2021: Storm Warning

Clarksville is located in the No Parking /Tow Zone of Tornado Alley so warning sirens and verbal warnings echoing from downtown loudspeakers are no surprise on a stormy April evening. It’s an unnerving sound much like the albino plague victims in The Omega Man chanting “Nevvillle” as they ring around Charlton Heston’s apartment building and as it drifts with the wind it puts all of us on edge.It bothered my grandson Jayden more than anyone else last night: he will be eight in June and he’s starting to notice details in life that up to this point in life he had been oblivious to. He was also just coming off the medication he takes to combat the severe attention deficit/hyperactivity he battles daily so his reaction was even more pronounced.

He bounced around our bedroom, stopping by the open window screen at each lap to listen to those spectral voices warn everyone to “seek shelter now”. At first he would only stop for clarification or explanation of terms used in the warnings, but on the third stop he decided to take a more proactive stance. He has a marginally-functional smart-phone handed down to him after an upgrade and while it doesn’t work as a phone he can use it for games and camera work. He loves taking pictures and making videos but this time he put his phone to a more altruistic use.

He decided to broadcast his own warning announcements:

  • “Dere’s a reawwy bad storm coming everybody!”
  • “Everybody better get a good pwace to hide!”
  • “It’s reawwy scary so be careful of any tornadoes next to your house”

He’d  record his messages in as loud a voice as he could muster, then hold the phone up to the screen and play them back with the volume turned up as high as it could go. His expression was stern as a only a second grader can achieve but at the same time I couldn’t help but smile at the speech impediment that is endearing even as it fades.

… but something else added to my grin: even while totally terrified he was doing his best to protect his family, friends and neighbors, showing a level of transpersonal commitment rare in someone so young. I was also thankful that  he had a support system in depth, that in his time of fear he had parents and grandparents to reassure him.

It made the stormy night not so scary, even with the sirens and loudspeakers.