Watching the cities of Fargo-Moorhead get ready for a possible flood, I'm reminded of the nicest thing my sister and I ever did for our mom.
I think I was in high school and my sister had already married and moved out.Our mom was taking a vacation to see our older sister in California one cold and wet spring. She never took vacations and we were determined that no matter what, she wouldn't be bothered by us while she was gone.
No worries Mom! Just have a great time! Bye!
Of course, then we had the ice storm.
And the power went out.
And the sump pump quit.
And the basement flooded.
One of my girlfriends from high school came over to spend the night when the storm hit and I remember when I woke up in the middle of the night, my spidey sense was tingling. Since I was a kid, I didn't understand that ice storms could really be bad. Also, I only knew that a sump pump was some sort of thing in a hole in your basement that made noises every now and then. (As you can tell, my knowledge hasn't greatly improved over the years.) When I woke up, I just knew that SOMETHING was wrong.
Candles? You think I knew where the candles were? Of course not! Flashlight? I don't think so! It was pitch dark and I started feeling my way around the house. Yes, the power was out but that didn't mean anything to me particularly.
I wandered cautiously down our basement stairs and when I got to the last stair, I stepped into ice cold water. Of course, I took another step down and the water climbed to my knees. There is nothing more surreal than standing in total blackness, learning that there is a lot of icy water exactly where it shouldn't be.
It became evident that I desperately needed light so I stumbled upstairs and managed to find a flashlight.
Wanna get away?
Yeah. As the light played across the surface of the water in our basement and I watched everything floating around, I realized how much it sucked to be an adult. It was WAAAY bigger than I could handle.
As soon as it was light, my sister and her husband came over and we started the fire brigade style emptying of the basement. Bucket by cold miserable bucket.
"We are not telling mom while she is in California," my sister told me. "There's nothing she can do and it will only ruin her vacation."
I agreed with her but when the phone lines were restored and she managed to get through to us, it was a little harder to pull it off. She had seen our area featured on the national news. Were we absolutely sure that everything was OK?
"Yeah mom," I knew my voice was way to chipper. "Everything's great!" I looked down at my hands which were prunes and my palms that were blistered. "Nothing to worry about here!"
It wasn't until we were bringing her home from the airport that we started THE conversation.
"Ummmm, mom? You know when we told you everything was fine? Well...it wasn't."