Respect where it’s due

Published 10:02 pm Monday, July 28, 2014

Driving to work Thursday on Route 58, I kept hearing a little voice inside my head asking whether it was wise to be on the road at this particular moment in time.

With a 9:30 a.m. appointment in a subdivision near Obici Hospital, I pressed on as lightning flashed liberally across the bruised sky.

As I veered onto the exit ramp, the bruise turned almost black, and the rain began tumbling.

Email newsletter signup

Arriving at the assignment five minutes early, I sat in the car checking messages on my phone, hoping the rain and lightning might ease off a little.

A voicemail from 11:30 p.m. the night before: “Hello Matt, this mum (no, not “mom” for this one). I’ll be arriving at Norfolk at 9:30 in the morning. I changed my flights — now coming via Philadelphia. Bye.”

After four flights from Australia, she was meant to be arriving the next morning. But most of us know that air travel can be a mercurial beast.

The rain bucketing, the lightning flaring, the sky darkening even more, I made a snap decision that it would be easier to reschedule the lady looking through the window at someone sitting in his car outside her house than to leave my mother to fend for herself in unfamiliar territory.

As I got back on Route 58 in the opposite direction, the rain only got heavier. It was everyone-driving-with-their-flashers-on heavy, and with my speedometer needle not lifting above 45 miles per hour all the way to the airport, mum was left to her own devices in the arrivals lobby for an hour or so.

It might have been a torrential downpour, but the worst for Suffolk was yet to come. In the early evening, the second storm turned a couple of streets into lakes — most severely Clay Street — stranding people in vehicles.

Police rescued at least seven people from semi-submerged vehicles after the line of thunderstorms hit in the evening, and several homes suffered damage.

As I drove to the airport, the rain only eased after taking the exit off Interstate 64. Mum was deposited at home to finally sleep in a bed after three days, and my stood-up source was very understanding.

The lessons from all this? Check your messages before leaving the house, and respect Mother Nature — and your mother.