She is a dear woman who is the most resilient person I believe I ever met. But there she was at the shelter sitting on the cot and settled in for the long wait to get to go home. But this time, she will not go home. It was flooded and has ruined her only belongings and the grandchildren's toys and memories of the carefully taken care of things a person accumulates to remind her of the times past.
Mary manages. But then the phone rang and one of her sons died in the night. Last night. A deep grief can settle in on a person. And she of many, of yet many more in this state and the other states affected by the flood we will remember. She and those most touched will remember it in deeper ways. How much can a person manage? What is the tipping point? How many more people will be touched by the "weather" and the changes in frequency and severity we experience? When will it be just too many?
I think it is now. I am believing the things a simple person can do differently, well it is a good time to begin doing as well as each of our friends and their neighbors. WE begin to reign in what ways we impact our world, ways we might just be impacting our very own environment or someone else's downstream.
The simple things like skipping the fertilizer on your yard this summer, because what you already had got washed downstream with every other flooded yard in the states affected, which now blend and rush down those rivers full to the brim and overloaded, spilled onto pastures and fields the farmers and ranchers had added fertilizer and all, all of it is headed to the Gulf of Mexico to widen and deepen the dead zone devoid of fish and life.
I am doing this because Mary can't take anymore. Mary will be my mantra and yours if you need her to be. She asked about all of our LEAD Agency regulars who are managing through with little flood affect in comparison, but then there is Martin Lively who has wheeled himself out of Miami, past the high waters and is way on his way through Kansas on a two-wheeler with himself as the motor making it take him on what I bet he will call, the Trip of a Lifetime. For me, it inspires me to bring my bike to work, so the errands can be done around town without burning more fossil fuels.
Houses and businesses are mucking out and leaving the doors open to begin the airing out process. It is the smell of a flood that can never be forgotten. But Mary's grandson will turn eleven this week and his ten years of gathered stuff is a pile of muck. And with his asthma, he will not be allowed to muck through it because the mold could kill him. That is a serious reality a kid should not have to know. Floods are a deep grief and each one touched knows losses lay there in piles scraped out to the road.
Our climate has changed and will continue changing, but that doesn't mean we can't each one do what we can individually. LEAD's 5th Community Garden Season had our kickoff this week with the Ottawa County Boys and Girls Club members right there on their first day of summer programming, digging and planting, watering and preparing what will be our southside pumpkin patch. Plants came from Cherokee Nation, Frisby's in Vinita and this week the Miami Library's Literacy Program. Our first Garden Party featured Grant Smith and our invited guests were our neighbors and the EPA who are bringing the cleanup of the asbestos for BF Goodrich.
It is one thing to have a flood impacted by a superfund site, but the un-superfund site cleanup for asbestos, which put neighbors and down-winders all at risk for mesothelioma. But this piece of our world is getting the fix and people, probably everyone you know will be protected by these actions. It is satisfying. But that cleanup could be better if ALL of the site was made better. All of the issues.
If you are wanting to begin those changes that make our lives better, get into learning how to speak up and say what you want and ask for all we need.
And one of things I want would be for Mary to have some peace, in a new house, a good book to read and time to grieve her losses and know that all of us are concentrating on doing the whats we can to make our piece of the world better.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim