Four people were sitting together under the television on the wall. I sat where I could watch the weatherman showing maps.
Five minutes later, I asked, “Did the weatherman say ice and maybe snow?”
The man responded, “Yes, and it looks like it’s coming our way.”
“Let’s hope it’s not like the ice storm of 2009. We were without power for 12 days,” I responded.
“We were, too! Two full weeks!” one said.
One lady in the group carefully stood up after hearing her name called. Everyone watched her walk to the door.
That left three of them.
Leaving my purse and coat, I moved down a couple of seats to sit directly across from some down-to-earth people. We had something to share, more than letting someone to draw blood.
“That one storm swept across two or three states and did great damage to our forests,” I said.
“It certainly did,” the older woman replied.
I introduced myself, telling them where I lived and that I wrote books and blogs. They told me their names and said they were from Oxford, Arkansas.
We connected. (I had three friends who’d gone to school in Oxford.)
“But you know, something impressive happened as a result of that bad storm,” said Julia.
“What’s that?” I asked. “I remember broken trees, heavy sadness, checking on neighbors and my husband playing Daniel Boone. He loved cutting a path to get out of the valley.”
“I remember hearing the wind and the trees snapping,” said Julia.“It sounded like gunfire for the longest time. Unforgettable.”
“Like we were in the middle of the Civil War,” I agreed.
She continued, “And yet, something good came out of that terrible storm. A little community named Fox in Stone County worked together after the storm and managed to get a town generator. Can you imagine a community working together like that, wanting to take care of their people?”
“I’m impressed. People helping each other,” I replied.
God at work, I thought.
She said, “Little places can make big things happen.”
I was still trying to take it in when Mike (her son-in-law, I think) said, “That storm motivated me to put in a gas heater. I don’t want to be caught like that again, without heat.”
We all agreed it had been tough and motivating. It was like living as our grandparents had lived, without running water, without lights.
“Our kids and grandkids don’t know how to live like that,” Julia said.
“That’s true. Hey, I don’t think I do either,” I admitted.
I went on, “In fact, when the sun went down, I headed for bed. Too depressed to fight the lack of light. My husband, however, found the kerosene lamp and was like a pilgrim with a full belly.”
The receptionist interrupted us. She wondered if we were all trying to get blood drawn.
Turned out that I was the only one. The three of them were there to support Julia’s sister.
The receptionist turned away, and I explained: “I had breast cancer seven years ago, so now I do six-month checkups, plus the yearly mammogram. It’s nothing compared to the treatment for cancer. My husband must have felt like he was carrying me across Gettysburg every day! And he made me keep going! I remember him saying he didn’t want to live without me. Of course that’s a scary thing for any wife to hear. I told him that he’d be fine after a while.”
Mike, the man across from me, shook his head. Next, I heard someone calling my name.
The lab tech asked how I was as we walked down the hallway together. “Great,” I responded.
When I returned to the waiting room, I said goodbye to the kind and friendly faces. They had lightened my load.
Heck, they made me realize I could be happy in any tiny town.
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Aftermath of ice storm of 2009 in Norfork, Arkansas area. Photo by Pat Durmon, January 2009.