Today marks a sad day in our family. 25 years ago, on April 2, 1982, a tornado struck the city of Paris, Texas. When all was said and done, 11 people had died and over 700 homes were destroyed or damaged. Two of those people were family members. My grandmother, Ora Spangler, and my aunt, Martha Jo Landers, were two of those killed.
I was 19 years old at the time. I had just barely gotten to my new post at Fort Riley, Kansas. I was fresh out of boot camp and A.I.T. We were on manuevers in the field when the call came to me about what had happened. I was granted a pass and I came to Paris to help clean up what we could.
It was a mess! At one point I thought that this tornado was gunning for my family! It came down and hit 3 houses in a row. One was my Aunt Jo’s, the next my grandmother’s and the next my cousin’s. It then lifted up and skipped a couple of houses before scooting my other cousin’s home off of the foundation! It then proceeded to skip across town and hit a couple of other home’s that belonged to the family!
I also remember my dad’s reactions. He was so lost. He had lost his precious momma and his sister! It was one of the few times I ever saw my dad cry!
I remember sifting through the wreckage and finding pictures, books, and things that were held precious but were now torn, wet and useless. I wasn’t interested in family history at this time and it never struck me at how much history had been lost. No longer was my grandmother available for conversation. No longer would I be able to see my Aunt Jo.
Granted, we didn’t get to see my dad’s side of the family very often. I have heard many stories as to why but I will not divulge them. However, I do remember how nice it was to be around my grandman Spangler. She was fun to be around. She always made you feel welcome. Aunt Jo was the same. I really do wish I could have been able to have experienced sitting down with them in later years and having a good discussion but now that is not to be!
Today, we are sad because we remember what was lost 25 years ago. Tomorrow, just like we did 25 years ago, we will continue with life. We’ll just be a little more empty!