As a genealogist, I solved the mystery of my late aunt, Erma Louise Hendricks’ name. She died as a baby, almost a decade before my father was born. Everyone who would have known the naming of Erma was dead, save her much younger sibling. I realized the name came from my grandfather, Herman, on a sunny afternoon in 1993. Not one single person cared, but my father did comment, “There was a movie that came out when I was a kid… called ‘My Friend Irma’…” I never heard the name repeated, or even thought on such a horrible name for a child -or a movie – until it came…
In the form of a hurricane.
In June, I moved to Bloomingdale, Georgia, a quiet hamlet of Savannah. When my fellow Griffinites ask me to describe it, I comment, “put a little Milner with a little Orchard Hill – now make it smaller.” They get it pretty quickly – and that is a compliment. I always liked our little Spalding County and Lamar County hamlets – they’re conservative, quiet, and everyone knows everyone. Only I think, in Bloomingdale, I know four people and I’ve lived there a few months. I teach in Savannah and go to Church in Pooler (note, I’m a Catholic -that capital “C” is on purpose)… Bloomingdale… Sweet little town…
Savannah closed our schools on Friday – I spent Thursday with my library clerk preparing our labs and media center. Because we weren’t burdened with many classes or children, we made good time. By 4:00, I was done – she left at her normal 3:00 – and I immediately went home. Lines were already forming for gas. I made it to Bloomingdale to a co-worker’s family gas station, called my son to bring the gas cans, and his own car. We gassed up – and my son immediately departed, going back roads. I think they ran out of gas about an hour after we were there. Whew!
I had packed days before, including – as a Southern belle would – my hope chest. My hope chest was handcrafted by the Amish with my entire maiden name and probably is the most expensive thing I own, next to the conception, birth, rearing, and education of my son. My husband and I departed in our two vehicles and traveled the same South Georgia back roads my son traveled earlier. Those back roads took us to Jackson, GA – where we went over I-75 to our Spalding County and saw the lines of traffic, at 2:00 AM.
I arrived at my parents’ house – husband went to a friend’s house so our Boston could also have a haven (my mother’s German Shepherd doesn’t socialize well). I thank God for our friends for housing up my husband and my Boston – I’ll pay them back with a weekend in Savannah on St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah. They are true Irish – as for me, I’m sleeping married in a single bed and watching episodes of Outlander to my heart’s content. I even ventured to Wal-Mart and purchased two rolls of yarn in my Mercer colors. I have already crocheted my way into a “Halloween” colored afghan. I still don’t know why my alma mater has orange and black for our colors, but eh – GO BEARS!
Now it is September 11th – days into the evacuation. Florida is being hammered. Savannah waits. My Griffin, located in South Atlanta, is under a tropical storm warning. I can’t remember us having one before. I miss my home in Bloomingdale, but my childhood home is safe. I’ve had my entire life’s storms in this old house – and I wouldn’t be anywhere else.
To my friends and students in Savannah that stayed – buckle down. I’ll see you soon. To the first child I ever held and loved – my godson and his family – please take care. I love you all. To my childhood friends and college friends in Florida, I hope to see you soon. Hang tight.
God, get this storm over with, protect the lives of people, and let it be gone. Irma needs to bid adieu – my first Savannah experience with a hurricane.
Somehow, I don’t think it’s my last.