Tornado Watch

What a weekend we had. It started out all fun and games with a photo shoot, dinner with friends, a great day at the CA Strawberry festival… and ended in a way I never expected.

Of course, you have seen the news. Joplin, Missouri was hit by the deadliest tornado in US History. At least since they started tracking tornadoes 60 years ago. Normally I would see this, watch the news for a moment, say a quick prayer for the people in trouble, make a little donation, and move on with my day. But I have been obsessed with this particular tornado. I haven’t turned off CNN since I heard about it on Sunday night. The only thing that could pull me away from the Real Housewives was my own version of Tornado Watch 2011.
You see, a lot of my family live in Southern Missouri. They live about 20 minutes from Joplin but they go there several times a week, as that is the town closest to them with all the stores and restaurants. When my husband and I went to visit, we stayed in Joplin to be close to everything. And now the town is gone. It is demolished.
Thank the good Lord that my family is all safe and accounted for. But with more storms headed their way tonight, it leaves an eerie feeling inside.
The person most affected directly by the tornado was probably my dad. He was in Joplin at the time preparing for a church meeting. When they heard the tornado overhead, he and 7 other people hid in a bathroom. The church literally got torn to shreds around them. They saw the roof get ripped off and it started raining on them. His van was crushed by the falling building. He was hit in the head with some bricks. And I find it a bit of a miracle that all 8 people walked away with only minor injuries. {Insert huge sigh of relief here.} His story made ABC4 News out of Salt Lake. These are a couple pics from his cell phone:

My brother also lives in the area, quite a bit closer to the damaged parts of town. After ducking the storm in a grocery store, he drove around looking for people and trying to help. He even came upon a fallen tree in the middle of the road, pulled a SAW out of his car and started to chop it up. Other people saw this, joined in and they had the tree cleared in no time. I couldn’t get over the fact that he even had a saw with him in his car. He’s kind of a bad ass that way. I love that about him.
Now comes the really interesting (and even a little cheesy) part for me. My thoughts have been very consuming during all of this. To put it plainly, my dad and I don’t have the best relationship. In fact, I don’t think we’ve even spoken, besides text messages, in about 2 years. I know its totally cliché to wait for a tragedy like this to start thinking about how short life is and how much time is wasted, but that’s what I’ve been doing.
The last couple of years I’ve put a lot of thought into our relationship and for a long time, I was fine with leaving it as it was. I feel like I tried really hard for a lot of years to make him care and I had all but given up. I was sick of being the one who made the effort all the time. I even had a heart to heart with him and told him I wanted our relationship to get better, and it actually got worse. So I had accepted that, and I was willing to be as stubborn as he was. If he wasn’t going to call, then neither was I. And that was that. Besides, now I had my own family and responsibilities to worry about.
But thinking that he could have died the other day really changed my perspective. If he had gone and I was left with the guilt of giving up on him, I don’t think I could have lived with myself. So regardless of his attitude about our relationship and how few times a year he contacts me, and how many broken promises there are – I’m going to make an effort. It’s not easy for me, and even now, my resistant side is coming out saying, “Well HE needs to do something”. And to be honest, there is only so much I’m willing to do at this point and I am still angry with him. But I have to let some of that go, because I can’t control what he does. I can only control myself and my reaction to him.
I also want to be a better sister, daughter, cousin, friend, etc. My family lives very far away and we always use that and how busy our lives are as an excuse to why we may not keep in very good contact. But if something happened today or tomorrow or 10 years from now, I want to know that I made the best effort possible and that all these people know I love them.
So that’s my revelation during all of this. I just hope I’m not the only one who saw the light.
As a side note, please take the time to make a donation to help the victims in Joplin. The are estimating the damages in that small town to be about $3 billion (so far). Every little bit helps. See ways to help here:

Thanks for listening.

  1. I have been in your shoes. My dad couldn’t be bothered but always blamed me for not getting in touch with him. I tried on and off for many years but all it did was break my heart. I finally gave up. I saw him at my uncles funeral and he talked to me but couldn’t be bothered to stay and talk some more with the family. Then when my sister died he didn’t come to the memorial service because he couldn’t handle it. That was the final straw. I always wondered how I would feel when he died if I would be full of regret and guilt. Well the answer is no! He passed away a few years ago. I was sad but I really wanted the answer was did he really ever regret throwing away a family. I would have like to have know if he really ever had any thoughts of me, my life and his grand daughter. No regrets just some sadness. I turned my love to the family that wanted me in their lives.

  2. Life has a way of teaching us and molding us, sending us messages that will change the direction of our thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone, but we can still love them and embrace them regardless of the outcome. And that is hard to do! Heaven knows you have forgiven me for many of my shortcomings and through your love, passion and compassion my life has been touched and changed for the better. I have learned a lot from you and you continue to surprise me. I don’t think giving up is in your make-up! That’s the Finn in you! 🙂

  3. Jaana,

    We all try our best to love and care for people around us, but everyone responds to love in very different ways. As for me, I am going through the very same feelings with my family, not with my very own dad per say, but people in my family respond to love and care in very different ways. Jaana, you are doing the best that you can and that’s all that matters. The only person that will know that is you and your loved ones such as your son and your hubby. We all love you and care for you deeply. We are sending our love and care to you and your family. With much love and care. Gina

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