The massive down pour and floods outside today brought me back to my flood story of 1991.
It was a Wednesday, D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) day at school in 5th grade. I had to wear my black D.A.R.E. t-shirt with my green plaid uniform pants.
On a normal day, we wore yellow blouses, so the t-shirt was a welcomed uniform change. My grandfather who I refer to as Popo, picked me up from school everyday in his 1978 blue, 4-door Chevy Caprice.I loathed this car and having to drive home in it when all the other kids at school got escorted home with their mom's in their SUV's and mini-vans (yes, little spoiled brat I was). The rain was really coming down on this day. We took the same route home every day and just because it was raining Popo was not going to deviate from the path. Popo was as stubborn, strong-willed, wonderful man. We successfully road on our normal path until we hit traffic. Cars were stopped on the freeway avoiding driving through an under pass that was filled with water. We sat there for an hour or so looking at the underpass continue to fill with water. Frustrated with the never-ending traffic, Popo decided he was going to give it a try. He was going to attempt to drive through the water. I pleaded and pleaded with him not to but it was no use. As soon as he drove forward into the water, we knew we were doomed. The water started creeping through the cracks of the door into the car slower then faster. We both panicked. The back seat windows didn't go all the way down, so he had me crawl over to the front seat. I was a hefty 5th grader weighing in at about 170, so getting me through the window even rolled down all the way was a bit of a challenge. He sat in the drivers seat as he pushed me out the window. He told me to go get help. I was convinced Popo was stuck in the car and wouldn't be able to get help unless I got help fast. The car was quickly filling up with water. I ran along the rail of the freeway until I got passed the water. There were roaches and snakes along the road. Once I got passed the water I was running on the freeway. There were no cars coming of course because of the water. The closest exit was about 1/2 a mile away. I ran as fast as my body would let me. The first business I came to was a McDonald's. Drenched in rain water, I asked the manager if I could please use the phone to call my mom. Why didn't I call 911? Not sure. As a 5th grader all I could think of was calling my mom. When my Mom answered the phone at work, I said something like this, "Mom! Popo is stuck in the car. I got out but he is in there still. I don't know what to do. I am at McDonald's and he is in the car. I ran on the freeway with roaches crawling on my feet." McDonald's diners immediately came to my side taking the phone from my hand to talk to my Mom. It just so happened an ambulance team was taking their break. They took me to the side and let me know they were going to get my Popo out. "Hurry! He had cancer and has a bag to pee. I don't know how he can get out." He did indeed have an encounter with cancer three years prior and was in full remission. Pretty sure that was unnecessary information I shared. My brain somehow associated cancer as a reason he couldn't get out. They sat me down with some nice strangers and the manager got me a complimentary Big Mac and Dr. Pepper. I sat there for what seemed like hours when finally Popo came walking in. I rushed to give him a hug. "Your Popo is a lot stronger then you made him out to be," the ambulance men told me. I was so relieved to see him. Soon after, my Mom rushed in to pick us up. I finally felt safe as she hugged me letting me know it was all going to be okay. When we got home, I couldn't wait to get my clothes off and take a hot shower. My Mom stayed with me in the bathroom as I undressed and told her about running on the freeway (I did think it was really cool and still mention it each time I am driving with someone on that highway). As I pulled my pants off, I screamed to my mom, "Ewww! Mom! I even got dirt in my pants!" She came to my side putting her hand on my shoulder informing me it was not dirt, but my period. This my friends, is my story of my first period. I started crying. I didn't want my period! None of my friends had it yet, why did I have to? Right when I thought my day couldn't get any worse it did. In an effort to console me, she told me I now had her permission to shave my legs if I so chose to. It didn't make me feel any better. I stepped into the shower, letting the hot water run down my face to clear the tears.
My Popo continued to drive the Chevy Caprice for the next 15 years until he passed away. It had a moldy, old wet smell to it, always reminding me of the day of the flood.