Lola’s POV: Life Lessons Learned Dealing With Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico

Ever hear the quote: “If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm?”  That’s basically my week in a nutshell, except the storm wasn’t the actual storm, but the aftermath it left behind

Lola Hurricane Irma

Photo: Courtesy of Lola Montilla

Ever hear the quote: “If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm?”  That’s basically my week in a nutshell, except the storm wasn’t the actual storm, but the aftermath it left behind.  This week I’ve learned a lot though and I feel the need to document it. In the spirit of this meteorological madness, I’ve decided to label these lessons by “category” as hurricane experts often do.

Category 1: No power.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, last week we reluctantly received hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico, and although we were not hit by the full wrath of the storm, and damages (in my case) were minimal, they are still an inconvenience – to put it mildly.  Over a week has passed A.I. (after Irma) and we still have no power at home. I am super grateful that’s my biggest hassle right now, because it could’ve been a lot worse. As for our sister islands, a large portion of people lost their homes, shops, cars, animals, and jobs. Puerto Ricans, showing their true colors, are currently gathering supplies and packages to send to these islands to help with the disaster.

Lola Hurricane Irma

Category 2: Full House

No power and no generator, means we needed to pack our things and go… all five of us: my mom, dad, two dogs, new kitten and myself.  I’ve been staying at my grandma’s house for over a week now, and every day there’s something new going on. For starters, the number of people staying at the house.  I might have lost track. It looked like a huge “fiesta familiar” in the living room at dinner time. And while I must say, the food’s been great, the company has been even better…

Category 3: What generation gap?

My week started off caring for my 96-year-old great-grandmother. I realized how every simple thing we do in form of habit can be so hard as you grow older. As I put on a piercing red lipstick on her lips, I began to tear up. Our day to day consumes us, and eats up our time to the point of no turning back, which is the scariest part. So, I sat down and we had a chat. It’s truly amazing how the human mind works. Alzheimers has gotten the best of her, so I did hear the same stories quite a few times, but after a while, she told me all her stories when she was just starting to date her late husband, my great-grandfather, and how even though he’s gone, and he’s waiting for her in heaven, she knows she loves him still. Oh, how times have changed… The morning after, I got to school and I cried. I cried because I noticed that nowadays we have such a distorted view on society and relationships and how what we call “goals” now, doesn’t come close to what real-life “relationship goals” are.

Category 4: Real-life “Chat Rooms”

As the week progressed I noticed that in these situations, you not only have to spend time with our family but you must learn how to share everything. Yes, everything. “Hello? Lola? ¡LOLA, ALGUIEN TE LLAMA!” “Si abuela, cuelga el teléfono, I’ve got it!” What? No mobile signal?  Having to use an actual phone, very retro I might add, means there are no private conversations without the fear in the back of your mind of someone picking up the other line, whether it’s your grandma, or your very jealous 9-year-old cousin.

As you face these “small inconveniences” little by little it gets even more frustrating, and you start getting on each other’s nerves.  First it’s the phone, then it’s my coffee, and then the comfort of waking up in the morning and having no one talk to you, gone and replaced by a kitchen full of relatives and uncalled for banter at 6 AM.

Lola Hurricane Irma

Category 5: Gratitude is the strongest of all forces.

It’s crazy, but I’m grateful. I have a family, we’re together. And although sometimes they might get on my very last nerve, I can’t say I don’t enjoy the chisme.

Be appreciative! These types of situations tend to bring out our true colors, so try to stay calm and share your cup of coffee. Irma, you got me now… But never again. The biggest storms in my life have only taught me that I’m stronger and wiser for having weathered them – blow-dried hair or not.

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