The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.


I walked up to the shelter right at 3:00, and checked in with the front desk. The rest of my group was coming later, but they put me right to work in the kitchen. Restaurants are still donating all of the meals, so once we got the hot things in the oven and the cold things in the fridge, there was time to kill before supper officially started. By this time, Steven had shown up, and we headed out of the fellowship hall to find out where else we could help.

As we headed toward the door, I noticed an older woman having trouble with a packet of sour cream. She was in a wheel chair, and had snow white hair and no teeth. She was working on a baked potato left over from lunch, and just couldn't quite get the packaging to tear open. So I walked over to ask her if she needed help. She beat me to the punch, though, and as soon as she noticed me, held the packet out toward me and asked if I could get it open. After a minute's struggle, I did, and she fixed her potato.

I sat down in a chair across the table and began to talk with her. I never did find out her name, though - she had so much else to say! She was funny and fiery and determined. She was diabetic, and had lost one leg to the disease; hence the wheelchair. I asked where she had come from, and she said Louisiana. Her whole town was wiped out, but was too small to show up on the news, she said. I asked about her family, and she said everyone had made it out as far as she knew, except that she hasn't heard from her sister. She doesn't know if something happened to her, or if she's in another shelter somewhere, unable to get in touch with anyone.

At this point, her daughter came in to tell her about a couple of possibilities for housing. The mother told her she didn't really care, as long as it wasn't too noisy. As soon as her house was fixed, she was going back. Even if it took years. Then she added, "And when my husband is well enough to move." I asked where he was; she said he is in Baptist Hospital in Nashville. Apparently, she and her husband and daughter evacuated ahead of the storm. At that point, though, there were no shelters to go to, and so they spent the first two nights where they could. The second night, they found a house with room for her and her daughter, but not her husband, and so he slept in the car. He has a heart condition, and when they got up the next morning, he was very ill. By the time they got to the shelter in Franklin, he was sick enough that he was taken straight to the hospital.

She teared up at this point - not at the loss of house and home, but at the possibility of losing her husband. They've been married 54 years - the only man she's ever known. Well, except for her first marriage, she said, but she forgets about that one. It didn't last long, cause she only married the guy to get out from under her father's thumb. But she didn't regret it, she said, because she never would have met the love of her life. Together they have 7 children, 17 or 18 grandchildren (she quit counting) and 4 great-grandkids. I told her I would pray for her and her husband. She thanked me, and told me again, "I'm gonna go back, no matter how long it takes. Home is home."

The director of the shelter came in at that point, with another job for me to do. The woman's daughter had come back in, so I left her mother in her more than capable hands, and went to work the phones for the next few hours. This wonderful woman was the only evacuee/refugee/displaced person I was able to spend any time with, but I'm glad I got to know her a little bit. I hope they find a place to stay soon, and that her husband can join them. I pray they find her sister, and that something is left of her house. I hope she can go back home, and be surrounded again by her dozens of offspring. God bless all of us as we continue to try to come to terms with the magnitude of what the Gulf Coast is dealing with.

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