There is a good reason my friends and family don’t particularly want to stand close to me in a storm. I’ve been hit by lightning three times and had two other close calls.
The Striking Sink
The first time was many years ago in the house where I raised my sons. We were in the process of moving in and things were still packed in boxes.
But it was getting closer to suppertime and we were hungry. That was back before this area was developed. Not only were there no fast food places; there weren’t even any grocery stores within thirty minutes driving distance.
A storm was hitting us hard, so I took advantage of the opportunity to teach my children about safety. I cautioned about staying away from windows, running water, etc. I knew the lesson sunk in because the thunder and lightening were fierce and quite visible through the windows that had not yet been covered.
However, I eventually gave in to our hunger and began locating a few food items in the boxes sitting in the kitchen floor. I put a chair in the middle of our large kitchen, clearly away from the window, yet where my kindergartner could watch the “pictures in the sky.”
Once I had things laid out, I proceeded to wash my hands. (That was before the days of hand sanitizer.) In a split second a ball of fire appeared on my hands where the water was running. The thunder cracked at almost the same moment and I screamed in pain and held my hand.
Before I respond further, my younger son yelled, “Mother, you broke all the rules!” My left hand was blackish where it hit hard and was sore clear through, and arm was sore. Quite aware of my personal hypocrisy I somehow managed to scramble up some food. I never had to remind anyone of storm safety again, not even myself.
Get Mother Off the Phone
The second strike wasn’t nearly so dramatic although it did cause its fair share of pain in the head. Since I had been hit by lightning once, I was aware that there were several ways to be injured, including the telephone wires.
I was on the phone with my good friend and neighbor, and she assured me she had one more thing to tell me. Since there was an ongoing storm, one of the kids yelled at me to get off the phone, but I hung on a bit to hear that last piece of information. Bad idea, as the hit was in my ear and caused a headache unlike any pain I’d ever had.
Somehow I completely forgot the urgent message she was giving me. These repeated lightening strikes were beginning to look like a pattern!
See Mother Fly Across the Room
Several years later there was a lightning storm in mid-June the likes of which hadn’t been seen in decades. It split a tree down the street in three pieces vertically, leaving grayish-black areas in its wake. That was only the beginning.
A few moments later I was at the proverbial sink again, washing my hands. I heard it, saw it, screamed, then lost awareness while I flew across the room, coming down on the snack bar and skinning my back across the edges. My husband made it to the kitchen in response to my scream just in time to see my landing.
It was a big ball again, and also knocked out each and every electrical item in my house. That included the dishwasher, TV, organ, AC, and several other things we depended on daily. What a headache it was to get them repaired, doing insurance claims, etc. But the worst part was the shock’s aftereffects and soreness I had for quite a while.
This time I got mad and vowed I’d solve the problem with my kitchen sink. I was almost ready to sell the house, and was unwilling to pass it on till the problem was solved.
The experts found out that the grounding hadn’t been performed properly, and the place at the kitchen sink where the water entered the house was not grounded at all. This welcomed lightning into our home. I was happy to finally solve the problem. Maybe it wasn’t me; maybe it was just the house and now the nightmare was over for good.
Don’t Get Bored in Kansas
A couple of years later we drove to see the grandkids in Colorado, taking the route across Kansas. At one point I complained that this drive was soooooo boring. I quickly repented for insulting the prairie as what started as a fascinating dustdevil soon became a tornado and gradually headed our way.
There was no place to seek cover. As it slanted toward the highway we frantically looked for a safe place. Finally we found an overpass. We stopped there and eventually there were 28 cars in that spot. However, it provided no protection for the hail which came in sideways.
My husband says I should never admit to being bored on the open road, especially in Kansas. I’ve solemnly promised to never get bored in Kansas again.
Having a Ball on the Open Road
We’d heard on the weather that an ugly front was on its way, so we left earlier than we had planned. We decided to boogie without stopping for anything but gas when we noticed the storm was following us.
Feeling confident in our plan, we were more than a bit terrified when we heard an intense crack and saw a huge ball of lightening less than a car’s length from us beside the highway. We stopped at the first opportunity – only to find our fellow travelers were equally traumatized and had stopped also.
No one was hurt, but we were all nearly scared to death. We had never even heard of this type of event occurring.
We stood around a while trying to process the amazing sight. It reminded us of one of those balls people walk inside of at the circus. Only it was real! Eventually, all the cars went on their way with a story which they would never forget.
So the next time you see me singing This Little Light of Mine you will know I really mean it!
Maybe these stories explain why my family and friends don’t want to stand near me when there is a storm. Truth be told, I usually find my way inside and stay away from water and windows, except to enjoy the beauty of lightning from the middle of the room.
Most of my experiences have been with ball lightning, which I had never even been aware of beforehand, although I did have quite a run-in with Hurricane Alicia. It doesn’t seem to have affected my life or health too much, but I have some bright and shining memories which will never go away☺
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Contact the author for print or online republication.