You're 21. What's going on in your life? Who are you spending most of your time with? What's favorite things to do? eat? hobby?
My 21st year was an interesting one. I was living in Homestead, Florida and was in my 6th month of pregnancy with my 1st child, Jeremy, on the day I turned 21. I was unmarried, but in a serious relationship with Jeremy's dad. A lot of people go and get drunk on their 21st birthday because legally you can now. Not me! I was pregnant! So, I bought a 4 pack of wine coolers for Jeremy's dad just so I could say I bought them. The girl didn't even card me! I was ticked! I told her, "I'm sorry, but you have to card me." When she seen my license she realized why I was so insistent. For my birthday, Tommy (Jeremy's dad) took me out to an expensive restaurant. For the life of me, I cannot remember what he got me for my birthday. It was a very nice birthday.
Let's fast forward to a couple months later. It was August 23rd, and Tommy and I were supposed to go out of town to Disney World for a couple of days. Our plans were interrupted because upon waking that morning, we realized that the hurricane that wasn't expected to hit us had suddenly turned and heading straight at us now. Tommy was the assistant manager of the Winn Dixie grocery store in Homestead. So, he had no choice but to head into work. The grocery stores and lumber yards were swarmed with people who had to prepare for a hurricane that was expected to hit the next day. I got on the phone to the local hospital to find out if I needed to spend the night there since I would be entering my 9th month pregnancy the following day. I was instructed by the woman who answered the phone that they only accept women who were within 2 weeks of their due date unless their doctor recommended otherwise. I called and called my OBGYN, but he would never call back. Did I mention I was on Medicaid? The doctors consider you trash when your on public assistance. Urgh! I shouldn't have listened to the hospital staff. I found out after the fact that they didn't turn away any woman who was pregnant that came to the hospital.
We didn't board up our house; after all, the hurricane was expected to be a category 2 or 3 by the time it made landfall. No big deal, right? We went to sleep and the storm grew and grew. I awoke in the very early morning hours to the sound of the click of the TV turning off because we lost power. I could hear the wind outside. It sounded bad! I woke Tommy, and told him to turn off the TV. He laughed about it because the power was out, but I was worried that if it turned back on we may get a power surge. Little did I know we wouldn't have power again for 6 more weeks. It was a BIG hurricane! Hurricane Andrew grew to be a category 5 hurricane by the time it hit us. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever been through.
As the night progressed, I spent the night in our hallway (since there were no windows there) while my parents and Tommy fought to keep the doors from blowing off of our house. They literally had to hold the doors with everything they had while my dad tried to secure them by tying them off and securing them into the door frames with screws. At one point, my father was walking towards our family room with his hands in front of him (remember he couldn't see because it was dark)and suddenly caught our garage door. I was in the hallway still and suddenly felt a very cool breeze. I knew that this wasn't good. The breeze terrified me because I knew it meant something happened. Our outside garage door had lost one of it's panels. The wind that entered our garage came in with such force that it knocked the inside garage door that leads to our house off it's hinges in the opposite direction that it normally opens into my father's arms. Thank God his arms were extended, and that he wasn't hurt or even killed by the door! My dad decided to use that door to secure the other set of french doors in our family room. He bolted it to the frame of the door, and tied the handles to it.
By the time the sun rose, Hurricane Andrew had finally passed- eye and all! I walked out our front door, and I tell you I never understood what it must have been like for Dorothy to land in Oz until that day! Nothing was the same! Nothing! I could see far into the distance because ALL the trees were GONE! Every telephone pole was down. Debris was everywhere. Dead birds scattered the ground. Power lines were on the ground. Telephone cables were on the ground. All our cars were damaged. Our house was damaged. Our pool now had a tree and our deck in it. A huge truck that we kept in the back yard that held my brother's furniture while his house was being built flipped completely over. It was a total loss. Our neighbor's house on both sides of us were damaged and their neighbor's houses were, too, and their neighbors... Then, we realized we couldn't get out. Our road was one way in and one way out, and it was completely covered in trees, debris, and telephone poles. Eventually, all the neighbors got together with their chainsaws and started cutting and hauling away pieces of the trees and telephone poles to make a path. This took several hours. During that time, my brother and his family had made it to our road. I can still see my sister-in law to this day climbing over and under trees to make it to us. She was crying hysterically by the time she reached me. She hugged me so tight and said "I couldn't stop thinking about you! I thought for sure you had delivered that baby!" My sister-in-law thought of me while her family hovered under a mattress in their closet while the roof of their house was being ripped away above them. Amazing!
Well, to make this already long story shorter, we thought we had it so bad! Then, we left and realized that most had it even worse than us. I seen houses that had fallen to the ground, houses torn off of their foundations, trailer parks with nothing to show they had even existed except for the concrete slab that they had previously stayed on, people driving cars that looked like the were undrivable because of the massive damage to them, dead horse, dogs, and cows on the streets, a moving truck on top of a two-story building, countless amounts of people who lost EVERYTHING but their lives and the clothes on their backs, and some even lost their lives. Gas, ice, food and water were hard to find. There were no grocery stores, no gas stations, no restaurants, no air conditioning, no running water, no nothing. We were forced to learn how to survive with what we had. Like, I said we had no electricity for almost 6 weeks. For some people it was longer. We had no phone for 3 months. But we were alive!
Jeremy was no dummy! He wasn't about to come out into the world when it was like this. Eventually, 2 weeks past my due date, my OBGYN (yep the same one) induced my labor. Jeremy was born on October 1st, 1992. I realized for the first time in my life what a true miracle was as I held my baby in my arms. I never knew I could have so much love for someone. He was part of me. I worried how I was going to care for him in a place like this. They teach you to avoid SIDS, you shouldn't let your baby get overheated, but there was no electricity! How was I going to sterilize his bottles? So, many questions ran through my mind. They were all eased when my parents came to see me in the hospital with the good news. Our power was finally on. I brought Jeremy home from the hospital the very next day.
This wasn't my entire 21st year, but it was the highlights and the low lights. If you've made it this far, I applaud you. Thanks for reading.