As the radio blares with warnings of bad weather, the skies go dark and then an alarming gray. And that’s when the tornado siren’s cries fill the town.
You then grab a few things before retreating to the basement just in case both of their warnings turn out to be accurate.
In that moment, you get a glimpse of what’s most important to you. It’s not a striking a-ha moment, so most probably miss it. But the things you take to the safety of the basement can be telling.
For me, as last weekend’s storms descended on Cass County, I didn’t grab a few things. I grabbed one.
His name is Sparky. He is a sock monkey.
Whenever there is a threat of bad weather and I find myself throwing some just-in-case emergency items in a bag, Sparky is always the first thing. If I only had time to get a bag of survival essentials or Sparky — but not both — it would always be the latter.
You might be shaking your head right about now, thinking I’m rather impractical. Eh, you’re probably right.
That sock monkey is a link to my past that I could never replace. I’ve often thought I must have lived through a tragedy as a child that my family has never told me about because I remember so little about my childhood. There are huge gaps in my memories, as if someone has taped over them.
I listen with envy when my sister talks about all manner of childhood memories in vivid details. I have only a few memories I can recall, and every one of them involves Sparky.
One he holds isn’t a fond memory. In fact, it’s probably a day most kids would like to forget. It’s not as if it’s a tragic memory, it’s just not a happy one. But I hold onto it because I have a clear image of my young self in it. When I look at Sparky, it’s almost as if I’m hovering over the living room of the house I grew up in and I can see me sitting on the floor with him.