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COLUMNS

Outtakes Around the Lakes: In search of the 'Big One'

Frank Weaver Jr.
Suburbanite correspondent

Whenever massive storms hit, regardless of what kind they were, my father, siblings and I would sit on the long covered porch of our farm house, watching.

Frank Weaver Jr.

Dad was a bit different. Quietly, he'd watch. Every outburst of thunder, electrifying bolt of lightning or surge of snow filled winds caused him to deeply contemplate. Then, with as straight a face as he could muster, he'd turn our way and authoritatively announce,

“This is the big one, kids. This is the big one.”

Dad did it with massive thunderstorms, bolts of lightning flashing across hot, mid-summer night skies and even with Hurricane Hazel when she struck in mid-October. His favorites, though, were huge snow storms and blizzards. Dad enjoyed watching Mother Nature performing her best and always made sure he had a front row seat for himself and those of us who shared his love of nature.

Excitingly, one of us would always break ourselves loose from nature's performance and slowly worm our way inside to announce Dad's weather diagnosis to Mom.

“When it comes to storms,” Mom would say, “just pay him no mind. I've been listening to him for years, and believe me when I tell you he's called every storm we've ever seen, 'the big one.'”

And then when it was all over, we'd hop in the car and ride around the neighborhood with Dad checking out the downed trees, damaged limbs, phone lines and battered homes.

In time, I caught myself doing the same thing with our late son, Jimmy (may he rest in peace), and our daughter, Wendy, who, with four rambunctious daughters, could be searching to find a wee bit of peace herself.

A massive blizzard around the middle of January one year, when the temperature dropped to 26 below zero, stirred that childhood memory in me. Later, at the table, Jimmy turned to Peggy and said, “Mom, Frank said, 'This is the big one.' Does that mean we won't have school tomorrow?”

Each time I'd say it, Jimmy would catch on a bit more. One evening thunderstorms were predicted. He heard me mention that this could be the big one. Laughing, he ran into the dining room and plopped himself down on a chair. “Mom,” he said, “it hasn't even started to rain yet and already Frank's tagging it to be the big one. How can he do that?”

After Jimmy outgrew my weather prognosticating shenanigans, I started with Wendy, and I suspected that she loved it. Since we have always been so close, I surmise it may have been one of my personality traits that bonded us so well.

“Wendy,” I'd say after staring at an inch and a half of new fallen snow, giving the lawn a soft, white, glistening cover. “This could be the BIG one.” Like Jimmy, given enough time she'd laugh, too.

Now, after waking Christmas morning to a blanket of more snow than what this area has seen over any Christmas for a long time, I started my day singing my favorite Christmas song, White Christmas. Peggy gave me the eye that meant to either pick a key and stick with it, or stop singing.

I looked at her, pointed out the window at the deep snow, and declared, “But Honey, this could be the BIG one.”

She chuckled, then laughed, saying it reminded her of Jimmy.

Later, our grand-kids called by way of ZOOM to share with us what Santa brought them. “What did you get, Grandpa?”

Knowing Wendy was in the background, I said we got a deep, deep snow that gave us a White Christmas.

“Was this The BIG One?” the nine year old asked.

Ohhh! she got me that time, I thought. I really never stood a chance, folks.

However, I suspected our daughter, Wendy, was coaching her, and almost falling on the floor laughing to beat the band!

And so was I.

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com