An emotional time for one reader

Published 2:32 am Wednesday, September 29, 2004

By Staff
I cried.
I've told anyone who would listen during the past 10-12 days my story. For those of you I have not come in contact with, I want you to know it too!
Early on Wednesday morning, two weeks ago now, I arose from my bed and made my way to the front door of my home. When I opened the door and stepped onto the front porch, the wind came rushing at me with the force of which I had never experienced. Being about three hours after Ivan came through town, I was surprised by the rushing winds. When I stepped to the corner of my home, holding on to the porch railing I leaned over to see two large trees uprooted and lying in the middle of Ridge Road, I cried.
I thanked God that he had saved my life and the lives of the family sleeping inside.
I made a survey at the other end of my house. No trees on my car, no trees on my husband's truck, but there were countless trees on the ground surrounding my sheds, carport, and across the yard. I cried as I thanked God again that my "stuff" had been spared.
A couple of hours passed. And, yes, I cried again. Chuck Bounds, the pastor of Ridge Road Baptist Church near my home and Todd Williamson followed by a few brave young men, were making their way down the tree-strewn road cutting a way with chain saws and an array of other equipment. The stinging mist of rain and a strong wind led them on their way. At this point, my husband joined the crew. I cried again, thankful that I was married to a man who cared to help where he could.
The hours passed, the winds died down and the sun began to shine. I cried.
Seeing devastation all round my two acres of land, led me to only imagine the destruction that was lying just beyond my vision. We worked. My mother, with her poor sight and arthritic back, raked like there was no tomorrow. My husband chopped limbs of downed trees and I gathered shingles that were ripped from their places on my roof. Funny, I cried then too. As the day progressed, we continued to clean and continued to be thankful for our safety. Being as tired as I can ever remember being, I lay down in my bed when darkness fell, and again, I cried.
Friday came along, just as scheduled. My mother, again raking her heart out, came to our bedroom just before 7 a.m. and said "They've got ice and water at the church - you need to get up there!" I did. I stood in line at the back of the truck and received the two large bags of ice that were handed to me by neighbors and friends. I was okay. I carried them back to the car and returned to get in line for water. As I approached the back of the truck and held out my waiting arms for that precious liquid, I cried.
This was my first realization that there are others who stand in line begging for life-giving substances every day throughout the world. I cried for me, I cried for them.
Later in the day we decided to venture out as far as we could. We drove about two miles from my home before getting to a point when my five-year-old made his first statement about the storm.
I cried. My son, for the first time in his life, was afraid of what he saw. Trees on homes, cars crushed by the mighty oak and not another moving vehicle in sight. For all he knew, we were the last people left on earth. It felt kind of like that to me as well. My son was facing a reality that I had hoped he would never have to see - fear in the face of destruction.
Late that day, as we were making the 100th or so bologna/ham sandwich, my mother mentioned our church. How many more days till church day was the question my son asked. And, you guessed it, I cried.
Seeing work crews who arrived in our city to lend a helping hand made me cry. I watched and listened as I heard of virtually hundreds of people who left their loved ones and nice, cozy homes to give their time and talents to help restore our town. Crews trimming away trees, stretching power lines, cooking hot meals, handing out ice, water and food packs, and the list goes on. As I stood in line with folks I didn't know, I realized that we were all the same - devastated, hungry, tired and scared. I cried for us all. My old friends and my new ones.
I cried when I went to Southern Pine Electric Cooperative last Friday. I spoke with a bedraggled Robbie Cotton. He said he hadn't seen his wife or children more than about 10 minutes or so during the nine days he'd been working. There was a cot in his office. I knew he was tired. I cried for my buddy. He was leading a throng of willing men. Making tough decisions. Restoring power to those who were without.
On Sunday night, I cried again. As I stood and talked with one of the crew members for C&L Electric Cooperative from Arkansas, I got weepy hearing of how they had been away from their homes and families for two weeks. John left a wife, a son and a daughter at home to help us. I was very thankful. As we talked a glow came from behind me - I had power at my house. I cried. I whooped. I hollered. These were tears of joy!
In just the few short days following that horrible storm last week, I had cried more than anyone could imagine.
A friend of mine told me one time "You are the weepiest person I know." She's right, I cry about and for any reason. But this time, I know I was not alone. When talking to others about their experiences through the storm and the days that followed, I see misty eyes and full-blown tears. Most of that moisture is followed by the statement "but thank God, we're alive and we are truly blessed."
Indeed we all are blessed. May we all cry tears of joy and tears of thankfulness as we get about the daily chore of living!