From September 28, 2022 to March 28, 2023 is roughly 6 months, 26 weeks, or 181 days. That was the day that the rest of my life changed forever. We left
- our retirement home never to return,
- the church I loved, a job she cherished, and many dear friends at each location,
- the collegiality of the food pantry where we served others,
- morning bike rides in the surrounding neighborhoods,
- the proximity to professional sporting events,
- all our possessions behind except what we could pack into our car, and
- scrapbooks of memories of days that will never be recovered outside our minds.
We headed back to the state where she was born, where both of us attended Junior High, High School, University, and where I spent 3.3 years in Uncle Sam’s Navy. It is where we first met on a school bus and again in Dr. Ashworth’s Botany class at Clemson University. We married in that college town at the First Baptist Church. We celebrated our 50th Anniversary in Sanibel less than a month before that fateful day.
In that flight we were welcomed with open arms by family. Louise and Bix set us up with winter coats and a clipboard organizer to take endless notes on so many things we needed to do. Rich and Lorie took us into their house when we didn’t know where else to go. One Sunday afternoon Betty wandered off in the car as I lay recuperating from an illness. She was rescued by Ben and Jennifer that evening when her headlights went out. We poured thousands of $$$ in into that 2000 Buick LeSabre not knowing what kind of vehicle we will need in our future life.
We have struggled with
- three different insurance companies over settlements—some more reasonable than others;
- DMVs in two states as we tried to get new driver’s licenses, a title replacement, and a new vehicle registration;
- Medicare to get doctors as one of us is on a Medicare Advantage Plan and the other in a Medicare Supplemental Program as we tried to discern the stark differences between the two;
- two sets of respiratory infections both of which had us down for weeks not just days;
- important financial decisions before we were ready to make them;
- computer woes that resulted in the expiration of my laptop on the operating table and its replacement found at the closest Big Box store; and
- each other over selling the skeleton of a house and the property it rests on that almost resulted in a break up of a wonderful marriage.
We now wear mostly hand-me down clothes and new ones given as gifts in a new apartment furnished primarily with furniture donated by a very generous niece and nephew. The move was orchestrated and executed by five wonderful nieces and nephews and a sister-in-law. We are located close to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a paved-over rail line great for riding bikes!
Our future is still uncertain! So many questions as we face precious years ahead. Will we
- get used to apartment living after 40 years of living in houses with a yard?
- become minimalists or will materialism take back over our lives?
- use this experience by volunteering to meet needs of those less fortunate than us?
- find purpose in our lives as we move ahead in a new environment?
One of my former pastors wrote this to me:
I pray that as you continue to deal with the life upheaval Ian wrought that you are granted the serenity and clarity to know what the “next right step” for you will be. As you do, remember it’s called a “disaster” and not “an inconvenience”. It’s something that has uprooted and overturned the lives of so many, including in your normal support systems. And not just in the loss of “stuff”. I pray that you are gentle with yourselves during this time, and allow whatever time is needed and takes to heal and discern what is next. Sometimes the push to “rebuild” and “get back to normal” is so strong that we don’t allow ourselves the time for what God intends next to fully form and become clear.
Words that reached deep down into my soul. I suspect that I have been too eager to “rebuild” and “get back to normal” while Betty is trying to heal and has become discouraged about “the next right step.” I went back to in-person church this past Sunday for the first time since the Sunday before the storm hit. The church is very friendly and may be a place where I can heal.
Thanks to everyone who reached out to help and to those who helped when we reached out to them. Signing off as we hear The Swamp Rabbit Trail calling . . .
To be continued this September.
Coming soon: Considerations when developing healthy-eating policy
4 thoughts on “Six months after Ian: a personal update.”
Glad to hear you are able to start moving on and are finding ways to heal and to support each other after an awful disaster. I look forward to your insights in this blog.
I try to approach it one day at a time.
Rob, as always, your honesty, humility and thoughtfulness when generously sharing your experiences and insight is inspiring to me, and I continue to keep you and Betty in my heart. (thank you, also, for including your pastor’s note – really beautiful)
Thank you Karen. It has been an experience! Writing helps me process my life.