It isn’t the same and I won’t pretend it is. But last year has been on my mind, a lot lately. Maybe it is because hurricane season is gearing up, but I’ve also heard some snarky comments like “if you think these families ought to be together, then why don’t you open your home.” Little do they know that our home is always open to people who need a place to stay.
When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last year, it was easy to post on Facebook that anyone who might be evacuating could come to our home and stay. I knew no one would come. No one did. Then came Irma and I knew I had to do something. This could be bad but did I really want a bunch of strangers in our home? I emailed my cousins first and they were all fine.
We started hearing how there were no hotels in Georgia. This was not going to be good.
So up went the Facebook post.
Now let me add an important part of this story. Bob and I were leaving on Thursday for Maine for a weekend writing workshop. We were spending the weekend with some of my favorite people and that meant my daughter was going to be in charge. Totally in charge of everything. I left her a credit card.
Our first guest came on Wednesday. He is an attorney in Ohio and his wife is a dear friend of mine. They have a home in Florida and he had to get home. There were no flights and there were no hotels. He arrived late Wednesday night, we ordered a pizza for him, and we sat up late getting to know our new friend.
We left on Thursday and on Friday I got a Facebook message from someone asking whether we still had room. I said yes and gave him Jodi’s phone number. In hindsight, I can see how people would question my sanity. I had no idea who these people were. We had no mutual friends and we have still not figured out how they got my contact information. They had two elderly cats, and his son had been killed in Afghanistan. His son’s birthday would have been on Sunday. They had been to one hotel on the way up but it had bedbugs, so they had spent the night in their car. Then they found us, through someone who knew someone who knew someone…
I got a message from Afghanistan on Saturday of the writing workshop. “Do you still have room? My friend’s sister and her family needs to evacuate.” I called him and told him yes, we would make room, and I called his friend and gave him Jodi’s information. She took it from there and I went back to my writing workshop. They arrived a few hours later, the husband and wife, their son, their son’s friend from college, and two small dogs.
My daughter texted me later and said that her friend from South Georgia needed to come, also, with her two children. That whole friendship deserves its own blog post and I’ll just leave it at that. We ended up with 15 people in our home, from three continents.
We took a chance and opened our doors. We’d do it again.