Friday, 29 April 2011

A Moment of Bama Talk

In the last day or two....I read and heard a fair bit on the tornado damage in Bama.  To be honest, it's a fair number of folks who died there in the state or lost their house and possessions.

From my home town area....most folks suffered wind damage.  A bit further over....over in Phil Campbell....a small town of 1,000 folks....twenty-six folks died.  Most of what was in this town....exists no more. The town's mayor, Jerry Mays, stood up and tried to give an honest opinion: "We've lost everything. Let's just say it like it is.  I'm afraid we might have some suicides because of this."

I paused over this.  Folks from Bama are a bit unique.  I grew up there and always noted that.

If a guy came out of the mess and then faced his house gone and such massive damage....he'd be hard-pressed to say much of anything.  Shock would be the only thing that you could take from his expression.  There'd be some heavy emotions over neighbors, relatives or friends gone.  You'd walk around the neighborhood.....assess what trees still stand, and how some cars came to be out in a field.

Along about nightfall, somebody would drive by and stop.  It'd be a buddy from high school twenty years ago....a cousin....some Sunday school teacher you knew when you were twelve....and they'd ask about your situation.  The next thing you know.....they've offered up supper and a bed.  You'd find the wife and then climb into the vehicle.  An hour later, you'd be at a table with prayers being said over folks who didn't make it.  You'd have a fair amount of supper and maybe get offered a shot or two of some whiskey to help you fall asleep.

Morning would come.

By nine, your friend would be answering the phone and suddenly twelve other folks were offering up help. Some cousin had a garage for you to store valuables left from the house.  Some buddy offered up their pick-up to haul stuff.  Some guy you barely know from the gas station offered an old dump truck to haul stuff from your property.  By nightfall, someone from your church calls up and offers their trailer RV for a eternity, if necessary, for you and the wife to temporarily live independently.

A week would pass.  Folks would have been buried by now.  Your prospective on life is a bit challenged but you kinda realized that you survived and were lucky.  Houses can be rebuilt and lives can be assessed as challenged but acceptable.

Two weeks will pass.  The church stands up and gives you a $500 gift card to buy clothing.  Some guy you knew from work ten years ago calls up and offers himself and a dozen other folks as all-day help to clean up the mess of destruction on your property.  Backhoe included.

A month will pass.  There are reluctant feelings that you just accept change and try to forget what happened.

Eventually, football season will come and somehow, you find some normalcy.  Thanksgiving will come and you share a meal with relatives at their place.  You thank everyone for their thoughts and kindness.

My own feeling is that the mayor of Phil Campbell was a bit overcome with emotion when he suggested that people will have suicidal feelings.  The truth is.....folks from around Bama have faced hardships, woes,  and sorrows.  They aren't the type to give in. They just aren't the folks who accept an end situation gracefully.

Some folks will be challenged by this mess.  In the end, I suspect all will come to admit that the greatest thing about Bama.....are the friends and neighbors who live there with you.  And maybe that's what matters the most in life.