Friday. Dark stormy day. Still stuck at home recuperating from bronchitis, reading the final chapters of “The Promise” at the same time a powerful thunderstorm moved through Houston. Eerie timing. Ann Weisgarber’s chapters were so powerful they left me drained and – not to give anything away – depressed. But then I’ve been housebound for days. “The Promise” is so good it makes me mad I didn’t write it (small joke, but high praise). I’m amazed and humbled that such a talented author has become a champion of my manuscript.
But back to the storm, at one point I put my book down to watch it hail. Just a brief flurry of pea-sized ice, nothing like the hail storms that roar through Denver on a regular basis during the summer. Don sold cars in Denver, and hail damage was a continual threat to any dealership’s inventory. Any ice coming from the sky here is rare, as illustrated from this excerpt from FLOM. It refers to Don’s last weekend at home:
If Houston is to have any winter weather to speak of, it generally comes in short bursts in January and the winter of 1996-1997 was no exception. The second Sunday of the month I got up before dawn with some thought of driving into town to cheer on an employee running the Houston marathon. I opened the bedroom door to find the house hot and ablaze with lights. Don had given up any pretense of sleeping. However, unlike in his drinking days, he now left the volume on the television turned down low while I was in bed.
I was brewing coffee and trying to figure out what might tempt him to eat breakfast when I heard a commotion on the patio. I looked up to see Don equally puzzled. I opened the back door to the sight of beads of ice bouncing on the patio.
“Sleet,” I said.
We were going on our ninth year in Houston, and had both forgotten what it sounded like. Over the next few hours our world became encased in ice. Driving in winter weather can be frightening under any circumstances, but it is downright terrifying in the company of a million or so drivers for whom pumping the brakes is a foreign concept. I stayed home and was relieved when work was called off the next day and then the day after that. Don and I spent three peaceful days together. They would prove to be his last at home.