Fleeing Florence

We started to worry when we heard that Jane was leaving.

Jane never leaves.

At nearly 85, she’s stared down her share of hurricanes, undaunted. But as Florence approached, Nat’s brother had traveled from Connecticut to her house near the NC coast to help her move all her stuff to a safer area, then drive with her to Richmond, where she would literally wait until the coast was clear.

For those of you who don’t know Jane, this is Jane, circa 2013:

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 6.50.29 AM

After I had my first child, Jane came to help care for her while I went back to work for a few weeks to finish my year as Chief Resident before moving to Boston. Not only did she take care of the baby, she dusted, cleaned windows, planted flowers, swept the porch,  took her on long walks, made dinner. One of my friends said “I went by your house today and saw your mother-in-law up on the roof, baby in one hand, hammer in the other, nailing down a shingle.” That was only a slight exaggeration. That is Jane.

So you can see why we raised an eyebrow when we found out Jane was packing up to get away from this hurricane.

Meanwhile, in Rock Hill, we fretted. We had tickets to fly out of the Charlotte, NC airport, for our long-awaited bike trip WHEN? Mid-morning on Friday .

The hurricane was scheduled to hit our area WHEN? Mid-morning on Friday.

“Can’t you cancel your patients on Thursday and leave a day early?” a friend suggested helpfully.

In my brain, that question sounded like this:  “Do you want to cause your scheduler, Tammy, to have a heart attack?”

No. When I already work part time and people are constantly letting me know they can’t get an appointment with me (or sometimes anyone), I can’t cancel a day of patients. I love Tammy. I cause her enough stress already on a daily basis.

We decided to leave on Thursday night after work. There was an 8:00 o’clock flight out, and we could both work a full day, then go straight to the airport. My husband, who could moonlight as a travel agent if he wanted to, got on the computer and the phone and rebooked our flight.

We weren’t here for Hurricane Hugo in 1989, but it remains the stuff of legend in the Charlotte area. No one had imagined the destruction that a hurricane could bring so far from the coast. People described all sorts of chaos, finding porch furniture down the block at the neighbors, windows shattered by flying debris, trees down on houses and cars,  flushing toilets with bathtub water for weeks (or not flushing at all), walking around with candles and flashlights in the dark. KWg87bGyTLKlVroPRYEwEQWith that in mind, we spent Wednesday night redecorating our house, because what living room is complete without a gas grill in the center of it, along with all sorts of wicker porch furniture, outdoor umbrellas, and an outdoor heater thoughtfully placed hither and thither?




The next morning, we carpooled to work. This is only the second time we’ve done this in 20 years of working near each other (and 4 of working in the same building). As we did the first time, we parked here: %hKAvfU9RGOY7QtRuqZsxw





(Because here is where you always park when you carpool with a cardiologist whose motto is NOT  “do as I say, not as I do” as mine is,  but “I walk the walk….and walk and walk.”

I briefly considered calling an uber to take me to the entrance of our building.)

We went to work. We saw patients, answered messages, sent in refills, signed orders, reviewed lab results and studies, saw more patients. Then it was time to go.

As the clouds gathered, we jumped in the car and headed to the airport, parked, shuttled in, checked our bags, only to find when we got there that the flight had been delayed. Then it was delayed again. The wind began to pick up a bit.

We worried that if the flight were delayed more, we would not be able to take off.  My husband asked the ticketing lady if we could get on an earlier flight as we checked our luggage. “There’s one boarding now,” she said, and gave us seats on that one. We zoomed through security, rushed to the gate, climbed aboard the plane, and the door closed behind us.  The engines roared. The plane backed up, found its runway and soared into the gathering clouds.

Not only had we escaped the hurricane in the nick of time, we had gained a bonus night in New York City.

Sometimes life calls you to stay and face a storm.

Sometimes you get the hell out.





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