To Our Gracious Hurricane Florence Hosts,
I met your family four years ago while we were visiting my husband’s aunt and uncle (your parents). Even though we have not seen each other since then, you did not hesitate when we called and asked if we could wait out the storm at your house. Since we have no other family in the area, we were relieved to have some place to go.
When Hurricane Florence first popped up on the weather radar, my family cautiously watched with everyone else, wondering what we should do. Then Governor McMaster announced mandatory evacuations across the coast. Within an hour, my husband called me, “Pack your bags. We don’t know enough about hurricanes for you to stay.”
That’s when the kids and I came to your house. We came early in the week, not knowing how Florence would develop or what Charleston traffic would do. After spending four nights at your house, Florence still hadn’t reached us. It’s tough to have invited guests stay more than a few days, but uninvited storm refugees with little kid chaos and an unknown departure date–I can only imagine. We were at the mercy of your kindness, and you opened your arms and embraced us.
With two teens and a tween, your family is at a different life stage than us. Your children no longer throw their food on the floor or wake up at the crack of dawn. I’m sure our presence has disrupted your family’s pulse, and I know there are more messes because of us.
Yet your hospitality has been at the forefront. Your polite kids, your Southern comfort food, all a part of our experience as we watched the hokey pokey dance of Hurricane Flo.
Like the stock market, where the hurricane will strike has been a gamble. Yet, thank you for allowing us to stay, even during sunny, anticipatory days. And your children! What can we say to your children except how grateful we are for sharing your home (and life) with us!
To your oldest, who took the opportunity with school out to work on a class project with classmates, thank you for letting my four-year-old hang out with you. He was in 7th heaven spending time with the “big kids.”
To your middle born, thank you for giving up your beautiful room for us, including your secluded study space. You can tell your teacher to give you extra credit points for being so generous with us.
And to your youngest, thank you for sharing your childhood baby doll with my one-year-old. She has absolutely fallen in love with it and taken it everywhere!
Childhood is full of new experiences and lessons. When we think back on our first hurricane experience in the south, I hope my children will remember your family’s kindness. A lesson that even though it may be personally uncomfortable, kindness is like the sugar in sweet tea. It can change something bitter (like being away from home) into sweet.
And may we, affected by Florence, extend that kindness beyond this week. With so many people not working during the hurricane evacuation, may we remember to be considerate and reach out as our Charleston community returns to its rhythm. As we assess the damage left in Florence’s wake, may we help and look out for each other, just like you’ve done for us.