Friday, February 20, 2009

Hometown Life: A Basket for Betty

I read a quote this week by a fellow small town girl who said, I love the city but the country feeds my soul. Love that. It's exactly how I feel.

Blog statistics tell me that a good number of you folks who read my blog are in urban areas. And if there's one thing Miss Marple and those Mitford books taught us, it's that many of us secretly pine for a cozy, quiet country house where neighbors know neighbors and the "good ole days" aren't so far gone. So over the next week, I thought I'd share with you a little about hometown life. It's still alive and well, you know. So here's the first story: a basket for Betty.

Betty, of course, is the neighbor who lost her house to a fire on Sunday. Betty is nearly 80, with snow white hair and crinkly blue eyes. I liked her as soon as I met her... probably because she knew Ms. Freeman and could tell me stories about my house. Stories from WWII and the days when the Blue Moon Cafe, a long-dark diner, was the happening place. I can't imagine what it's like to live in the same place forever, but Betty can.

My friend JoAnne, the one who lives next to Betty, and I were talking about this yesterday. We were gingerly crawling around the burned-out ruin of Betty's home, trying to find something to salvage and give back to her. We'd dig a little and then just stare at the shell of a home that housed so many memories and moments. In the end, all we could find were four cast iron pots and an old doorknob. JoAnne took the doorknob... she's going to clean it up and put flowers in it for Betty. I agreed to try to scrub the rust off the pots and reseason them.

Tomorrow's a big day. The city is bringing a dumpster to Betty's home and crews of people around town are pitching in to help tear everything down and haul it away. JoAnne and Lori (another neighbor) and I are doing lunch for everyone... chicken and tuna salad sandwiches, potato salad, desserts, cold drinks. Then we'll roll up our sleeves and start hauling, too.

But Betty. This morning Millie and I found her outside her house, crying. She needs everything, she said, but seemed especially sorry to lose her coat, her Bibles, and all her gardening tools. I couldn't afford a coat and can't replace a family Bible, but I did fly to the store for some toiletries and some hand-held garden tools. As I was unloading the car, a friend pulled up with an enormous cut glass bowl and a covered glass cake stand. These are for Betty, she said. And please consider coming to the food pounding we're having for her next week.

So. Hometown life? It's knowing all your neighbors. It's everyone pitching in when a neighbor loses all she has. It's cleaning crews and cut glass bowls and tuna sandwiches and toilet paper and canned goods. It's crying and praying with people in their front yards when they've lost everything, then inviting them in for coffee and muffins.

We all need a little more hometown life, no matter our address.

I love the city but the country feeds my soul....

32 comments:

So blessed! said...

So true...so true. I will be praying for Ms. Betty, bless her heart Lord. Big cities are nice to visit, but hometown life is the life for me. My heart lies in The Pineywoods of East Texas...can I hear an AMEN!?!

Vee said...

I'm so glad that Betty lives in your town. Best wishes on all of your efforts to help her.

I'd never heard of "a Pounding" other than the kind one might take in a back alley. Learn something new every day.

Have always thought that I could live in Tulsa, Oklahoma or Tuscon, Arizona, but those are the only two cities that have ever attracted me. Otherwise, I'm content to be a small town gal.

Serendipit-Us said...

Brin~ As one of your regular followers, I know you have had more than your fair share of struggles lately. The tragedy that fell upon Ms. Betty is such a poignant reminder that, in spite of our individual challenges, there are always others whose struggles are greater! When I'm in the midst of my own moment of panic/ near despair, I can't stand hearing that, but it is so true. My prayers are with Ms. Betty as she begins to rebuild her life...and with you as you continue on your own journey!
Blessings!
Kimberly

Linda Z said...

Spurns me on... thanks Brin! :)

Pearls To Hide My Neck said...

It makes me feel so good to know that there are towns still around where people actually know their neighbors and rush to help when there is a need.
You have been in my thoughts lately. I keep thinking that somewhere out there is the perfect job for you. You seem to have so much to offer. Just wanted you to know that I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Vintage Girl said...

What a wonderful town you live in. Betty is so blessed to have so many that care. And in turn it shows how much of a lovely person she is to have such an outpour of caring and concern. My prayers are with Betty as she gets used to a new place to live. Where is she staying Brin, does she have family near by? Blessings, Heather

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

Beautifully said, Brin. Beautifully said! Your gift to Betty was beautiful!

Amy said...

Thank God she has people in her area to help her out and that care. I love reading your blog don't know if it's the country or what it is, but it is a great read.

Laurie said...

Is there a way to send things to her or donate to her something she needs? Does she have insurance and a place to stay? Can she rebuild or will she have to move? Please keep us updated. I feel especially moved by the plight of the elderly in this sort of situation. It's so hard to start over at that stage of life.

Beautiful Pear Tree Lane said...

I am so touched by this, and how all of you have rallied around Betty to help her. It is so refreshing to know that people do really care. I will add Betty to my blog prayer list. Please keep us posted concerning her.
Blessings,
Sue

Randi said...

I love that ... it's the way the body of Christ should always work. Can't wait for more Hometown Life stories.

Dinah said...

My problems seem small when I read something like this. God Bless You Brin, and God Bless Ms. Betty.

Lindy said...

Oh... poor Betty! Please keep us posted on how she is doing!

paisley penguin said...

I would love to chip in something for Betty. Maybe you could start up some kind of a drive through your blog? I don't want to sound rude or step on any toes. Care packages are a wonderful thing!

Kimberley said...

Beautiful....

Gloria said...

I like that quote. My Dad lives in North Carolina and it is true what they say about southern hospitality. The people are friendly; kind and giving.

I live in Massachusetts in a small town and most of the people here ar kind but nothing like NC and if we venture into the city people are down right rude and impatient.

I have lupus so I retired early but Tom has at least another 5 years to work ...before we can leave New England!

My heart goes out to Betty however; she is lucky to live in a community where you all pull together when a fellow neighbor is in need.

wanderingbtrfly said...

I'm with Laurie and paisley penguin - I'd love to help Ms. Betty in any way I can. What can we do?

Lynda said...

A beautiful post, Brin, and so true what you say. I love that quote, too !
Lynda, Kilimanjaro, East Africa

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

My heart aches for Ms. Betty but she is blessed to live in such a small town as you write about. Our pastor and his family lost their house to fire a couple of weeks ago, the second time for them in less than a few years so we are gathering things for them. Nothing can compare to small towns. I too am wondering what a pounding is?

Rebecca said...

I live in a small rural town and I love it. Your friend's quote is so very true. I remember when I moved to my town eight years ago, I felt I had moved to another world but what a wonderful world it is.
I'm so glad Betty has you, and your other neighbors to help. Like a prevous poster said, I worry about Betty because of her age. Can you keep us updated on what she will do, where she will go, etc?

Jen said...

Thank you. We need to hear stories like that. I had never heard of a pounding. What a great idea. I love hearing about neighbors helping each other; it doesn't seem to happen enough anymore.

gayled said...

I've lived in the South my entire life so stories like this are not that foreign to me but I'm always inspired when I read another one...will be praying for Betty and love the idea of a care package being sent too...

for those that don't know, "poundings" used to be very popular in the South when people got married even...you would bring a pound of this/that (flour, sugar, cornmeal, etc) and that would be the start of your first pantry.

~Mad said...

Okay, your post brought tears to my eyes. I'm a little tenuous this morning, anyway.
I have a house and 4 acres in Tennesse to retire to - not a soon as I'd hoped now, obviously!
Seriously, is there anyway we can help? I have more Bibles than I can read - tho will never replace her family Bible. I have glassware, dishes, mugs and household items left from my mother's place. I would gladly pay to have packed and shipped. These opportunities are what make the Internet into a community.
Let us hear.
~Mad(elyn) in Alabama
www.xanga.com/madewyn

Kim said...

i'm digging this.. it is how life is supposed to be. :)

Cat said...

I too would love to send something to help Ms. Betty. Please let me know.

I've not been reading your blog very long, but I do enjoy it greatly. I keep you in my prayers that a wonderful job (or windfall of millions) makes it in to your life very soon!

Cat

One Woman's Journey said...

All you shared are the reasons I am moving back to my country home.
I hae been in the city 2 years. Moved to be near children. Do nt like it. 4 weeks ago I had to call 9ll for emergency gall bladder surgery. Not a neighbor contacted me to see what the ambulance is for. City life is an eye opener. I am praying for you.

betty r said...

Oh Brin, I love that neighborly kindness..everyone pitching in to make life a bit better for Betty.
Great quote..nothing quite like the country.

thedomesticfringe said...

I'm trying to escape the city right at this very moment!

-FringeGirl

thedomesticfringe said...

I'm trying to escape the city right at this very moment!

-FringeGirl

Brin said...

You all are so kind and I'm so appreciative!

After talking to Betty yesterday, our community and her family has her covered. But she said you can help by paying it forward. I'm sure there's a Betty in your town, too... someone who's lost something or someone. A family who needs your help. A single Mom who could use some gas or groceries or an oil change. An elderly person who'd like some company or some cookies. Whatever you wanted to do for Betty, find someone in -your- circle and help out. We're all put where we are for a reason.

But thanks, all the same, for your kind offers to help. I'm sure Betty would appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers...

Brin

Erin said...

Brin,

My husband and I spent a weekend in Amish Country last August. It was wonderful. A tour guide told us that the Amish do not believe in insurance, they consider it a form of gambling. A few years prior a big tornado ripped through the area and destroyed houses, barns, businesses-Amish and "English" :) alike. Before insurance companies could issue checks for the non-Amish peoples' damage, Amish families from all over the country drove to this tiny town in Northern Indiana and rebuilt houses and barns. All of the Amish damage was repaired in a weeks' time. I was moved by that story and have wondered since then-'what happened to that way of life for the rest of us?' So glad to hear that it is alive and well for you. A beautiful thing.
Erin

Kathi D said...

I am blessed with wonderful neighbors in my little corner of the country. Don't know what I would do without all the little kindnesses we exchange.