Week 45: Stormy Weather

Amazingly, it’s Week 45 of the Generations 52 Weeks 52 Ancestors Challenge. I’ve managed to write something for each week’s challenge but not necessarily 52 different ancestors. I’ve just enjoyed letting the challenge words trigger some remembrance about anyone or any situation in our family history. I’m pleased with myself for writing every week!

While there have been many periods of stormy weather in the lives of our family members (imagine those coming across the ocean or those following the Oregon Trail) I recall two incidents of stormy weather in my life that left me with those images imprinted in my brain. I just wish I had actual pictures!

My Dad, Jim McDearmid, died on July 4, 1954 at 2 A.M. He had been in hospital for two weeks being treated for kidney disease. July 4th was a Sunday so I imagine he was buried later that week. His funeral was at Gurnee Community Church in the afternoon on a sunny summer day. I remember that the church was full and the two songs he had requested were I Come to the Garden Alone and Old Rugged Cross. There were 35 cars in his funeral procession to the North Shore Garden of Memories where he was buried in a family plot. The minister led the family and friends in prayers and as the interment ceremony ended huge raindrops started to fall. People rushed to their cars and headed back to our house arriving there just in time to get in the house out of the rain. The wind came up, the sirens blew, tree branches fell and a tornado passed within a few miles of our house. I always thought that God held up the storm until our family got home safely.

Gurnee Community Church

The day of my wedding, August 15, 1959, dawned hot, humid and sunny. Our house was not air conditioned, nor was the church so dressing up for the wedding was a sticky adventure. I don’t remember that a storm was forecast. My family drove to the Gurnee church and I went to the bride’s room to await the start of the ceremony. As the guests arrived we could hear thunder in the distance. I remember looking at Jim as we said our vows and sweat was pouring off his face. When the ceremony was over and we headed down the aisle we realized rain was pouring down. After our cake and coffee reception at the church the rain had subsided and we left to head home. My new brother-in-law found the large cardboard box that the flowers came in. He wrapped that around me and my gown and carried me to his car that he had pulled up to the church stairs (leaving huge ruts in the yard that my Mom had to repair). Richie started driving back to my house only to find that all the viaduct/ underpasses were flooded and there was no way to get home! We just had to wait for the storm to pass and the water to recede enough that he could drive through to get us home. We had a lovely family dinner then happily headed off under clear blue skies to the Moraine on the Lake Hotel where we spent our wedding night (ordering pizza delivered at midnight!).

Summer thunderstorms in the Midwest come and go in a flash. I lived in Illinois for 37 years and experienced many storms, many hours in the basement waiting for tornado warnings to pass and many hours watching the sky turn green and the clouds try to funnel down to the earth. Thankfully, my family never experienced the devastation of a tornado. Happily these two storms just left us with stories to tell of memorable days.

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