In our little family today, all five of us are doing what we were made to do: I am dissertating, Attic Man is lawyering, the Snapper is at day care playing with other kids (which he loves; we have a tantrum for every leave-taking), and the dogs are sacked out in the living room after having had two good walks this morning. We are all doing so well. I am amazed that we are this OK mere weeks after being suddenly uprooted and losing almost everything we owned.
Then from extended-family land, we have a new niece this morning! She is the first granddaughter on Attic Man’s side, following five grandsons. I’d better set immediately about sending girl clothes. She has three older brothers.
And now, as a testament to the goodness of people, is the incredible (and still-growing) list of things people have done for us in response to the flood. I KNOW that we would not being doing this well were it not for the kindness of lots of people, from long-standing friends and family and strangers alike.
-Everyone who bought something from the registry. Having baking supplies in the cabinet makes it feel like home here, as is being able to take a shower behind a curtain and eat off of real dishes. Our house is coming together so quickly because of the kindness of these friends. We are giving the UPS man a real workout.
-Meg, who bought two of the most important books on the Amazon registry, the Yeats Reader and Modern Irish Drama. Meg is a dramaturgist I met while studying for a semester in Ireland as an undergrad. I carried Modern Irish Drama home with me from that semester, and while I can’t replace that exact copy, it made me cry to receive it.
-The vets at Park Towne Animal Hospital in Cedar Rapids, who conferred at their board meeting and gave us free boarding not only for the extra week the dogs stayed after the flood but the week before when we were just traveling. It was a gift worth several hundred dollars and enabled us to pay for gas to and from Madison, where they stayed for another week and a half, as well as new leashes, collars, crates, and a dog food container, all things lost in the flood. I know that vets do not make a lot of money so this was an especially generous gift.
-Speaking of money, all the family members who sent checks. We keep needing these dumb little things that one seems always just to already have around until one’s entire home gets buried in toxic sludge, like bath mats, baskets, shower curtain rings, etc. It has also helped with our more major refurnishing efforts.
-Our new landlords, who showed me the place on a Thursday, and when I returned with Attic Man on Friday, had the lease and keys on the counter. We moved in the following night. What we now understand about the housing shortage around here and rapidly rising rents (as well as the arrival of FEMA temp housing) makes us wipe our brows in relief. They really helped us dodge a bullet.
-Local friends who gave us their spare mattress and box spring and a dresser. I am not that keen on used mattresses from strangers, as crunchy as I am, and a new one would have broken the bank. It is nice to have something to sleep on. The man of the couple also helped us clean out our stuff and breathed in toxic fumes to do it.
-Our old landlord’s maintenance man, who was sent to the old house when the flood started to put in a back-up sump pump, but who stayed to help Attic Man move stuff to higher ground. When it became clear that the flood waters were going to crest at record levels, this man took the cedar chest that Attic Man’s grandfather made that was full of wedding stuff and other memorabilia, loaded it into his truck, and kept it at his own dry house.
-The Snapper’s teacher, who watched him all day the day we emptied out the upstairs and would not take a check from me for it.
-The cop who pulled me over for not having a license plate on the front (you have to do that in IA, and I was one day past due for putting mine on) and let me go to fix it. I am not proud of using the flood card but in this case it was the actual reason I hadn’t done it. I got it put on that same day.
-My brother and his wife, who let me stay an extra day at their house when the flooding started and offered to house us longer should we have needed it, and who fed, walked, and put up with our dogs for over a week.
-My sister-in-law and husband, who offered the use of their house in Michigan while they traveled elsewhere. We did not end up staying but it bolstered us to get the offer.
-My sister, who asked me what my favorite spices were and sent every single one by mail as well as brown basmati rice, baking powder, and baking soda.
-The amazing Catholic volunteers who, when Attic Man was in Davenport interning away and I just couldn’t step into that house again, cleared out all of our damaged things. It took them five hours. I baked strawberry-banana bread, which seemed like a weak gesture indeed in light of the work they did. I was glad not to have had to pick up muddy items like the Snapper’s crib mobile or that dress I loved or the books I’ve spent a lifetime collecting.
Everyone who sent words of encouragement and support. It helps more than anyone realizes.
The Snapper’s favorite toy. Within two weeks Attic Man had a replacement found on a used toy website sent to the apartment.
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