|The Crist and Peterson families|
In early October, we began tracking Michael, a storm that was growing into a Category 5 threat to the Panhandle. It showed no signs of weakening or changing directions. Panama City was in its sights.
My parents, who now live at Mathison Retirement Community, received a call at 9 p.m. on October 9th. They were told to pack a small bag with three days worth of provisions. They were going on a road trip. (If the theme song to "Gilligan's Island" is running through your head, you're not alone.)
Mom and Dad dutifully packed up and, with the rest of the Mathison residents, boarded a bus the next morning. By the time Michael roared through at full force, they were safely in Montgomery.
|Mom, Dad and Jakie|
Our road trip took us from Birmingham to my sister's in Parkland via a short stop in Panama City to collect more clothes. The town was unrecognizable, with buildings flattened or sporting blue tarps, trees down everywhere, and debris of all sorts wherever you looked. The devastation was mind-boggling.
Our arrival in Parkland was a relief to everyone. My parents settled in for a stay of several months. They were given an important job -- taking care of Jakie while my sister transitioned to a full-time job. Timing is everything.
I would be less than truthful if I said this time has been easy. It hasn't. Living together again after decades of being independent required lots of flexibility and respect. Some days were better than others. And then there were the day-to-day issues of seniors. New doctors had to be found to treat my parents' various ailments. There were four trips to the ER -- a pair for each -- and a couple of near death experiences for my dad. I finally have a real appreciation of the difficulty of my parents' daily life.
Most importantly, our family had this time together. It was a gift. And I'm so proud of my parents for the strength they showed throughout this time of upheaval.
Mom and Dad are now resettled at Mathison, which has been freshly roofed, carpeted and painted. The welcome back they received from the staff left no question that they are in good hands. Now the transition back to independence begins again for us all.