First Posted: 6/4/2013
There have been so many natural disasters lately, I’m beginning to wonder if we’re looking down the barrel at Armageddon.
After the casualties of the most recent calamity, I began to question what I would do should a tornado come whirling out of nowhere, catching us all off guard, and rudely pulling up my home by its roof. No doubt I’d probably be on the toilet when it happens.
I wondered: if I had only a five-minute warning and my family and photos were safely evacuated, what would I then save from my home? What if, like Dorothy, I was uprooted and unceremoniously jettisoned skyward?
Dorothy found herself in Oz, sporting a sweet pair of glitzy red pumps, so she really didn’t need anything else…but what would she have saved, if she could? She was a simple farm girl, so she would’ve probably just grabbed a cow by the utter, the butter churner and Toto.
Before a catastrophe struck, the first thing I would make sure I had on my person is my mother’s wedding band.
When she was in her final phase of liver cancer, I was with my mother pretty much all day, every day, because my father was also in the hospital at the time. Cancer had spread to her brain at that point and it was rare that she and I could have a cognizant conversation about anything other than medication and the fact I couldn’t wheel her through a doorway without slamming her elbows into the wall. (She hated that).
At this point, she was 90 pounds and her wedding band kept falling off.
Finally, she handed it to me and said, “Just keep it.”
I didn’t then, because it felt wrong to keep an item she wouldn’t remember she gave me an hour later.
After she passed away, my father agreed I should have the wedding band. I have not removed it since.
It was with me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, during surgeries and when I took my first born to college shortly thereafter. I held tight to it as my husband lost his job, lost his cousin to cancer and started his own business.
It’s my talisman and I won’t ever let it go. Sometimes I pray to it, sometimes I talk to it, but mostly I just completely cherish it.
Ring in hand, the next order of business would be to grab a bottle of vanilla vodka. Is that wrong? I just think I would need it more than, say, my china, after a tornado hit.
I’m just being real, man.
I asked my 15 year-old what he would quickly seize if a tornado was fast approaching. His only response was “food.” I stated, sarcastically, that his choice was heart-tugging and sentimental and he replied, “A kid’s gotta eat, Maria. It’s important.” Can’t really argue with Patrick-logic.
My 18 year-old son stated, “Wellll…there’s really nothing I would save. I mean, isn’t everything, like, replaceable?”
I barked at him that some things just are not. “Listen,” he reasoned, “as long as I get an insurance check that gives me the money to buy new stuff, I really wouldn’t care…”
Good God. This boy can be bought for about a buck fifty.
I tested my husband. I asked him the same query, but didn’t pose the caveat of all people being safe and sound. Do you know what his answer was? NOTHING! He said he would save NOTHING! Including, one could ascertain, me. Well, how about his stupid golf clubs?
My son piped up, “Mom…he always keeps those in the trunk of the car just in case he’s passing a golf course.” I fumed. That’s where they may find his body someday, too.
My daughter, when asked, first demanded to be assured the dogs would be safe. I reminded her this was simply a hypothetical question. She wasn’t having it. “If those dogs don’t make it out of the house before that tornado hits, heads are going to roll!” I promised the dogs would be safe. “Well, in that case, I would save the necklace Grampa gave me for high school graduation.”
“Gramma’s opal necklace! I have it on right now. It brings me good luck.” I had forgotten. She graduated shortly after my mother died and my father gave her this necklace. My mother’s circuitous precious metals were everywhere, wrapping us both in memories and love.
Dorothy had her shoes, the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow, plus, my ancestors, the Munchkins of the Lollipop Guild. She also had the Wizard and all the inhabitants of Oz. Who cares? All she wanted was Auntie Em and the farm.
Well, the fact is that if everyone we love has made it out alive, there’s really nothing else we need. But… if I lost my mother’s ring, it would be like losing a limb. It’s the only thing that has a tenuous hold from me to her, in this world or not.
I can feel her beating heart when I wear it, I can see her right in front of me. And her name? Dorothy.
We may not be in Kansas anymore, but we are wherever our hearts reside: home.