Thursday, June 28, 2012

Haunting Memories

Watching the news the past week or so with the horrendous pictures of wildfires took me back to a couple of heart-wrenching times in my life. The people wondering what they should take with them as they evacuate and then watching their homes be engulfed in flames was truly distressing. Been there in other ways.

The first was Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Our home was a few blocks higher than the flood crest so our stuff was safe. But there was this friend of my brother who showed up carrying a dresser drawer half- to three-quarter-filled. That was all he owned. His "pre-fab" home was long gone down the Susquehanna.

A little less than 7 years later, March 1979, my wife and I stood in our house about 15 miles or so from Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant. We were heading out of town. Things did not look good just up the river. There were reasons to believe that a meltdown could still occur- or worse. There was no official evacuation order for where we lived, but we- and many- were going anyway.

The day before in church we had all looked at each other as we left wondering if we would ever be back. Now my wife and I wondered what to take with us, just as I saw those families doing on TV last night. The pain and fear, the uncertainty and grief of the moment were so very real.

The real question at a moment like that is "What is irreplaceable?"

For us it was the box of family pictures going back at least 2 generations.

And a crucifix we had purchased in Rome at the Catacombs when we were there in 1973.

I guess there were some other things, but those were the ones that we knew we didn't want to lose.

Life certainly takes on a completely different perspective at a time like that.

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