I'm thinking about you all, wondering how you are, hoping you are well and happy. I appreciate that you continue to read about my life from your homes around the globe, and I remain buoyed by your kind words of support. I wish I had more time to read your blogs or email and text you, but my free moments are fleeting. However, a few weeks ago I read this post on Julie's blog.
I was hiding in my room, hoping to finish my cup of coffee before any of the boys noticed me missing, so I quickly scanned the post. Now, normally I'm a fairly positive gal. I've overcome my fair share of adversity and I have faith that most everything will turn out okay in the end. I consider myself a spiritual person, inclusive in my beliefs, because I basically think a rose by any other name is God. But when I saw Julie's "Miracles" card, I rather cynically dismissed it. I was pretty sure Jesus Christ wasn't going to come down and cure my mother's pulmonary fibrosis. But you know, sometimes miracles aren't quite so splashy.
We've been on a quest to install a house generator since the beginning of September. Ulysses and I could debate who had the greater odyssey, from failed delivery attempts ("No, that 18-wheeler won't fit down my driveway; and no, you may not leave the 500 pound generator at my curb."), to delayed permits, locked electrical panels, and a propane company that failed to understand that MY MOTHER WILL DIE WITHOUT ELECTRICITY ("We're sympathetic, but we just can't schedule your site survey/gas line installation/final hook-up without generator placement/ permit numbers/final inspections.") So, with Hurricane Sandy bearing down on New Jersey we finally got the propane company to agree to come out last Friday to hook up the preliminary gas lines, followed by a visit from the plumbing inspector.
Then I got sick. Sick-in-bed sick. Felled, if you will, by the only thing that can keep a good mother down--an intestinal virus that had flattened Three two days earlier. I managed to get all the kids off to school before collapsing, but I knew I wasn't going to be able to direct the propane crew or meet the inspector.
But then my brother arrived. He's been taking a day off from work each week to visit my mother, so he assessed the situation and took control. The plumbing inspector arrived before the work crew, therefore having nothing to inspect, but when Sean told him our situation he told us to do whatever was necessary for my mother and to call him when the job was done. When Sean found out our final hook-up wasn't scheduled until Wednesday--you know, AFTER THE HURRICANE--he enlisted one of his friends to act as our advocate. Sean described her as a "fixer," so I don't know if she made the supervisor an offer he couldn't refuse, but the company agreed to come on Monday to finish the job.
The Captain stayed home Monday to make sure the crew showed up despite the gusting wind and rain. They did, but when they completed the pipe fittings they informed us our propane wasn't scheduled to arrive until Wednesday--you know, AFTER THE HURRICANE. The Captain made me stand in the room with him while he spoke with the supervisor, I imagine to prevent him from making death threats. Finally, at about 4:00 the propane truck arrived and filled the tanks in the 40 mile per hour winds.
And then we waited.
The power cycled on and off and each time the generator kicked in and took over. We watched through the night as substations glowed in the distance, exploding under the weight of downed trees. The boys read me their twitter feeds as their friends lost power. But we did not.
Eighty percent of my town remains without power as of today. My children haven't been to school all week and there is no target date for their return. The Captain cannot get into New York because New Jersey Transit doesn't know when trains will be running. Tracks are broken and obstructed by everything from trees to boats and cargo containers that washed ashore. He can't drive in because there is a two hour wait at the tunnel, and he can't waste the gasoline. If one can find a gas station that has power, there is a three hour snaking line to fill containers and tanks, plus a ten gallon limit. Police are deployed to prevent violence as people grow more desperate. This is just what is happening in north Jersey; the shore is completely destroyed, and those poor people face much greater obstacles.
Sean and his family lost power so they are staying here tonight. They lent their generator to an elderly couple because the husband relies on oxygen converters, just like my mother. They arrived with the food they could salvage, their clothes to be washed,their children and their dog. Our house is open to those who need it, because we feel blessed. The fact that we remain safe, that our mother is protected in this haven of light and heat is amazing. You might even say miraculous.