Sunday, August 16, 2009

Camille, Forty Years Later

The local paper chronicles Hurricane Camille's 40th anniversary today. Go here and look for the gallery of pics.

Hurricane Camille touched me as a teen. I was miles away, up East, but my mom was away visiting my older sister in New Orleans. Early Sunday morning I answered the phone to hear Mama breathlessly telling me that she was o.k. and not to worry. I didn't know New Orleans was threatened by Camille nor did I have a clue about hurricanes. I thought hurricanes happened to other people, not us.

90 miles away from Mama, my future husband started out of his broken neighborhood to walk 2 miles toward the beach to see his Aunt Deedee and make sure she was OK. He climbed over downed trees and power lines to her home. Her house was gone. She made it to safety but her property was rubble. Mr.C. heard a voice calling him and looked up to a surviving tree where a man called out for cigarettes. The man tied himself to the tree to keep from being swept away by the storm surge. Hours later, thirsty and exhausted, he wanted smokes.

Later, Mr. C. realized his Beatles albums were destroyed. I love this story because it shows the proportion of loss perspective.

Years later, my Garden Club held the annual memorial for Faith, Hope and Charity, the three women found after the storm (172 people died) and never claimed. Look at the pictures to see these graves. 40 years later, no one has stepped forward to identify these women as kin. Look for the pictures of Wade and Julia Guice.

The Civil Defense Head Wade Guice was our neighbor in Biloxi. The real estate listing should have mentioned our proximity to the Guices because we got early warning of storms if we drove by the Guice home and saw their porch chairs turned to the house wall or (gasp!) taken indoors.

For thirty-five years, Camille was the worst storm for the Gulf Coast.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

John Wesley's Feline Fan

"Mr.C., whatever you do, don't let Sister (the Dog)out! The Methodists are having a funeral and there is a wedding at the Presbyterians!"

Living across the street from a Methodist Church and catty-corner from a Presbyterian congregation, some discretion is advised. For example: don't sit in your lawnchair popping ice cubes at passing cars when the Methodists are having a function. Don't cut the grass or play lawn croquet while the UMC's get together for a funeral.

Mr.C. said, "Where is Andy?"

Ah, the rub. Our cat Andy panders after the Methodists. We are a Calvinist household a beacon of Reformed constraint amidst the Baptist majority of our neighborhood. Except for Andy the Cat. Andy loves the Methodist Church.

He crosses the street to sit in their church yard. He's gone into the sanctuary several times, most memorably during a wedding as the wedding director held the door open for the Bride to enter for the processional. Minutes later, a well dressed woman in very high heels shooed Andy out waving her program.

Who knows if Andy is over at the funeral right now? Maybe he knew the decedent or her people. Maybe he's just visiting with the funeral director, a poplular man who knows everyone in town.

I presented Calvin's view of scripture, the Church, and governance to Andy. He turned away and began a lengthy cat bath. I read several of Calvin's prayers to Andy. He closed his eyes. Great! He's moved by Calvin's piety. Nope, Andy took a nap.

No matter how passionately I plead Calvin's case, Andy pays no attention.

Andy loves John Wesley. Andy loves listening to the Methodist choir practice. He loves the Methodist church children.

I question my effectiveness as a leader and teacher when my own cat eschews John Calvin to warm his heart (and paws) at the Methodist Church.