The fourth of July 2016 is almost here.
Firework explosions of His-story, memories of love spread across the sky of my life with wild, bright emotional colors. Cousins running around many yards, sparklers held high to light the sky. Ice Cream socials in Central Park followed by band concerts and ball games. Trips to Wooster to see ground displays that moved, twisted and spun, shooting off sparks of red, white and blue. Sharing a few stolen kisses amid the ooo’s and ahhhh’s. Lying on my own private roof just outside my bedroom, watching the best show of all as the mysteries of the sky twirl above me.
But the one that stands out in my mind with vivid clarity is the one that happened the year I graduated from high school. 1969. Does anyone ever forget their senior year of high school? Everything seems momentous. For me, it had been a learning curve year with stunning highs and lows. A summer trip to Europe before the year even started. Zimm’s with a friend who introduced me to a ball player with sun-streaked hair. A boy from our rival school. Twirling fire batons. Singing. Reading. Speech class. A week in the hospital with mono. Prom with the boy who would become my future husband (albeit -12 years in the future). Graduation. An epic 4th of July flood.
There you go. Out of the 18 4th of Julys that I had lived through experienced, it is the 18th one that made the greatest impact on me. That 69 flood raged into my life, tore the weakest moorings out from under my feet and provided an abrupt transition. A transition that had already started, but not fully realized. High school to college. Rural to city. Family to friends. Knowledge to wisdom. Small blessings to large. Blessings that established a rock to latch on to during all the other crazy times when waters have swollen and erupted out of their containment banks.
The first blessing woke me in the middle of the night. Fourth of July explosions were becoming a memory, and I had fallen asleep with my favorite sound. A thunderstorm raging, so maybe it was an especially large crack of thunder or lightening burst. Maybe it was the rain splashing outside my bedroom door (Remember back in the 1st paragraph? I had my own private roof and screen door that would stay open on warm nights – after all – no air conditioning in those days). Whatever it was – it was unusual. Or maybe – just maybe – it was my guardian angel stirring the waters a little louder.
Since the mono experience in April, I slept hard and easily. Waking up at night just didn’t happen, but it did that night. I walked downstairs and found dad standing by the dining room window – and talking. At first I wondered if he was talking to himself, but as he continued, I realized he was talking to God. I remember standing there for a while just being silent and wondering. He knew though and beckoned me to come stand beside him. I remember asking him what he was doing. He said when bad times come, it is best to Somebody wiser than himself for answers. He said there was a flood coming, and he needed to stand watch.
For those of you who don’t know, my family lived just up from the Black Fork tributary of the Mohican River in Loudonville. It floods often into Riverside Park, but I don’t remember a flood like this one. One that threatened our home. Like usual, Dad wasn’t wrong about the flood, but luckily for us, it didn’t completely reach our house. Came close but not enough to cause a problem. We talked for a while, listened to the rain, until he hugged me close, told me not to worry, and sent me back to bed. I talked to God that night like I heard Dad doing and then slept like a baby the rest of the night. Blessing number two was that rainy lullaby.
When I got woke up, the third blessing was already in progress. I didn’t see much of mom and dad for the remainder of the weekend. Each were off doing what strong adults of small communities do in times of disaster. Mom in the village office fielding calls and organizing. Dad off with the Masons and Legion. Sandbags filled. Friends and family to check on. Clothes and supplies gathered. Food prepared. Prayers shared. Extra rooms filled with friends, neighbors and relatives who needed a bed or a place just to sit and clean up. Impromptu gatherings of believers doing what they do when disaster strikes.
4th of July, 1969.
A flood of memories.
A flood of transitions.
A flood of epic proportion.
A flood of blessings.