I awoke this morning at 4:30 a.m... at work. Unfortunately, it wasn't my alarm that woke me up, but the dreaded sound of the weather radio that only seems to have one volume: LOUD.
After the fifteen horrific seconds of buzzing, my favorite lady's computerized, choppy voice sounded, saying:
"Severe Thunderstorms reported in..."
At this point, I had woken up enough to fall out of bed, run across the room to the radio, and hit my favorite button: snooze.
A little more awake, I gazed out the front windows that line the "sleep room" and noticed the sunrise. There were a bunch of big clouds back lit by a vibrant red color. I crawled underneath the covers, letting the fan I always run cool my face. I usually set the fan on the ground several feet away from my bed as a noisemaker, but last night, the air conditioning seemed to be broken, and I couldn't sit around without sweating. As I drifted back off to sleep, the old adage was playing in my head... "Red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky in the morning, sailor's take warning..."
The next thing I knew, strong winds were beating against the house, and the faint sound of sirens rung in my ears. I sat up quickly, just in time to see one of the residents pop her head in the room and proclaim, "Basement time!"
"That's right," I said, recovering from my sleepiness quickly. I climbed out of bed, rushed to the kitchen, and grabbed the phone. One of the other residents had already come out of her room holding her favorite movie character figurine. I told both ladies to go down to the basement, and started making my way into the others' rooms to wake them up and tell them to follow suit.
I saved the resident who is hardest to awaken for last. I slipped into her room, turned on the light, and lightly rubbed her back. She stirred, and after a few mumbles and groans, she slowly sat up and rubbed her eyes. I chattered away about how I don't like getting up early in the morning, either. Trust me, if there's anyone who understands, it's me. I wake up every morning feeling like a truck hit me, and it's about 2 hours and a cup of coffee later until I'm convinced otherwise. Anyway, the task of waking her up and getting her moving had never been mine before, but it ended up going a lot better than expected. Perhaps that it because sirens were blaring outside.
We were all in the basement within a few minutes. The ladies did great, and made their way over to a carpeted section of the basement. One brought her favorite teddy bear. Another one laid her head down on the ground and tried to go back to sleep. And yet another one found the only chair in the whole basement.
"I've got one thing to say," she told us. "It STINKS down here."
"It smells like basement."
I made a phone call to get the latest stats on the weather. It sounded like the storm was making its way past us, but the sirens were still sounding.
I asked the ladies all kinds of questions, trying to redirect their attention away from the fact that trees were blowing every which direction outside, and rain was coming down in heaps.
Only a few moments later, the sirens stopped, and after a phone call to confirm that the worst had passed, I ushered all the ladies back upstairs and to their bedrooms.
By then, the first shift staff had just pulled up. I was surprised she braved the stormy weather, but she said she made it just fine.
The whole scenario reminded me of a bad storm that occurred during the night at work a couple of weeks ago. Again, the weather radio wasted no time in alerting me, every 10 minutes, no less, about the latest conditions. I mean, I'm grateful, but really? Every 10 minutes? Anyway, one of the residents woke up (no wonder) and shuffled out into the hall. She looked at me, wide-eyed.
"Hi sweetie," I told her, giving her a hug. "Did the weather radio wake you up?"
"There's no reason to worry," I told her. "You can go back to sleep. I'll let you know if anything changes."
She looked at me then and held up something that was in her hand. I saw that it was a little figurine of the character "Woody" from Toy Story.
She pointed to him. "Woody is scared."
I smiled and shook my head. "Then you'll just have to be brave for Woody, won't you?"
She agreed, and before turning around to head back to her bedroom, she told me, "God is playing a bowling game. He's probably bowling with my Grandpa, up in Heaven."
It's not very often that I get to interact much with the residents, being on third shift and all. I usually show up at 10, clock in, read my book, turn in for the night, wake up the next morning about 15 minutes before 1st shift arrives, and then leave. That defines most of my nights. But every once in awhile, something happens. It's a late night, and the ladies are still up when I get there. A storm hits, and one of them wakes up scared. Someone is up sick. And when these times occur, even though they aren't always convenient or fun, I find myself so thankful to be given the opportunity to interact with them, get to know their personalities, and character, and just take care of them. Yes, it's nice to know I'm there through the night if they need me. But nine times out of ten, they don't. So it's just nice to be able to interact with them on the rare occasion that they do.
As I sit and type this now, I hear thunder rumbling in the distance, and flickers of lightning light up my room. The air outside is heavy and dense, feeling like the combination of a sauna and a rain forest, if that's possible. Putting one foot in front of the other outside today was more like swimming than it was walking.
Sunnier skies are in the forecast, though, and will thankfully be making their appearance this weekend. Praise the Lord, because Imagine Artists has 2 weddings coming up, a double decker on Friday & Saturday. Should be fun. The first one is in downtown Peoria, so it will be nice to be close. Saturday's wedding is a bit of a drive, though, so it will make for a pretty late night.
We just finished up shooting a wedding last weekend. It was about an hour and a half away. The ceremony took place in a backyard. That was something fun and different, and the house there was absolutely beautiful. Basically, it's the house that all of my dreams are made of. It was older and Victorian-looking, with tons of character and tall ceilings. The decorating style is what I'd call shabby chic-vintage.
Anyway, once we get through this weekend, we still have two more weekends following of weddings. It's busy, but it's good. I know by the end, we'll be ready to have a break. It's always that way. While it gets tiring, I can't help but smile at all the memories that are made, the people we meet along the way, the times we get to celebrate with others, and the pictures we capture to help the bride and groom remember their special day forever. I've always wanted a job that had meaning and purpose. I'm glad God has given me the special opportunity at this time in my life to be used in this way with my job.
The thunder is dying down... and so is my energy. I best be off to bed. Love you all.