I just returned from New Jersey. While en route there, I was stuck in traffic on Interstate 81, just below the Virginia state line, (Bristol, Tennessee), due to a traffic accident with a fatality involved. This accident involved a tanker truck hauling a hazardous material load that developed a leak, which meant that we weren't going anywhere for several hours.
After being told by the Tennessee state troopers that we would be sitting still until the clean-up was completed, I set my brakes on the truck and got our to stretch my legs. Other truck drivers did the same, and at one point there were 5 of us standing there by my truck, complaining.
Sitting right beside me in the left lane, were two elderly people in a Silverado pick up truck, which was loaded quite well. The man, (Joe), lowered his window and asked what was going on regarding the traffic situation.
Soon we were all talking with this couple. I mentioned that if I had known about this, I would have bought something to drink (water), for I was becoming thirsty. The lady, Anna, said that they had plenty of water, and sodas in the cooler in the bed of the truck, and offered everyone present something. While she was back there, she said that she had plenty of tuna salad made up, and asked if we would be interested in
After some urging from Joe, we agreed to a sandwich. While Anna was making the sandwiches on the tailgate of the truck, she was singing like a songbird. To be close to 70, (I guess), she had a remarkable voice.
When she finished making the sandwiches, and putting everything up, Joe raised the tailgate of the truck to close it. I noticed a Mississippi license plate on it. I inquired as to what part of Mississippi they were from. Joe said Biloxi. Knowing that Biloxi had been ravaged also by Hurricane Katrina, I asked if they sustained any damage. Joe said that they lost everything but what they had on and what was in the pickup.
All of us drivers tried unsuccessfully to pay them for their drinks and the sandwiches. They would have nothing to do with it. Joe said that their son was living around Harrisonburg, Virginia and that they were going there. He was in the real estate business and that there was a home that became open, and that they were going to start all over there. Staring over at their age would not be easy.
I will soon be 48 years old, and I have say that I have never eaten a tuna sandwich with side orders of reality and humility. These people lost everything except the pictures, important documents, and some clothes. Joe had managed to get their antique heirloom grandfathers clock into the bed of the truck and Anna got her china and silverware, but that was all. These wonderful people lost practically everything
they owned and still would not accept any money for their food and drinks. Joe said that "it was better to give than it is to receive."
They sought refuge behind a block wall that he had built years ago, and they watched their belongings and their home disappear in the winds of Hurricane Katrina. Joe said that during all this he had one hand holding onto Anna and the other holding on to God. Their truck and themselves came out of Katrina unscathed.
As I stated before, Anna was singing a song while making the sandwiches.
The song is titled "I know who holds tomorrow," an old gospel song. She knew every word, and was quite a gifted singer of it. Have you ever heard it? The chorus of this song is, " Many things, about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand."
There is no doubt, in my mind, who was holding both their hands. I know there have been many, many emails that have circulated over the years about things that will touch your heart, but this one I personally was involved in.
Forget all of the politics that the news is striving on, and think about people just like Joe and Anna. If you can, help out with the victims relief funds.
If you cannot, at least offer a prayer for everyone.
I know that these two elderly people got to this old boy. I will always remember them. Joe and Anna, if by some strange way you, or someone you know gets this, and shows it to you, God Bless you!
Mike Dowdy Hartselle, Alabama
I certainly hope the story is true... And let us pray that no additional stories along these lines will have to be told by refugees from Hurricane Rita...