Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roxy Music -- "Whirlwind" (1975)

Wildfire and driving rain
Wheels spin
Bowl me over hurricane
Ford Madox Ford's novel, The Good Soldier, famously begins with this line: "This is the saddest story I have ever heard."

Exactly one year ago today, an EF5 multiple-vortex tornado cut a mile-wide swath of destruction directly through the heart of Joplin, Missouri.  The tornado's official death toll is 160, and the death of each of those 160 victims is no doubt the saddest story that his or her family and friends have ever heard.

I know only a few of those stories, but one stands out for me -- the story of Will Norton and his father, Mark.  

President Obama went to Joplin yesterday to speak at the graduation of the Joplin High School class of 2012.  Graduation ceremonies for the class of 2011 had just been completed when the tornado struck last May 22.  One of the new graduates, Will Norton, was driving home shortly after getting his diploma when the storm's irresistible power snapped his seat belt and pulled him through the sunroof of his car.

Will Norton
His father, Mark, was severely injured.  He sustained 17 broken bones, a collapsed lung, and a dislocated shoulder.  The last injury resulted from Mark's desperate efforts to hold on to Will.  

But as strong as Mark's love for his son was -- and as powerful as his determination to protect him was -- the tornado was far stronger and even more determined.

The Norton family at a memorial service for Will
Paramedics used the "Jaws of Life" to free Mark from the mangled SUV, applied a tourniquet to his badly bleeding arm, and rushed him to a hospital.  He had no idea what happened to Will -- he just knew that his son had disappeared.

As Mark Norton lay broken in a crowded, chaotic operating room, Dr. Rex Peterson leaned in close to tell him the morphine supply was depleted and he was going to experience more pain than he’d ever known as the surgeon prepared to re-set the bones protruding from his left leg.
But it hardly compared to the even more exquisite pain a week later when Pastor Aaron Brown had to lean in again at Mark’s hospital bedside in the pre-dawn hours to tell him his son Will’s body had been positively identified after a frantic week of friends, family, strangers and search teams looking for the popular Joplin teenager who vanished into the twister.
If you're a father, what Mark Turner experienced a year ago today simply doesn't bear thinking about.

Against all odds, many Joplin fathers were spared the loss of a child that day.  Lydia McAllister, a member of the class of 2012 who graduated yesterday, lost her home but all her family members survived.

The McAllister family
Lydia learned something about her father last May 22 and in the year that followed: 

I’ll never forget how my dad has been our rock, patient and flexible while getting our lives back on track.  I can’t even put into words how much I admire him and how proud I am to have him as my dad.  

Any time I would wake up from a “tornado-mare,” as I like to call them, I think about the moments right after the storm hit, when we walked to the basement stairs only to see the mangled gray sky instead of our house.  My dad pulled us all in and promised us we’d be OK -- that he would make sure we’d be OK -- and instantly, my fear dissipates.

For a father, such words are "more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.  They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb."  (Psalm 19:10.)

Do you doubt for a moment that Will Norton would have said similar words to his father if he had somehow been able to summon the superhuman strength that would have been required to save Will from the tornado?    

Here's "Whirlwind," from Roxy Music's 1975 album, Siren:

Click below if you'd like to order the song from Amazon:

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