When Teresa Thaman heard how bad the storm was going to be, she, her daughter and her husband closed themselves in their bathroom and hid under a mattress, just like they’d done every other time a tornado warning had been issued. This time, though, was terribly different. The storm didn’t pass. The windows exploded before the roof tore off, piece by piece, and the wood in the walls cracked apart. Teresa and her family clung to the toilet and tub, unable to comfort one another or even hear each other scream. And as debris pounded the mattress and the suction intensified, she was sure they were going to die.
When the storm passed and the family emerged from a pile of wood and rubble, dirt filled their mouths, eyes and pockets, and the once varied skyline was leveled flat for miles. Family heirlooms, photographs, every piece of furniture and clothing they’d ever owned were all gone – taken in a matter of minutes by the 2011 Joplin tornado. Continue reading →
Ask any number of people to summarize their childhood, and you’ll hear a variety of descriptions. Our childhoods are laced with humor and heartbreak, tragedy and joy, failure and triumph – all in varying degrees. Some of our parents gave their all, though limited emotionally, financially or physically. Other parents had much to give but thought only of themselves and neglected, abandoned or abused us instead. Some of us possessed an innate tenacity and self-assurance while others harbored self-doubt and timidity. Some of us thrived, some crumbled, and some are still trying to come to terms with who we are and how we feel about the men and women who raised or didn’t raise us. Whatever our backgrounds and tendencies, though, I think our journeys contained certain commonalities; what we wanted wasn’t always what we needed, and sometimes what we needed wasn’t at all what we received. Continue reading →