The definition of helplessness: On your way to Lincoln, Neb., when a tornado rips through Wayne, Neb.

On Oct. 4, my wife, daughter and I were heading to Lincoln for a concert.

My son, Alek, was working in Wayne.

We were listening to the radio when we heard there was a tornado approaching Wayne, and was expected to touch down.

Phone calls did not go through, but we did get a text from him that he and his co-workers were in a cooler and that the storm was really loud.

That was it.

At that point, we did not know that the tornado hit the east side of town or how widespread it was. The grocery store Alek was working at is on the west side.

Added to the worry was even though Claire was with us, and her boyfriend was in Columbus, was whether their apartment or Trevor's vehicle would be spared.

My wife's sister also has a child attending Wayne State College. Fortunately, we learned early she had taken shelter and was OK.

For a time, we had no idea how Alek was doing.

With no way to contact him because the storm had knocked out cell phone towers, we did what we could.

I tried calling the newspaper in Wayne. No answer.

Claire sent a text to Alek's girlfriend, who had no more information than we did.

I checked the website of a local radio station. Nothing had been updated.

I called one of Alek's former baseball coaches, a graduate of WSC, who still has ties there, and that's when we started to get some small relief. He made calls and found out the storm was on the east side of town.

Finally, we got a text from Alek's girlfriend. He was safe, the store was safe, and they were back to work.

Not good enough for me. I called the grocery store and talked to Alek.

That's the best his voice has ever sounded to me.

As usual for Alek, he downplayed the whole thing.

It would still take until the next day before Claire and Trevor could breathe a sigh of relief. The apartment and car were OK.

They headed back to college Sunday, and Claire said the devastation is so much worse when you see it with your own eyes.

Thankfully, there were no fatalities, but for those injured and those who lost their homes and businesses, we can only say Godspeed, and we are praying for you.

WSC is a college that a lot of local kids attend, so a lot of people know someone who was touched by this.

This time, we'll chalk this up to an experience. A worrisome time that ended with good news for our family.

We hope and pray this is the closest we have to come to a violent storm, but who knows?

Once we found out Alek was well, we could enjoy our evening.

It just goes to prove once again, life is unpredictable, so make the most of it and try to enjoy every moment.

It wasn't until we got to the Pinnacle Bank Arena that we could focus on something we had been looking forward to for months.

We settled into our seats, and before we knew it, the Eagles were on stage and we had that peaceful, easy feeling.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.