SENSE AND NONSENSE: Catastrophic moments can prompt wonderful acts of compassion

By Lynda Hollenbeck

It's widely known that crisis situations tend to bring out the best in people.
Even the cranks and complainers often come forward to offer help when they see that the chips are down for others who truly need help.
This has certainly been true in many instances in recent days in this community and, I'm certain, throughout the state. Saline County was hit hard in the recent ice storm that caused extensive property damage.
When I hear someone say, "Oh, I'd love to have a white Christmas," I bristle. White Christmases in Arkansas usually mean there will be an accompaniment of hazardous road conditions, often exacerbated by ice, as occurred recently.
We in this area don't need this stuff, nor does anyone else for that matter. It's not just messy; it's dangerous.
In any event, as we're coming out of this catastrophic situation, I want to offer my personal thanks to people who came to my aid.
Previously, I've sung my praises for the utility workers who literally put their lives on the line to restore power for the rest of us. It would be hard to say enough about them.
But this piece is for the others that, for lack of a better description, I'll call "the little people."
To explain: I was fortunate in that I didn't sustain actual house damage, but the yard is another story. There are partial trees and debris all around me.
A lot will be taken care of in the days to come since I've made the proper contacts with those people who do this for a living. However, in the meantime, lesser things have been addressed and all are appreciated.
On the first day I reached Mike Parsons, who's in the tree-cutting/tree-removal business. He came out, assessed my situation and promised to return to take care of the debris removal. I'm on a list — probably a long one — but he promised to return. I have faith that he will. I understand that others who had trees literally on and through their houses had to come first.
In the meantime, a Good Samaritan in the form of Ray Waldorf and wife Carolyn were driving by my house last Saturday and happened to see the downed limbs, partial trees and junk all over my front yard.
Ray, who had his chain saw in tow since he had been working on a similar situation at their daughter's home, hopped out of the truck and went to work, making my situation more livable and literally walkable while I'm waiting for the extensive cleanup that's awaiting.
Nobody asked him to do this; I had never even met him before. His wife is the friend I've known for years at Benton Veterinary Hospital, where she is office manager.
This is the kind of serendipitous thing that's happening all over the area.
One of the trees that split during the storm took out my fence, or at least enough of it that if left a gaping section that would have been an instant invitation to my dogs to "run free, boys."
Because of that — and the fact that I know their inquisitive nature — I was forced to resort to leashed walks around the icy, messy, cold yard. Not what one does for entertainment, particularly late at night.
I mentioned this to Shannon Moss, who engaged the aid of Robert Van Norman to help me. The two pulled up my fence in provisional fashion, with the addition of two theater flats to form a makeshift wall that will do until fence man Steve Lee can permanently repair the damage.
What a relief this was to me. They did this, of course, in the uncomfortably cold weather and never complained.
After the first cold, dark, still night — and let it be known that I don't do well with silence (prompting my late spouse to inform me that I would have been a bad Quaker) — friends Brenda and Tommy Harris went out and bought me a battery-operated radio. I was thrilled, but unfortunately it didn't work.
Another friend, Gail Nickerson, heard about this and immediately said, "Well, you can use my transistor radio."
About a year ago Gail had gone out to purchase a weather radio and was told she'd probably like the transistor type better.
I can see why. It provided music and people talking to help offset the silence, which tends to overwhelm me. I plan to get one of my own. (Actually, I didn't know they still were being made.)
Another example of people doing what appears on the surface to be a little thing, but which translates into a big act of kindness.
I had numerous offers to "come stay with us" from people whose power was restored fairly quickly, but I didn't want to leave my animals, particularly my dogs. Bobby, the aged rat terrier, paced for hours while there was no electricity; I was afraid he wouldn't have made it without me to at least pet him and soothe him as best I could.
And about those invitations? They came from people who really meant them. I'm grateful.
There are so many other kind things that have been happening all over the area. These are only a few examples of things that were done for me personally, but which exemplify the goodness of people responding to crisis.
It was the worst of times, but in many ways it could be viewed as the best of times.
Thanks to everyone who cared.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.