Counting blessings while raking limbs

Published 11:57 am Wednesday, September 1, 2021

By Jan Penton-Miller

Panolian Columnist

The air seems to be super charged when a tropical system enters the Gulf. We all go running from store to store to pick up the essentials, and this storm prep was no different from all the others. But the one thing that was looming at the back of everyone’s mind was the somewhat eerie realization that Ida would be making landfall 16 years to the day since Hurricane Katrina tore through South Mississippi and Louisiana.

As we prepared and prayed the images on the computer models looked like ugly twin sisters. We just wanted the latest one to go away, but instead she only intensified into a monster storm. Those of us who escaped from terrible damage almost feel survivor’s remorse when we see the pictures of the horrible destruction, which many of our friends and neighbors will be dealing with for a long time to come.

My power has been on for a little while so I only know that the devastation has been fierce and gut wrenching for many in the storm’s path, but I don’t truly know the extent. What I do know is the tenacity of the people from our neck of the woods. People will roll up their sleeves and get on with the business at hand.

Many will come from all over the country just as they always have to help and encourage those battered by the storm. Some of the toll is emotional, and it is just as real as those dealing with physical issues. We all need to take a breath and show some kindness in our actions and with our words because people are struggling.

I remember participating in a mission effort after Hurricane Katrina and wondering why in the world an able bodied man would need help fixing up his house when I saw how young and strong he was. Later on in the week I realized that he was simply overwhelmed by the enormity of everything he was having to deal with. The little bit of help our team offered encouraged him so that he had the will to finish the job himself. Sometimes a little help goes a long way.

Today Mike and I worked in the yard raking and picking up limbs and debris until the backyard looked less of a mess. We still had work to do, but it looked much better by the time we decided to go in and clean up. Just as I jumped out of a cold shower the power flickered and came back on! What a blessing! A little Chinese restaurant was one of the few businesses open around town so we decided to pick up something for dinner.

I sat in the garage on the patio furniture, which had yet to go back to its pre-storm spot. While watching the light rain falling I looked heavenward and began to count my blessings. A loving family, hot water, a roof over my head, and a hot meal were at the top of my list.