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October Rain

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In addition to being a Forbes contributor I am first and foremost a father of two amazing kids: Samantha & Josh.

I will not bore you with how great and amazing and smart and so on they are. And I only use the word "bore" in the context of I think EVERY kid is great and amazing and smart.

If you want to write about how your kids possess these abilities and more, by all means please do. Hell I may even do it myself at some point thereby breaking my own rule but for now... it's about October Rain.


October Rain

© 2004 Stephen P. Olenski

We are all conditioned at an early age on a varying and sometimes dizzying array of topics. We are conditioned to never trust strangers. We are conditioned to believe that if you do well and are good to people, you will one day make it to heaven. We are conditioned to love our mother and father; our brothers and sisters; our pets and perhaps our favorite foods. And if we are truly lucky; truly blessed; downright shined upon, we are also air-conditioned.

Okay, a little levity…sorry.

One additional item that we are conditioned upon, is the weather. Mother Nature and her oft-rambunctious children have a funny way of leaving their mark upon our psyche.

Snow conjures up, amongst many images — carefree days as a child spent frolicking playfully and Christmas and all the enjoyment that goes along with that time of the year. Generally speaking, the thought of snow has a relatively positive connotation.

However, for whatever the reason, our initial thought processes regarding water falling in drops condensed from vapor in the atmosphere otherwise hereto for known as rain is to equate this natural phenomenon with gloom and unhappiness and an overall sense of the blues. As children we associate rain with one undeniable, irrefutable and unmistakable truth:

We are not allowed outside to play!

Mother Nature

As we get older of course, we learn that rain is not always necessarily a bad thing. We are educated on the ways of nature and how our mother from time to time must feed her children.

As adults we are further schooled on the intricacies and previously hidden meanings and nuances of these tears from above.

There’s a line from a song that reads: “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.”

Obviously this little bit of hind-sighted, retroactive insight can be applied to a myriad of subjects — but in terms of rain, if we knew of rain’s alter ego as children, perhaps this would have helped lessen the indignation we felt towards the heavens whenever it had the audacity to rain upon our proverbial parade.

But alas this is not the case and it is not until we are older, wiser and more experienced that we can genuinely appreciate the subtleties of rain.

To paraphrase a great American, there all kinds of rain: “Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flies in sideways. And rain that seems to come straight up from underneath.”



To build upon Mr. Gump’s words of wisdom, there are additional varieties of rain — some with their own distinct significance and meaning. Often times however, the hidden message which accompanies such rains, is not readily apparent to those it falls upon or is simply lost on misguided or preoccupied souls.

One such unique and meaningful rain fell upon me on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 20th in the year 1999. That particular day started out in a somewhat less than typical fashion as my wife Terri, already ten days late with our first child, awakened me at the ripe hour of 4:30AM. She was having contractions and insisted — make that demanded, I join in on the fun.

The Time Is Now

After speaking with her doctor and timing the contractions accordingly, we left for the hospital around 7:00AM.

The weather: sunny, warm, especially for this time of the year — literally not a cloud in the sky. An absolutely glorious day to be sure.

After getting checked in and getting settled, we assumed the parents-to-be position.

My wife in a bed with yours truly right beside her on an unusually-comfortable-hospital-provided-expectant-father-chair.

Approximately four hours into our journey, my wife decided she had had enough and was now ready for essentially any pharmaceutical she could get her hands on. After receiving an epidural, she was ready to relax and wait.

To aid in her relaxation, she asked that some music be played via the CD player we brought with us from our home.

So, as the one playing the supporting role in this ever-changing melodrama, I proceeded to make the necessary arrangements. Got the CD of choice out its case, placed it in the player, hit the necessary functionality feature and…nothing.

Not a sound. Not a peep. Nothing.

Batteries Not Included

Much like my wife, the batteries were in their own anesthetized-state. The difference being that unlike my wife, they would not be coming out of their current condition any time in the foreseeable future.

Like some sort of superhero, I immediately processed the information through my brain as to where I could obtain batteries in the least amount of time and quickly devised a scheme to achieve the desired outcome.

‘I got it!’

‘The gift shop in the Lobby!’

Off I went.

As luck would have it, they were out of D-Size batteries, the kind I needed to rectify the situation.

‘Okay, Plan B.’

‘The drug store down the street.’

‘But my car keys are upstairs in the room.’

‘A little exercise never hurt anyone and time is of the essence.’

So off I went, again.

I was not twenty feet out the front door of the hospital when my very own epiphany-inspired rain began to fall.

From out of the blue…sky, the rain fell as the skies instantaneously turned dark and threatening and the temperature inexplicably plummeted.



Unanswered Questions

Running as if someone’s life depended on it, the un-timeliness of this rain and change in the weather crossed my mind. And even though I am a firm believer in the adage everything happens for a reason, I decided I needed answers to some questions.

‘Why are you doing this to me, God?’
‘Why is it raining now?’
‘Why was the gift shop out of D-Batteries?’
‘Why does this particular CD Player use D-Batteries?’

Arriving at the drug store and looking as if I just went through a car wash without the car, I located the section of the store that housed batteries, made my purchase, exited the store and returned to full gallop.

I immediately returned to the engaging conversation I was having with myself and the rhetorical questions I was posing to God.

‘Why didn’t I go back for my car keys and drive to the drug store?’
‘Why didn’t I bring the electrical cord for the CD Player with us as a backup in the event of battery failure?’
‘What types of medication are on the market to help someone like myself who holds conversations with themselves and can I get some when I get back to the hospital?’

Halfway back to the hospital I realized there must be a reason. There must be a reason why on this day of all days did the weather pull an abrupt about-face at virtually the exact same moment I began my jaunt to the store, leaving me essentially at the mercy of the cold and damp conditions.

I never once thought it was some kind of omen or sign that something horrible was going to happen to my wife or child. Those kind of morbid thoughts simply never entered my head.

But what was the reason?

‘Why is it raining NOW?’

Then came the epiphany. The reason behind this natural phenomenon.

God was testing me.

This realization instantly lessened the child-like indignation I was feeling towards my maker.

I realized the rain that was falling was his way of challenging me. I could have easily turned right around at the very first drop and my wife would have understood completely. She didn’t even know of my journey for as far as she knew I was going to the gift shop.

But he knew, as did I, that the batteries — materialistic as they may be, were a vital component to my wife’s being relaxed and at peace until he decided it was time.

God tests each and every one of us in many different ways.

On this day mine just happened to come in drops condensed from vapor in the atmosphere otherwise heretofore known as rain.

October Rain.

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