glass breaking, doors flying off their hinges. Our family’s china had turned into high-speed shrapnel; the entire house was shaking as it moved off its foundation. I felt rain on my face. My father sat stoically, physically holding the staircase up above our heads.

“What’s happening? What’s going on?” I asked, wind whipping through my hair. I had never been this scared in my life.

“It’s a tornado,” my mother answered. Another French door flew in our direction but we were shielded by the staircase my father held to protect us.

“It’s going to be okay,” my dad said.

Then we prayed.

The funnel cloud, an F4, took only about five minutes to pass. It touched down twice to destroy our home and two others, leaving the rest of the neighborhood homes unscathed. The tornado took four lives in its course of devastation and destruction. Our entire roof and second floor walls were ripped off, except for a small portion over my room, which had been shielded by a huge oak tree that had fallen upon it. That tree saved me from being sucked out by the storm when it hit the first time as my mother was still running down the hall to get me.

We lost almost everything. The house was totaled. The attic and all of its contents were gone. Our house, our new house, was only a shell. All of our possessions were broken or damaged by the 210+ mph winds and rain. It was three and a half weeks before Christmas. I was seven, my sister eleven.

We stayed with neighbors for a few nights, but our house couldn’t be locked. We needed to secure the few possessions we had left, so my father bundled up the best he could to fight the cold North Carolina winter and slept alone on the frigid floor of our garage with only a shotgun and our Siberian Husky.

There he slept for four nights, in a lonely skeleton of a house, to protect us. To protect what was left of our home, to protect our family. He had no heat, no electricity and no running water. He had a little cooler with water and food that we filled up every day before dark. One night, he heard scratching at the garage door. When my dad went outside he found our neighbor’s cat that had been missing since the storm and hadn’t eaten in a few days. After my father shared his dinner of chicken nuggets with our dog and the hungry cat, he got out his milk ration for his morning cereal and fed it to the cat.

My father doesn’t really like cats because he is very allergic, but he still put that cat before himself. And when he realized the kitty was freezing in the forty-degree garage, he put the cat in the sleeping bag with him, even though he knew he would break out in hives and itch all night.

My parents were both so strong. They did everything to make Christmas special for us. I remember my sister cried because the Christmas present she bought me had been blown out of her room. I was just glad that she too had not been sucked away by the tornado.

One cold day my parents were standing in the kitchen of our destroyed home, which had now been looted (robbers took all the kitchen appliances). Snow had fallen on everything that was left. My mother starting sobbing, completely overcome with the loss of our home, of our memories that had been made there.

“I’m so sorry,” my father said. “I always promised I would give you everything. I would give the sun to make you happy, the stars for you to dream and THE MOON for you to gaze upon.”

At this my mother, who thought it was the most romantic thing my father had ever said, looked up to see my dad’s pants around his knees and his bare white butt glistening against the snow!

It was at that moment my mother said she knew everything was going to be okay and that we were going to get through it as a family.

So thanks, Dad. Thanks for always showing me the light in the darkness. Your humor has gotten me through many things in life. Thank you for teaching me to laugh even when things get rough. And for being the protector through every storm.

~Ashlan Gorse

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