Weathering Life’s Storms


It was 10 years ago since the start of back-to-back blizzards left Maryland buried beneath more than 4 feet of snow. Two back-to-back, humongous blizzards rolled through. The first was the biggest. It started on the 5th of February, ended on the 6th, and dumped anywhere from 2 to 3 feet of snow. Days later, the next storm rolled in and within a five-day period in February, we had 50-55 inches of snow. It was dubbed “snowmageddon,” and the result was crippling.

Today, we Southern Marylanders received about 15 inches of heavy wet snow within a 12-hour period, again paralyzing people’s plans and activities. Trees fell, our electricity was off for eight hours and the battery on our generator was dead, motorists were left stranded, three or 4 people died in vehicular accidents, vehicles were buried, and routine emergency calls became challenging. These circumstances piled on to our world’s pandemics and civil unrest further increase our life’s high anxieties and stressors.

My ancestor, Sarah A. “Sadie” Grymes was born on May 14, 1900, in Bell, Kentucky. She was the second child of John and Margaret Grymes (related to my paternal great-great-grandmother, Margaret Mary Hershey “Molly” Grymes, wife of my paternal great-great-grandfather, William Frazier Taylor).

So, if you think the storms in our lives today are hard, let’s just look back on examples of turmoils and storms in Sarah’s life. First, you may have seen some of the next examples of historical facts posted on social media. The original author of the compilation is unknown. So, my spin on them is intended to bring us a grain of perspective into weathering the storms we face in our lives today.

  • World War I started when Sarah was 14 years old.
  • Sarah married a local man, five years her senior (Otto Barnett), at age 17. Together they had nine children, five boys, four girls.
  • By the time World War 1 ended in July, Sarah was 18 and during the course of the war, battles left 22 million people dead.
  • On March 4, 1918, the Spanish Flu epidemic hit the planet and endured until Sarah was 20. Fifty million people died from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.
  • When Sarah was 29, the Great Depression began. Unemployment hit 25%, global GDP dropped 27%. Sarah’s father died in the midst of the Great Depression that ended in 1933–and another four years of Sarah’s life were uneasy ones. The country nearly collapsed, along with the world’s economy.
  • Shortly after Sarah turned 39, World War II started (September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945). She wasn’t even considered “even over the hill,” yet.
  • At age 41, the United States fully pulled into WWII. Between her 39th and 45th birthdays, 75 million people perished in the war and the Holocaust killed six million.
  • At age 52, the Korean War started, and five million more people perished.
  • The year Sarah turned 55, was also the year the Vietnam War began (November 1, 1955 to the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975), During those nearly 20 years, 4 million people died in that conflict.
  • Five months after her 62nd birthday, came the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 16, 1962 – October 28, 1962), a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could well have ended. During those 13 days in October, leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union engaged in a tense, political and military standoff over the Soviets’ installation of nuclear-armed missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. The Soviets were given no option other than removing their missiles. Fortunately, the United States prevailed.
  • As Sarah turned 75, the Vietnam War finally ended.
  • Just think, in 1900 there were 76.2 million people in the United States. By the time Sarah reached 80, there were 226.5 million people living in America, and we were all survivors! Yet, children in 1988, still questioned why their 88-year-old grandparents couldn’t understood how difficult school was for them.
  • Sarah A Sadie Grymes died on February 16, 1988, in Pineville, Kentucky, when she was 87 years old (just three months shy of 88). And still, on the day of her death, we learned about the first documented combat action by US military advisors in El Salvador’s civil war.

Perspective is an amazing art. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Let’s be smart, help each other out, and we will get through all of this. In the history of the world, there has never been a storm that lasted. This, too, shall pass.

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