I didn’t realize how set in my ways I’d become until last Friday morning when I got caught in a thunder and lightning storm with my daughter and granddaughter. I know I like things done correctly and I like things to be nice, but who doesn’t? (Well, my husband says these traits make me OCD, but that’s from someone who doesn’t unpack his suitcase for three weeks.)
Anyway, to get on with the story: I have a new purse. Well, I’ve had it for a year, but I just started using it. (Oh, the lessons we learn at our mother’s knee and never forget. I always had to bring new things home and save them to wear. I hated that and would let my daughter wear her new clothes home. But now I see I still follow Mother’s rules on myself.) I love this purse. It was sitting on the seat when my husband heaved himself into the car last week. Not looking, he crushed it with his elbow. I grabbed it away so fast he fell forward. “It’s brand new,” I wanted to say. “Let it stay nice for at least a few days.” I didn’t say it, but my action might have indicated my state of mind.
The next day, I took my new purse to the park. My granddaughter had been asked to be in a photo shoot so I went along to help since she is six months old and new at sitting up. My purse could have stayed at home, safe and sound, but oh, no, I had to take it.
The sky was gray and every once and a while, there’d be an ominous rumbling. As the sky darkened and the growl of thunder became louder, I could feel the threat in the air. I looked up to see if there was lightning visible. A friend of mine had a brother-in-law who’d been playing golf during a storm and took shelter under a tree. He took a direct hit from a lightning bolt, barely surviving. His clothes were burned right off of him.
I looked around at all these people standing under trees or tents held up by metal poles. Babies sat in strollers with metal frames. To me, they looked like cattle lined up waiting for slaughter. I didn’t want to be the old grandma predicting dire circumstances, but when I saw a flash of lightning, I couldn’t help telling my daughter I thought we should leave.
My daughter agreed with me, and we began walking to the parking lot. A few drops of rain became a torrent in less than a minute. The rain morphed into hail balls that hurt when they hit your skin. Serious lightning and thunder played above our heads as we hurried up the path.
My daughter pulled the space-age sun cover over the baby to shield her from the hail. I looked at the stroller, wondering just how much metal it was made of. That’s when I saw the condition of my new purse. It looked more like a pail than a purse. Both of the side pockets were filled with two inches of water. The main part was spattered with rain and mud.
And I didn’t care. In the scheme of themes, a ruined purse didn’t add up to much. So what if things weren’t perfect or nice? It really didn’t matter. I was glad my phone was sheltered in my pants’ pocket, but what I really, really cared about was getting the three of us inside the car. When we finally were, we dripped water all over the seats. We were drenched and looked like drowning rats, but we were safe.
My daughter put her wet hands on the steering wheel and started laughing. I shivered a couple of times, and joined her. A moment later, so did the baby. We sat in that parking lot and didn’t move. We just laughed.
Why? Because we were safe? Because the whole thing was so ridiculous? Because people plan and God laughs? Because perfect is so obviously not important? Yes, for all of those reasons. But in the end I think we laughed just for the pure joy of it–of being three generations of Muscatel women sharing a moment we’d never forget.