My almost 28 year old son, also named Brewster, is a certified arborist. Unlike his attorney father, he thinks that dangling from a rope 75 feet in the air while using a chain saw is fun. Also unlike his attorney father he is very good at fixing real things. He loves all that stuff. His dad is pretty good at legal stuff, but that is not the same at all.
Brewster’s 97 year old grandmother, Emilie, lives in Florida near Ft. Myers where Hurricane Irma hit hard. My mother-in-law still lives in her apartment, but she is not in great shape. At this point she is in hospice care and pretty much bedridden. There are three sisters who have helped her for years. When Emilie’s area was evacuated, one of them took her to her own home. When that area ended up being in an evacuation zone and it was too late to move her, she and her husband stuck it out in their one story house. Massive flooding was expected. To protect Emilie they inflated a kiddie pool to use as a life raft for her. (Having known her for 40 years, the image of my mother-in-law floating about in a kiddie pool is both terrifying and quite funny.) Fortunately, the house did not flood, but all three sisters had serious damage to their property, including flooding for one.
On Sunday when the predictions about Irma’s impact were still dire, my son announced that he was going to Florida to help. And he did just that. He and a co-worker set out on Monday morning in two pickup trucks loaded to the gills with water, gas, ropes, chain saws and everything else they thought they would need. By Tuesday morning they were at the home of one of these sisters helping to clean things up. They will help out the other two as well. They then plan to link up with a veterans group in Ft. Myers to do the same thing for people they don’t even know. Brewster and his friend knew they had real skills that were needed right now and they certainly do. They wanted to help – to do what they could for the victims of the hurricane. This is not some abstract concern. Right now they are there in the 96 degree heat clearing downed trees and cleaning out flooded property. That’s hard work.
Yes, I am bragging on my son. I am so proud of him. But there is a bigger message here: The American spirit, if you will. At times like this there is a tremendous impetus for us to come together and help each other. My son and his friend are text book examples. They are not there on a boondoggle. The sisters who have taken such good care of my mother-in-law are another. They took real risk to protect someone who is not their family. There are tens of thousands of others, no doubt about it. I just wish all this could occur without the incentive of a natural disaster. Anyway, the American spirit is alive and well. Let’s try not to forget that. We need to live it even when there is not a hurricane.