Once upon a wet, winter night…


Thunder sounded across the valley followed by lightning knifing the high peaks of the Ko`olau mountains. I peeked out the window to check for rain but found only a chilly, windless night. Minutes earlier, my mom had asked my dad to take her to the hospital.  “It’s time,” she said in a matter-of-fact voice and quickly got her overnight bag packed.  We all were excited about the birth of a baby brother or sister, and the time had arrived for her hour-long drive to the hospital in Honolulu. Dad nervously paced the floor as he waited for her to dress and pack. We could hear him reassuring her, “Don’t worry, mama, you’ll be okay.”  While we four kids watched anxiously, they left quietly in a faded green Dodge.

It was eight o’ clock at night, but I still felt wide wake with all the excitement going on. I decided to relax in bed, snuggle under warm blankets, and read a book until we receive some news from my dad. As soon as I got comfortable, thunder cracked above our roof, and the rain came down in buckets! Water drummed on the iron roof of our Quonset hut like a musician playing the xylophone with a steady loud rhythm. Suddenly, I felt a drop of water on my head! “No,” I said to myself, “it can’t be!” I couldn’t remember if we repaired our roof since we moved into our home two years ago. Because this was our first stormy winter in Nanakuli, we had no cause to check for roof leaks.

I leaped out of bed and ran to the kitchen for an empty pot to catch the drips from the ceiling. Lo and behold, two more leaks popped out, right above the bed! I decided to move the bed away from that area. As the rain continued, I ended up placing four pots around my bed to catch the drips.  Then I heard my brother Mel calling out for help in the living room. It was pouring rain in there and no pot could remedy the situation! My mind raced, “What to do, what to do?” We had run out of receptacles to catch the water. We even ran out of empty trashcans! I grabbed a broom near the back door and threw open the front door.  I started sweeping out water as fast as I could, all the while laughing at how ridiculous I must look. We all took turns sweeping water through the night until the rain diminished.  By two o’ clock in the morning, I decided to call it a night and went to bed in my damp clothes.

We awoke to discover our house surrounded by water. The storm had left enough water to cover the first three steps of our front porch. Dad returned home mid-morning and had to park the car at the top of the driveway near the highway.  Walking in three feet of water, he waded to the front porch in bare feet. We were so relieved to see him and exchanged reports about our night. He happily announced we had a new baby brother, and mom was coming home in a couple days. Today we still laugh when we recall that night in 1954 – the leaks, pots and pans, and the broom to battle the storm. Needless to say, I skipped school that day because who could wade in water crawling with who-knows-what? And wet my school clothes?


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