An earthquake (too) close to home

Chileans comforting one another

I was awoken at around 3 a.m. last Saturday by a call from my nephew, Adam. “There was an earthquake in Chile,” he said frantically. His parents (my sister and brother in law) were in Santiago for the start of a month-long cruise around South America. They had arrived in Chile that day.

“It’s all over the Internet. It was an 8.8,” Adam said, panic in his 32-year-old voice.

I ran to look at the itinerary Shelley and Rusty had studiously left with me to find their hotel name and number. I also started perusing all the stories I could find about the location of the quake in relation to Santiago. Details were sketchy and their were no TV reports. Not a single one.

After fumbling around to determine the city and country codes, I dialed the hotel. The phone range incessantly. Adam remained on the other end, mumbling about tsunamis.  I kept reassuring him that everything was going to be fine.

“The power is obviously down,” I told Adam, “but I’ll keep trying.”  I called and called. Finally, a man answered.

“Is everything OK?” I asked.

“We just got the power back on,” he said.

I gave him my sister’s name and asked if he could ring their room.  Just as he repeated their names, the phone went dead.

Adam and I sent texts to each other for the next two hours, while we both kept up with half-baked news reports. When I heard on Fox that a 60-year old woman was killed, I morbidly thought it was Shelley. We had just celebrated her birthday. Our FOF minds work in mysterious ways.

I must have called the hotel 80 more times and continually reassured Adam that his father would call as soon as he could.

Finally, the call came. Rusty told his son they were fine and everyone at the small hotel (30 rooms) had banded together. “There was no panic,” he reported. “A loud, thunderous sound woke me, and the bed began to shake,” Shelley e-mailed. “I woke Rusty and he thought it was a major thunderstorm. I said it must be an earthquake (doesn’t every FOF sister just know what an earthquake feels like?) The horrendous loud noises, dogs barking in the street, lamps crashing to the floors, the bed moving, and car sirens blasting, were followed by an eerie silence for about a minute. The earthquake lasted about 90 seconds.”

Shelley also said her bed “hasn’t moved like that for the past 30 years.” Isn’t it just like a FOF woman to pick herself up, dust herself off and find the humor, even when the earth is moving beneath her?

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0 Responses to “An earthquake (too) close to home”

  1. Leigh Chandler says:

    Geri, So sorry that you and your loved ones had to go through that! It happened to me with the San Francisco quake, as I knew my sister in law took that bridge that collapsed everyday. It is nerve wracking until you finally hear. I am so glad that they were all safe!

    XO Leigh

  2. Geri says:

    Hi Toby

    I never heard the expression ‘belt and suspenders.’ Love it. It became less horrifying when we learned they were 200 miles from the epicenter, but until we heard from them, it was pretty tense. Thanks for your thoughts.


  3. Toby Wollin says:

    One of the things everyone at my house shakes their heads about is my tendency to ‘belt and suspenders’ everything. I cannot imagine what you folks went through with this — just horrifying. So happy to hear that people are safe.

  4. Susan says:

    Yes, it is like an FOF (or even younger if they’re a pistol) to find some humor. Sometimes I’ve been accused of going too far…but those people, they’ve not been where I’ve been. You find yourself thinking the nuttiest stuff & it keeps you going. I am so glad they’re all right, Geri.

    • Geri says:

      Thank you Susan.


  5. Geri says:

    Hi Sweetheart,

    they supposedly left today.

    oxo Geri

  6. gail says:

    we were wondering at work IS 24 if shelly was in chile at the time of the earthquake. glad to hear that all is well with them, did they leave chile yet for the cruise? our best to shelley and rusty


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