He clearly hadn't thought this one through. The kids already practically burrow beneath our skin when they hear the slightest rumble of thunder. If there is no longer safety indoors, thanks to Great-Grandpa's magnetic legacy, I'm not sure of our next move. Fall-out shelter?
"STOP!" I yell. "DON'T YOU DARE TELL THEM THAT STORY!" My husband can't hear me or he's become immune to the distinct frequency of my nagging. Perhaps he can't hear me because I've deafened him over the years. Whatever the reason, he finished his story (and the kids added their own gems about tornadoes ripping off your skin. Boys!).
On Fridays I visit my grandparents and clean their house for them so they don't have to. We chat a little as I work, and then talk more when we sit to eat lunch together. Today I mentioned my family's desire to record some of their stories so we would be able to hold pieces of them long after they leave us. My grandmother furrowed her eyebrow and declared that it sounded like a lot of work. Besides, she and my grandpa remembered things differently.
Of course you do, Grandma. You're married, after all.
Somehow conversation turned to my husband's grandfather, the human lightning rod, and then to my friend's mother who was struck by lightning while milking a cow (is that where fried cheese curds come from?).
"That happened to my mother," Grandma announced.
Before my grandmother came into the world, her mother miscarried another baby. With no little one to feed, her chest became engorged to the point where fluid gathered in her legs. They referred to this as "milk leg", and they believed the swelling in the legs was the milk running down and filling up the lower extremities. My great-grandmother was advised to wear some kind of rubberized stockings, likely some sort of compression stocking, to help with the swelling.
A storm blew through soon afterward, and she ran outside to bring one of the cows into the shelter of the barn. Lightning filled the air with electric charge and stung the ground at her toes. Great-grandma's rubber socks saved her life. In the years following, she would conceive and give birth to a fiery baby girl, my grandmother.
The more I think about the lightning strike, the compression stockings, the baby lost, the branches of the family tree that may have never sprouted, I am amazed. And this is why we tell our tales - the good, the bad, the seemingly boring. In the telling and retelling of our stories, we reveal the everyday tragedies and miracles that affect us all.
But, still, my husband probably needs to keep that whole lightning striking indoors thing under wraps.