Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Plenty to be thankful for

Well it was about a year ago that our house flooded. In some ways that seems so long ago, and yet the time seems to have passed like stars outside the window of the Millennium Falcon. Time to take a moment to share with the world all the things we are thankful for, and this year we feel we have a LOT to be thankful for.

We have been busy re-feathering our nest. The summer tasks consisted mostly of outdoor projects: painting, wiring, plumbing, landscaping, brushing out the back forty. The pond has 'soaked up' a fair amount of time and money. We’ve also taken time to just enjoy being back home. On sunny evenings, after work on the patio with a cold drink and a magazine, we watched Chairman stalk crickets in the grass. A morning spin out the Southbank road to Elma for toast and coffee, or down to Bill and Beas in Centralia on the tandem for a Mom ‘n Pop burger lunch, and then the obligatory grind into the head wind to burn off the calories on the way back home.

There is so much to be thankful for. Of course with the official Thanksgiving coming tomorrow, I am thankful to get to sit down to the table with a lovely group of lively interesting people for a meal. They’ll always be my kids but they are certainly not kids anymore. I’m thankful that they will take a special day from their busy lives to come and spend it with us.

Then there is you. Since December 4, 2007 you have repeatedly given us things to be thankful for:

On the morning of December 6, Misha, Cathi, Judi, and Monica became our Multi-Agency command – garnering troops to (1) tear-apart and clean-up our house, (2) provide us with meals for the first week, and (3) wash our floodwater-filled, filthy clothes, curtains, and linens. We can never thank them enough for this coordination as it left our minds free to focus on clean-up efforts.

Dennie, you are a God-send! You called me on that second morning, out of the blue some six years after we last worked together, as we were en route to start the enormous clean-up task and had no idea of where we were going to live. You offered us a house to live in --no strings attached, no time frames, no preconditions; “Don’t worry, we can work out the details later.” Little did you or we know that we would be living there for four months!

Shayna and Tim not only donated a sofa so we had something to sit on in the house, but they delivered it, as well!

Fifteen minutes after Mrs. C. saw the damage for the first time, two Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crew bosses and their crews showed up and began moving ALL our furniture out of the house, safely storing it in the shop. They then went to work on the carpet, and room by room they removed all of our sopping wet, muddy, slimy 1200 sq ft of wall to wall carpet, and then all the sopping wet carpet pad. Lemay dropped a dumpster just beside our driveway and the crews tossed all the carpet, pad, and ruined furniture into it with help from the Dan the City public works guy driving his backhoe. This work would have taken at least 2 months if just Mrs. C and I had done it ourselves, non-stop.

Our neighbors, though recovering from the same disaster, took it upon themselves to loan each other equipment, electricity, and water; and to prepare meals for each other and the WCC crews. Because of this event, we know our neighbors so much better and now call them our friends.

Bill, Bob, Brian, Bruce, Cathi, Dave, Monica, and Ski - you came on short notice and helped us begin the process of gutting out the house. And Tuana showed up to feed the entire crew in the afternoon! It was extremely unpleasant work. But you cheerily went at the walls, floors, doors, cabinets, everything that had been ruined. You carted, hauled and dragged out load, after load, after load of sheet rock, insulation, cabinets, doors, and flooring. You power-washed the entire house and driveway even though some of you were very sick, yourselves. Really the unpleasantness of the task is dwarfed by how much work you all did. I thought to myself, it would have taken us months and months to do what you did in a weekend, incredible.

Misha, Colleen, Karen, and Tammy were the angels that washed our mounds of dirty, muddy laundry, from socks to curtains and everything in between. The neat, clean stacks of folded laundry were another reminder that we would get home again and that things would get back to normal some day. You placed it all in large rubber bins.

Koni, Tuana, Laura, and Tammy made meals for us while we were between places. Home cooked food is a great gift. There is the obvious act of giving in time of need but then, I suspect home cooked food appeals to a subconscious sense of comfort. It’s the reason you cook when you have people over, instead of ordering take out. The fact it is made in love does not hurt.

Agnieszka, Tammy, and Shana had us over for dinner and even for Christmas dinner with the rest of the family. Food is one thing but the warmth of human companionship means so much more. The sense that we are not alone, that we have friends and that they care about us and want to help us in time of need is one of the most important things I have learned from this ordeal. In my time in Louisiana after Katrina and Rita I saw this, but it is the difference between night and day when it is personal.

Jon took us out to dinner that first week to one of Mrs. C’s favorite places and over a meal helped us escape the enormity of the challenges we faced. Joanne, Aaron, Colleen, Gary, and the folks from the Mt. Vernon office gave us gift cards to eat at our other favorite restaurants. This was such a great diversion and enabled us to eat and get back to work at the house in short order.

We stayed in a motel for a week and after we checked out I got a call from them saying that an anonymous donor had paid the bill. That was an incredible gift you gave us. Not only was it a LOT of money but it was so uplifting at a particularly down time.

Dale, Craig, Debbie, Dennis, Travis, and Tyler, you gave us gift cards for groceries and things to help us fix the house. This is how we acquired 20 large rubber totes to store all our belongings in the shop while the house was being raised and repaired. We found out from the flood that these totes are water/mud proof and they float!!

Our co-workers, both Mrs. C’s and mine, took up a collection and gave us money. Max, Shirley, Karen, Greg, Kara, Grace, Grant, Eva, Dale, Elma, and Sonya also gave us money. It all went to replacing items lost in the flood, as well as dinners out. Early on we were fairly sure that we would have the resources to raise and rebuild the structure of the house, but the things that make a house a home we were not so sure about. Because of you, we feel more at home now than we did before the flood. Again the gift is greatly appreciated but perhaps the giving even more so.

Chapin and Agnieszka you provided beautiful designs for our new entry and helped us to start looking forward to the finished product. You also provided stacks of Consumer Reports to help us make the best buying decisions with our meager resources.

Steve and Dave took Chapin’s design and made it reality. None of the reconstruction would have been possible without them. Dave showed up on December 6 and “volunteered” to take us on as a client. Both of you have the patience of Job. Thanks for putting up with our fickle decisions and for seeing the project through to the end. We appreciate the quality and care you took every time we enter our home.

And last but not least, we received so many prayers and thoughts that sustained us along the way and helped us see the light at the end of the tunnel. God is so good.

When we consider all the blessings we’ve received as a result of the flood (material and emotional), it makes us see the bright side of this tragedy. That bright side is you!

So, sure, we are thankful, very much so, for all that has been given to us, and for all of you great friends.

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