As my fiance pointed out last night, lots of things happen around my birthday. Princess Diana died the day after my birthday in 1997. My father died the day before my birthday in 2008. He had major surgery ten years earlier and was in ICU on my birthday in 1998. Michael Jackson was born the day before me in 1958. And if you google Aug 30, you will see that St. Sixtus II began his reign as pope in the year 257.
But the event that I am most reminded of this year, as Irene comes to visit, is a storm that went through Rockville Centre, NY on Aug 27 1966, when I was eight years old. We called it a twister, but I don't know if it was a tornado or a microburst or just a whole bunch of wind. I remember the rain and our awning filled to the bursting point with so much water.
The real tragedy of that day was the power outage. It went on for three days and we had to throw out the ice cream that was awaiting my birthday party. I was inconsolable, as everyone knew an outdoor birthday party in the summer had to have ice cream. Even though I saw the big oak tree that had blown down into the Dautels house and the trees laying across Windsor Avenue, just a block from our house, I was focused on my loss as my birthday arrived and the power was still out.
My mother tried her best to cheer me up and I recall some harsh words about gratitude and making the best of it. In the end, I think the party was a success. And the power came back on at 5PM that evening, just as the last of the guests was leaving. I felt my anger return and got my first life lesson in irony.
So as Irene approaches and I prepare the house with canned goods and candles, as I worry about the garage flooding and the tree limbs in the woods behind my house becoming projectiles, I remember the tragedy of the missing ice cream forty-five years ago. I plan to consume all the ice cream in our freezer tonight for dinner, just to make up for it.