The Mom of No: The Plan


The Mom of No

Quite awhile ago, I was surfing through the 4,000 channels on the TV, looking for something interesting to watch. I’m not usually much of a TV watcher so I must have been home sick or something, but I finally settled on a show about people prepping for the apocalypse. The family in the show was prepared to go off the grid for years after the total breakdown of society. They had a plan in place and they were ready. They had shelves stockpiled with food, water, medicines and sanitary items, all hidden in a bunker out in the middle of nowhere. It was absolutely impressive. As someone who appreciates a good plan, I was in awe of the logistics involved here.

After watching this show, I surveyed my pantry. I have enough food to last two teenagers about 5 days. Maybe six, if you include the stuff no one likes — canned beets, trail mix with coconut (coconut is not a preferred flavor in the Household of No), and the stuff that requires other stuff and the application of heat to actually become something edible, like flour or rice.

I didn’t give it much thought after that.

Last week, as Hurricane Harvey unfolded in Houston, I called the Grandpa of No every day, checking on him. Water was backing up on his street. Water was in his yard. Water was up to the landscaping by his house. Water was nearly up to his front door.

What are you going to do? I asked him. What is your plan? The Grandpa of No has always been a man with a plan. What are you going to do about Mom? My mother’s Alzheimer’s is steadily progressing, and she gets agitated in unfamiliar environments.

Well, I don’t know, he responded. Your mother refuses to leave the house.

Later, I was on the Internet with the Son of Never Stops Eating, looking for information on animal-related charities, and we came across some comments criticizing people who had stayed in the Houston area. “Why didn’t they leave before the hurricane?” the commenter said. “I would have been gone. I would have taken my fur-babies and gotten out of there.”

Maybe people stayed because the footprint of the Houston area is huge, or because Harvey didn’t impact just Houston but all along the Texas coast. Maybe people remembered the mess that was the Hurricane Rita evacuation in 2005, with freeways backed up for miles. Maybe more people than we realize have family members with autism and Alzheimer’s disease and other disabilities and illnesses that make it difficult to just pack up and go.

When leaving the house to go to the grocery store requires a series of carefully choreographed steps, planning an evacuation from a potential disaster probably seems overwhelmingly impossible.

The day after the water was at the Grandpa of No’s front door, I called his cell phone and received no answer. I sat at my computer, mulling over options. I didn’t have the phone number of the neighbor who had been checking on him. I wasn’t sure who the law enforcement authority was in the area. Just as horrible possibilities started playing out in my mind, he answered his phone.

“We’re all good here,” he told me. “It got close, but we’re still at the house and the water is receding from the yard.”

The entire event made me realize, whatever plans we have, they’re inadequate. I am the prepping equivalent of going into a disaster with a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.

Planning for emergencies is easy to put off, because there are so many other things that require attention, and after all, what were the chances that a Category 4 hurricane would slam right into the Texas coast, causing massive flooding in the metropolitan area where your parents live?

I don’t think I’ll be stockpiling five year’s worth of water, however. Alas, I lack a huge underground bunker in which to store it.

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