The weekend of Memorial Day in 2004, we were all at home for a surprise birthday party for my stepbrother Kevin. That morning my sister and I were eating breakfast at the motel where we were staying when our stepsister Sissy came down with a strange look on her face. She said:
There’s been a devastating tornado. It’s in the town where your mother and Tom live.
My sister and I rushed to our phones, but as is so often the case after a natural disaster, all the circuits were busy. We told each other that Mother was a survivor and that she would make it through. Despite our fractured relationship with her, we still worried about her well-being.
We returned home that afternoon and the next day Mother called. She had taken shelter at the local high school since she couldn’t possibly stay at her home. Tom was recuperating at the local nursing home, so we knew that both of them were safe. The Red Cross had provided food and shelter for those who could no longer live in their homes, and Mother was taking them up on their hospitality.
As it turned out, Mother would be the last person to leave the shelter of the high school after two weeks.
Now the funny thing about this story is that somehow a writer for the Christian Science Monitor managed to find Mother and he wrote a front page story about her. In it she claimed that she was busy cleaning her house when the tornado struck. Of course, my sister and I both thought that cleaning her house might be a real first for her. She said that she was mad that the tornado made her pots and pans fall off the shelves and that she shook her fist at the storm. The story was very dramatic and very colorful.
There was just one problem: none of it was true. Mother and her infatuation with creating a good story had helped this writer do his job. In fairness to him, he couldn’t possibly check out the things he was writing since 80% of the town was destroyed. He just had to take Mother’s word for things. And of course, Mother knew how to tell a good story.
As you probably realize, the Christian Science Monitor had to go out of business awhile ago. I like to hope it had nothing to do with Mother and her fabrications.