Megan Tilk: When it rains on your parade

Megan Tilk

Nothing brings out the true colors of family more than an entire weekend of togetherness.

As typical, Midwest thunderstorms fell over southwest Iowa on the day of my kid brother's graduation reception, and the women of my family sprang into action.

Communicating solely with what I believe to be a form of ESP that only women understand, Mom raced to rescue the tables and chairs with Dad in tow. Grandma made a run to the nearest dollar store for additional supplies while I quickly got to bossing around my other half. He's so handy, sometimes.

With just hours remaining before the start of the party, the clan came to a heartbreaking consensus that the rental tent set up in the back yard would need to be moved. After all, we didn't want Great-Grandma trudging through what was now a swamp to get to the pasta bar.

So, after a call for reinforcements, a break in the weather and with the six family members present at the time, we each grabbed a support pole of the miniature circus tent. While the family dogs found it fun to dodge in and out of plastic flaps, we marched in unison the way troops do after receiving orders.

Guiding the large white marquee around the lilacs and between the dog kennels, making sure Grandma didn't step in the rabbit hole, the men of the family "steered the bus" through the flower bed to the front of the house. Guess that's what we get for letting the men drive.

My brother's friend was left nearly decapitated by a large bush, and someone smelled of dog doo as we collectively released our grip. The yard party that my mother had spent weeks weeding, planting and planning for would now be a garage party. Darn rain, anyway.

We each had our own idea as to how the tent should be stationed near the garage entrance, and the first of many family feuds ensued. With raindrops beginning to fall, once again, the eight of us grabbed a pole and turned the tent lengthwise, then widthwise and back again.

Dad eventually won the battle, and the support cables were staked in place just as a clap of thunder crackled overhead.

Being the master of streamers of the family, I began twisting the colored tissue while my other half used his height to secure them to the garage ceiling. Within the hour, the streamers nearly touched the ground, damp with the lingering humidity. Darn rain, anyway.

Inside, my mother's friends took charge of the food. Giant pots of alfredo and marinara sauce bubbled on the stove while garlic bread nearly caught fire in the oven. Grandma handed over the tongs and waved her white flag, retreating to the garage.

With just an hour to spare, Dad and the brother fought over the single shower while my other half cracked open his first beer. Guess he'd earned that one after two days with my family.

Megan Tilk is a reporter and weekly columnist for the Mary­ville, Mo., Daily Forum. She can be reached at or follow her columns at