Sunday, June 29, 2008

Everyone's Back Home

Last week was quiet around here. Michael and Amy spent the week in Mississippi with a group from our church. They were helping with some post-Katrina clean up. It seems impossible to be believe there is still so much to do considering Katrina was nearly three years ago but the kids assured me there were damaged trees, houses, buildings and cars as far as the eye could see. And their group wasn’t even in the hardest-hit area of New Orleans.

When we signed the kids up for the work trip we were told anyone under 14 needed a guardian to go with. Sean couldn’t take the week off and I couldn’t go because I needed to take care of Rebecca. (Look, that’s the excuse I’m sticking with. I know what it feels like in the South in June. There was no way I was going on a work trip to southern Mississippi in the middle of June where air conditioning was not guaranteed. No. Way.) So I asked Sean’s dad, Chuck, if he’d be willing to go along as Amy’s guardian. In a nanosecond he said yes, so the kids not only spent last week working with folks from church, they got to spend a week working alongside their grandfather. Chuck, by the way, can work harder than anyone, even folks 30 years younger. The kids have seen their grandfather work hard before, but what they saw last week blew them away.

Here’s a portion of the report Chuck emailed us when he got home to Atlanta last Friday:

The kids really did work hard. On Monday about fifteen of us repaired and scraped the siding on a big old summer cottage (probably 70 years old) and completely primed it. On Tuesday about 12 of us completed the final coat of paint and trim around the windows and did the porch floor and steps. It was hot, but there was a very big old tree that provided shade for cooling periods. Others finished the drywall in another small house and primed it for painting (Amy did work there on Tuesday)and others did some wiring repairs in two other houses (Michael joined them on Tuesday). On Wednesday, five of us (including Michael and me) helped another team spackle nail holes and put the first coat of paint on a new house (it was finished by the other team on Thursday). Amy and a large group took down a large tent on the camp grounds. On Thursday, our whole team worked at a new church where the outside of the building is done and studs have been installed inside. A group worked with the wiring and installation of lights in the ceiling and most of us worked on the outside cleaning up the building trash and cleaning the lawn (raking ups sticks and weeds for two burn piles) and cutting down a lot of wild landscaping. It was about a three or four acre lot and it was hot and not much shade! The kids did pretty well, but it was good that it was the last day – they were shot.
Both Michael and Amy said the work was hard but not overwhelming and the housing situation was nowhere nearly as bad as Boot Camp last year. Each said the other was a good worker and we were glad to hear that positive report.

Michael said by the end of the week everyone on the team was calling Chuck “Grandpa." And Michael and Amy both said they were thankful Grandpa went; they were happy to have him meet their friends and they were happy their friends thought he was as fun as they do.

Even now Michael and Amy can see how special it was for their grandfather to spend his week working with them; I know they’ll look back on this week with great affection for the rest of their lives.

Man, my kids have some great grandparents.