Home Works

We work at being at home; our home works for our family. We are regular; regular seems rare. I try to look at the stars like my mother does each night -- proof we are all under the same sky.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Where to Start?

I wobble between survivor's guilt, gratefulness, inability to help, desire to help, and the somewhat-assurance of soccer practice, piano lessons, and karate. As long as the gas supply in Northwest Mississippi holds a bit.

Our family is so incredibly fine. Our home is so undamaged. Our power is back on, and we have some storm clean-up to do in the yard. Minor. Minor. Minor.

I try to make connections for folks, by email, cell phone, telephone calls. Homeschoolers who want to help homeschoolers, people who offer their homes, foundations that I know are reliable so I can tell people to give there. I call local hotels, who say, indeed, there are people out of money. I send the hotel phone numbers to people who have asked how they can help. It's a short-term, emergency solution. No one thinks that providing money for one night for one family for one hotel room is going to solve anything. But it gives one family twenty-four more hours to connect with other family members, to find friends, to assess damage, to make plans. It is not enough. It is something.

Isaac's family in Ecuador was worried. When you hear about the devastation in "Mississippi, USA" from South America, you can only believe that your son is in harm's way. I emailed his brother before the storm, saying we are going to pay attention, but we think we're out of the main path of Hurricane Katrina. The next morning, no power, so I called and left a message -- We're okay. Later, when power came back, I sent some details by email. Still, his brother called, understandably, and I explained that we had been careful, we were ready to move, but that we were truly safe, and we had been safe. Isaac and I come to the Spanish phrase Nosotros somos precavidos. We are cautious. We agree that this makes us a good match for his family. Padres de Isaac son precavidos tambien. Isaac's parents are also cautious.

My sense is that none of mis hijos understands the gravity of what has happened. I tell the stories I've heard, I share the emails, I show the newspaper headlines and articles, I show them photos on the internet, I get them to watch CNN -- in small doses. I explain, all day, I explain. They hear me making phone calls, trying to put people together, trying to tell folks who want to help, don't go down there unless you have enough gas to get back.

Our county has hundreds of evacuees. Evacuees are north and south of us, scattered from the exit arms of the long body of Interstate 55 in churches and homes and hotels and rest stops and restaurants and Walmarts.

I did not lose anything in my freezer. I am fearful about the tenuousness of my country's port system, oil supply, refinery ability, emergency preparedness. I can make microwave popcorn. I sit up in bed -- having become the mother I saw on TV, separated from her hospitalized newborn. I can drive to soccer practice -- where the whole team will show up, every child with one or two parents on the sideline. I make phone calls. The voice on the other end of the line, on the other end of Mississippi, wavers. "Bleach," he says. "We need bleach, in half-gallon bottles, and we need a moped. Mosquito repellent, hand sanitizer, first aid supplies, paper towels, canned food."

He and the others in his church fed 50 people three days ago, 400 people the next day, 1000 people yesterday. How many will come today?

My boys eat cereal and have started their weekend chores. They want to finish early, to have the hard things behind them.

33 Comments:

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Blogger nika said...

This is so beautiful.. Your writing is lovely, it is very evocative.

Thank you for sharing!

I think homeschooling families have a certain skillset that ALLOWS them to reach out and do creative things like you are with the needs of others during this time.

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Blogger christinemm said...

Loved your post! You are doing a great job. I hope you can continue to feel the gratitude and that it takes away the feelings of what you called surviors guilt. It is great that you are helping out in the ways that you are able.

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Wow. Your post is very moving and I am so glad to hear about everyone's efforts to help.

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Much of my family lives in Southern MS while we live in Northern Illinois. After more than a week we've now heard that everyone is safe. It was a long week, but I'd never say I had a hard week. I sat in air conditioning, drinking fresh brewed coffee, searching the internet for family and news. Words can't really describe it for those outside the range of the storm, can they?

You did such a great thing helping others connect. I should have done more too.

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