Our new home state is known as the "Lightning Capital of the World." I completely understand that nickname. It seems as though every afternoon (after the heat of the day has built to a crescendo) thunder heralds the start of another storm.

I have never been afraid of thunder and lightning storms. But, I had an aunt - Madaline (better known as Bal to the family) - who was terrified of them. She used to go inside her bathroom with her rosary beads and pray throughout the storm. Sometimes she took her "worry" beads with her, too - just to be ecumenical in case God was going to be impressed at that.

My mother (Bal's sister) was not afraid of storms. Neither was my dad. As a matter of fact, during Hurricane Hazel (which tore up the land in E. Pennsylvania and caused much damage), my intrepid father decided that he and I should take a walk outside to feel the storm's fury. He tied a rope around our waists, told me to stay close to him, and we stepped out our front door. The wind was so loud and the rain was so piercing that I couldn't hear a word he said.

We walked down West Broadway in knee-deep water. As we got to the end of our property line, I heard a ripping noise and watched as the roof from a nearby building flew off and sailed right over our heads. Dad grabbed me by the arm and yelled, "Let's go back home."

My mother (who had thought the trip outdoors during a hurricane was more than dumb) shook her head and handed us towels. She said, "Bob, you're lucky you weren't hurt." Dad had a little smile on his face when he responded, "That storm is nothing like the ones we used to have at the beach." Daddy grew up in Pawleys Island, SC and experienced quite a few Atlantic hurricanes in a beachfront house,

So, I guess you could say that storms don't scare me. I am respectful of their strength, but I don't cower in fear in the bathroom. I guess I'm a happy medium somewhere between my chicken Aunt Bal and my risk-taking Dad.

Recently, a lightning strike fried some of our home technology. We lost all our phones, a television set, and our computer. Sure, we had surge protectors, but not the super kind needed to combat Florida storms. Now we do. As a matter of fact, we also installed a 'total home' surge protector outside on our electrical service main. I assume that we'll be in good shape during any future storms.

When the lightning strike hit, it smacked right into the wires that ran beside my recliner in the living room. The bang nearly knocked me out of the chair. The wires to the outlet behind my chair were charred and bent. I shook for an hour after that experience. Am I more scared now? A little. When I hear thunder and see lightning, I move from my recliner over to the couch, which is in the center of the room and not near any wires or outlets.

As I was thinking of this column and writing about storms, I realized that life is full of storms - and not all of them are nature-made. A lot of storms are man-made.

We go through divorce, death, and sorrow caused by us and our fellow man. We travel through the storms of life hoping that a roof won't fall on our heads. But, as my father knew well, hiding in the bathroom won't make things better.

Sometimes we have to face our fears, tie a rope around our waists and plow smack dab into the storm.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM [1] OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.