As the South recovers from the second-deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in U.S. history, I want to take some time to reflect on what’s really important.  While we didn’t have any damage, the tornadoes were all around us and many people suffered great loss.  Times like this help put things in their proper perspective.

I stayed at work late Wednesday to take a final for my MBA (the last final of my MBA… EVER!).  I got home around 9:30 and while the storms were all over the news, we hadn’t had so much as a drop of rain.  Tall trees surround our house and our girls’ bedrooms are on the second story, so bad storms always make us a little nervous. 

I’m usually the one on storm patrol.  I watch the radar, keep an eye on all the warnings, and make the decision to move to the basement if the weather warrants doing so.  Since I knew I wouldn’t be home until late, I told Sara to make sure she watched the news and to get the girls in the basement if she needed to.  After I got home, I ended up staying up past 12:30 – watching the weather updates until I was satisfied that the threat had passed.

The next day, I went down to the basement and saw Sara’s preparation.  We’ve had lots of tornado warnings, but this one had her particularly nervous, so she prepped the basement accordingly.  There was a mattress, a couple of bicycle helmets for the kids, and some supplies.  Included in the supplies were a gallon of water, a bowl for the dog to drink out of, Pop Tarts, candles, and a flashlight.  Next to this bag of survival gear (who could live without Pop Tarts?) were family picture albums, keepsakes, and another bag filled with shoes and clothes. 

Our basement is sort of a catchall for various junk that includes lots of old clothes waiting to go to Goodwill.  At first, I thought this bag was clothing waiting to be donated.  I’m no fashion expert, but I’ve seen enough What Not To Wear to know that these were not old clothes.  In fact, they were very nice clothes.  It turns out that as Sara moved through the priority of list of things she wanted to keep in case a tornado demolished our house, the top three were survival supplies, family photos, and her “prettiest” shoes and clothes.  I don’t even know if they were in that order, but that was the top three. 

I did’t see a first aid kit, any medicine, a telephone, a radio, diapers, or any of that frivolous stuff, but I did see several pairs of shoes that would be absolutely useless if our house was destroyed.  One of my wife’s favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz.  I guess she thought that if a tornado took us away, she could click the heels of her pretty shoes together and repeat, “There’s no place like home.”

I know this story is a little flippant in the wake of a true tragedy, but humor is an important ingredient to recovery.  For the record, Sara is not so shallow that she esteems her clothes as prized possessions; she just isn’t the best at making quick decisions under pressure.  I, on the other hand, am a decent decision-maker, but she has to dress me.  It’s those complimentary aspects – the incorporation of each other’s strengths and flaws – that makes us complete.  Yeah, that’s a little sappy, but I had to add something to keep her from getting too mad at me for writing about the shoes.