Archive for November, 2012

Day Of Thanks Giving-2012

November 22, 2012

Dear Earth Angels, for that is who you are,

As this day of thanks giving dawns on the flood ravaged, near unrecognizable place I’ve known and called hometown for over 30 plus years…as the sea is now calm and the sun shines oddly, almost affrontingly, bright on the wreckage of the beloved home which sheltered my children and me and on the many whose homes and livelihoods are equally injured or swept away,  I want to let you know how thankful we are for you…for the light of your loving energy and your prayers which covered us through the storm and continue in the aftermath; for your caring and care packages which sustained us and the many with whom we shared and still do; for the batteries of your loving support; for your light which shines in a dark time and reminds us, as we are hip deep in mold, muck and mire; digging out from under mountains of sand splintered lives, that, as I’ve said for years, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a freight train.”

You, of the generous heart and loving spirit answered the call and  reaffirm this for me.  And your very knowing and holding the light of this truth beyond our present ken, supports us all; reaffirms our faith when it falters in the face of fearsome forces and multi-layers of more than mere survival.  

We the communities; the families who are digging out from the devastation of hurricane sandy, face not only wading through the wreckage of our homes and communities; trying to salvage what shreds we can of our former lives; our family’s heritage, but also going through a grieving process that runs the 5 stages and round that circle again and again while dealing with insurance webs, financial finagling and fear in the face of home invasions of the human kind; all while trying to find ways to stay alive, warm,upright while exhaustedly asleep on one’s feet from almost a month of nonstop dawn to dark backbreaking, mind-bending work, and staving off illness in conditions which are barely getting back to anywhere near normal.

As I write this, my dear Tom, who has been an olympian at my side; doing yeoman’s work; lending me the physical strength of lifting what I cannot and bearing up beyond human expectation or experience; being a partner par excellancé, is sleeping-in past the now customary 4 or 5 a.m.  He is finally getting much needed rest.

I am grateful for this respite (and internet connection-which has been spotty to nil for most of this ordeal) of quiet when I can come online, write and give him the silence for sleep which he so desperately needs.  

I am thankful for this apartment in a building near my house which needs so much surgery.  I was grateful for obtaining another roof over our heads upon learning that my home was uninhabitable after being underwater…grateful even in the face of no power. sewer, water and a daily double set of stairs climb to what i now call, ‘Mt. 6 Manjaro.’  

As I write,  I’m even more grateful, that the building now has power, light, heat, sewer and water.  At this time, ability to flush a toilet ranks high on my gratitude list….followed by hot showers…then, after freezing nights wrapped like many layered burritos in sleeping bags on the floor, big hooray for heat!!

I’m thankful for the overwhelming coming together of people; neighbors who slog side by side each day, sharing info, survival tips, laughter, irony and their stories.  More ‘Big G’ is given for the kindness shown by strangers, the  P.B. and J’s made by teens, handing them out on to all of us who lost everything, now standing on line at the ice arena turned into a place where people might obtain necessities like soap, toothpaste, a blanket, a warm sweater or coat…all donated by people we’ll never know.
The hugs that come out of nowhere because someone senses and feels your pain before it is spoken and wants you to know they care shock and awe.
I still have moments in the day when I dream of those sandwiches.  I can inhale the memory of the sweetness of the peanut butter and grape jelly infused with unconditional love.  I don’t think I will ever eat another choke and slide without smiling inside-out and thinking of, and thanking, those kids who are now part of my cellular being with their bright energy and creative, complete caring.  In the face of overwhelming need, they didn’t think ‘I’m only one person what can I do.’  They just put bread together and showed up to do what they could and it was good.
I’m grateful for the fire department who showed up stat when the wet wiring in my house walls started smoking.  They saved the place from burning to the ground, in addition to being flooded!
And am so thankful for police officer, Janet, who looked at the two of us in our masks and dirt laden clothes and sneakers and told us to go to the M.A.S.H. unit, which had erected tents on the ball field, and get our tetanus shots updated.  I’m grateful we listened and went because the first day of house rip out, I accidentally stepped on a nail–mercifully not more than a pinch deep.
And am thankful further for the volunteers in those tents, which look exactly like the T.V. show, because I did need treatment and medication for health complications stemming from the lack of healthy environment.
I’m grateful for shelter given, us upon mandatory evacuation, during the storm at my son Chris and his wife, Hope’s, 4th floor apartment., where we watched all through the night as waves broke the seawalls, inundating everything in their path; transformers explode ghoulish green and winds of up to 100 mph whip raging fires out of control in cars, homes and whole neighborhoods.  
You may notice that when I reference this hurricane, I cannot yet give her any capital letters.  The wounds are still too fresh and painful.  There is too much present trauma and we are still in rounds of surgery….not yet in the recovery room, which will be filled to overflowing for many months to come… years for discharge from rehab and hospital.
For some it will be a hospice time.  It will take a long time to uncover all the side effects of this national disaster, which is what I recognize on the spirit level as “a gift in shitty wrapping paper.” 
More than the jetties on the shore, the good, the bad and the ugly of humanity is uncovered…consciousness laid bare and choices of reactions or responses available for every individual to answer Glinda’s question, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”
We are, in effect, blown hurricane-off-course; landed in an “Oz;” of our own.  Our deepest loss and grateful goal…home.  

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue

November 12, 2012

Today begins with gratitude for the sleeping bag which kept me warm through another very cold night on the floor and warm thoughts of this day being a good friend’s birthday.

Each day since the hurricane hit with the wallop of a wrathful giantess, is filled with contrasts like this.

Yesterday, in bitter winds, we could only work for minutes instead of hours; trying to salvage and clear out the debris at the house. After locking the proverbial barn door and driving away, I see in my rear view an unfamiliar car go past and stop at of what’s left of my front doorstep. Turning this one surviving car of two around, we find it is a surprise visit from the FEMA inspector…one of three adjusters needed to move forward into the healing phase of this disaster.

He says he has been calling for days and always getting a busy signal, hence the ‘just showing up.’  Later we find that he has been calling the house phone which is now underwater.

It turns out that Wally is from Tennessee, plays bass and has a wife who is a singer/songwriter much as myself.  Go know how these common threads are woven music in the cacaphony of this aftermath chaos.

When we finish with the inspection; having been fortunate to only spend an hour and a half or so on line at the closest gas station, there is now enough fuel to hot-foot it to my son’s place several towns away for a much needed hot shower.  He has just gotten his electricity back on in the middle of the night.

It is like this in each day…part death/part resurrection.  Positive surprises appear from buried beneath the rubble of what was once haven.

Masked, as we muck out sea slime, sand and mold, little treasures present themselves, usually at my brink of breaking down.

In the middle of a putrid pile of rotting raiments thrown out of wardrobes to a watery carpeted grave, I spy a small patch of yellow ochre…an envelope, addressed to my dear Tom in my mother’s flowery, handwritten script.

Gingerly, I slip the barely held together wet message holder out from under and open it ever so carefully.

Inside is a note, saying, “I know your party for Florence’s 60th birthday will be a wonderful surprise.  For the photo board you are planning to present, here are some pictures of her when she was a little girl,” and out fall a handfull of images from my childhood…not a drop of water on any of them!

In another room, filled with piles of paper flipped out of filing cabinets, a single sheet bearing the poem paying honor to my brother, Owen, at his passing, slips forth with words not only my own imprinted there…but the cherishment for him from those who loved him, still do and always will.

In the corner of a dresser drawer, filled with seawater, I spy a glint of gold in the depths and fish out a small, 24 karat locket and chain my mother used to wear.  I always thought there were pics of my sister and I within.  I open it delicately to find her Mom and Dad, my grandparents, smiling up at me; pretty and handsomely youthful; two immigrants who came to America to make new lives; finding each other and raising their first-generation family in challenging NY’s Hell’s Kitchen.

There they are, these two…so dear to my mom, reminding me what is most important..that one can lose all possessions yet still posses the timeless treasure of unconditional love.

The ocean roared, in wrecking the world as we knew it; wiping out a populace, home and hearth, safety and normalcy.

No electricity, heat, plumbing, potable water, gasoline and as if that weren’t enough fun, in blows a frigid snow and ice storm for frosting on a mile high sand dune cake.

It is down to basic Neanderthal-feeling survival here.

Some people give in to fear, greed and negative actions while many of the tribe gathers round the one occasional emergency generator “fire,” like times gone by, to share stories, warmth of company and perhaps a tangerine, a bag of goldfish, a handfull of almonds, water or some little treat for the impromptu potluck while everyone gratefully and agreeably takes turns charging communications devices until the one hour allotted power goes out again.

Waves rose up, rolling over everything in their path, deluging homes, businesses, whole towns and roads.  Structures broke apart; the beautiful boardwalk is in splinters, some parts left resembling the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, while other sections are completely missing.

Boats, launched and lurched from their moorings; scattered across flooded main roads and up onto lawns; looking like giant garden planters.  Buildings and cars exploded in the night of walls of water and pouring-down, wind-driven torrential rains.

Firestorms raged in the high winds; blocks of houses and whole communities torched to their hulls.

From the 4th floor windows of my son’s apartment building to which we evacuated, we watched as red/orange flames rose sky high in the dark, like out of control forest fires.  Transformers blew up blossoms of green to go with…the presentation of a macabre Grucci Brother’s July 4th-like show.

And now that the ocean has trounced us good, in my home, there are, at receding tide, pools of starfish-like treasures the sea is giving up from her murky depths.

One at a time..the deep sea, salvage operation prises a token from a time now gone by..almost like appeasement for the plank-walking demise she’s put us through.

In the sifting; trying to save, we pay homage to the house… gratitude.

I am moved each day between bone tiredness and tears as we toil away down to the Marshall law curfew; bagging and tagging parts of the body of this home which has, over the years, sheltered my family through many other kinds of storms.

I am immensely grateful for her stalwart, savior strength of safe haven.

This wounded warrior is in need of major surgery and we do not know yet if the patient can be saved.

We hope it may be so.

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