Tornado!I remember my mother’s voice that evening: It warbled.

And though I was only six years old, I knew the warble came from utter terror. We were running as fast as a heavily pregnant woman with three children ages 2-6 could run. She was watching the sky more than the path to the gate, carrying my sister, holding my brother’s hand, and sort of warbling to me, “Oh, run, hurry, RUN!”

I dug my toes into my flip-flops and ran.

I knew it was a tornado up there, whatever a tornado was. I looked up, too, and stumbled.

Mom scolded me sharply. “Don’t look up! Don’t look up! Don’t look up!” She seldom scolded sharply. It hurt my feelings but I knew it was no time for hurt feelings. Her words were like a mantra, a warbled charm against bad omens . . . don’t look up, don’t look up . . .

But, when I had looked up I was puzzled. It looked just like clouds.

Then I had seen a door. And when, disobeying, I looked up again, I saw a tricycle.

We were headed to our neighbor’s house. My mom screamed for them to let us in. We cowered under their huge oaken table, in the dark, with our mother’s arms encircling us. I heard my mom praying, so I prayed too. We cried and pleaded with God to protect us. I did not know what to be scared about, but my mom’s fear was plenty for us both.

The neighbor calmly stood on his front porch and watched the sky. His wife wrung her hands and paced through the house. I remember her shoes and feeling sort of dumb lying on the floor under her table while she walked by. I thought of a Little Rascals episode in which the children hid under furniture.

Then it was over. We went home. My mom talked for days about the foolishness of standing on the front porch to watch a tornado go by, summoning new terror at each telling.

It was over, yes, for us, but for the victims it still goes on. The forty-four dead would be burried. The over 500 injured would tell their stories.

And the RUIN still speaks.

More tomorrow.

To read a beautiful memorial written for one of the victims, read here.

Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

16 thoughts on “RUN! OH, RUN!

  1. I remember being at a babysitters house when I was about the same age. She always made us play outside during the hot days of summer. But one day there were dark clouds, rain and wind. She brought us inside and we all huddled together and prayed. I remember her praying. Afterwards she told us the tornado had jumped OVER her house. Thank God for Mrs. Hillman and her desire to pray for God’s protection.

    My father in law lives in Clarksville, Ark and said that his town is torn up pretty bad from tornado’s going through there night before last. One tore up the trailer park right across the street. His apartment is fine and so is he. Everyone in the trailer park left for shelter and as far as I know they are okay too.

    Can’t wait to read the next post. It is raining here and I hear thunder.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Karen! I hope I didn’t spook you too much, with your spring weather. 🙂 Actually, they say if it is doing other weather, like rain and thunder, then it probably will not be a tornado–that it is when the other weather stops, suddenly, we need to look out. I don’t know. I’m always tucked away, somewhere, not out making observations! 🙂 I am so glad all your loved ones are doing well. Anyone who has ever been in such a situation gets a different perspective, for sure. I am thankful, too, for a praying babysitter for you. Babysitters and daycare workers have such an awesome responsibilty. I heard of one who made the children practice tornado drills every week. So when she announced a tornado drill one day, and it was the real thing, they never guessed and were perfectly safe because they all knew what to do. Will mention that in the near future.

  2. There is a monument for the Ruskin Heights tornado and a book published on it.
    I’ve lived through several tornado storms and thank God for his protection every time.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out, Rush’d Lady! The word “RUIN” in bold lettering in the last line of my post is a link to the official site, and gives access to the book. I should have made that clear. Thanks!
      I, too, am glad God protected you through so many storms!

    1. Hi, Kate! Great to hear from you! I am sure my mom would agree it was intense, but children see differently. My mind was on these tiny details and oblivious to the storm overhead, for the most part. God is good to make children that way. 😉

  3. I guess the only good thing about this event is to be able to tell this tale in such an innocent way. Children have no fear in them so they are the best observers!! What a great writing Kath!!! Really amazing!!

    1. Wow, Giuls, thank YOU for such kind words, here! You are right. If you followed the link, you could read tale after tale of survivors whose lives could only be called a miracle. The saddest story I read was of a young couple who took cover with their newborn baby, only to have it sucked from their arms, never to be seen again. The most amazing tornado stories are when people actually take a ride in the clouds and are redeposited only somewhat harmed from the experience, and live to tell their stories. Those are amazing and terrifying to read. I was afraid, although I did not know of what, nor why. Being an adult, I realize how near we were to death that day, yet — here I am, still chugging along. 😀

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