Confession No. 146 — Blessed are the helpers … and pure in heart

It’s been at least 10 years since I first heard the phrase ‘Do not rob someone of a blessing.’ My wife said these words to me when my father gave me $800 to buy a set of tires.

‘But Catherine, I asked for a $400 loan — for two days — so we wouldn’t have to put two of the tires on a credit card,’ I explained. ‘He insisted on giving us $800 for the whole set. We’re paying him back on Friday.’

As the story goes, we were driving to Disney World on a Saturday morning. My bi-weekly paycheck wasn’t to be directly deposited until Friday. It was merely a cashflow issue at the time.

‘He wanted to buy the tires,’ she said to me. ‘Let him buy the tires. You never ask for anything and, besides, it’s wrong for you to rob someone of a blessing.’

That conversation went on for a while, with my wife finally getting through to me that people who want to help should not be denied such an opportunity. I bought her argument … for that week, anyway.

Then, years later, Hurricane Harvey gave us quite the bath.

‘Renee wants to set up a donation account for us,’ Catherine said to me as Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of water along the upper Texas coast.

‘No,’ I said. ‘We have some insurance and we have good jobs. We’ll get through this.’

‘Adam,’ she replied with teary eyes ‘we’re taking on water. Don’t you remember? The mortgage company talked us out of flood insurance. This place is already ruined.’

I didn’t want to accept it.

Truth is, we had everything but flood insurance. Still, we’d recently moved our retirement accounts from one broker to another. We could draw from it. We also have excellent credit. Ruin doesn’t happen to people like us. We’ve worked too hard.

‘I’ve saved two pairs of your shoes,’ she told me. ‘The refrigerator has already stopped working, and we still have three days of rain coming.’

Little did we realize at the time that drawers containing 100-plus-year-old photographs were soaking in nearby file cabinets, and boxes of Hess trucks — bought yearly since 1994 for eventual grandchildren — were under water in a back bedroom. Of more immediate importance, mattresses, couches, and chairs were wicking dirty water like an oft-ignored houseplant.

Not to mention, our walls began to take on the appearance of those chalk sticks in that old toothpaste commercial. No longer were they a brilliant white, but an uneven dirty tan.

And the smell.

Imagine every mess that was ever made. Dust, dirt, floor splatters and sewage. Mix it with water that first grabbed everything that could possibly be left in a lawn. It’s an odor that I won’t forget.

‘Oh my,’ Catherine said as she checked her email. ‘Someone has sent us 50 dollars. And someone else sent us 100.’

As she cried, I felt guilt.

‘Is there a way we can refund this?’ I asked. ‘We don’t need it.’

In reality, I didn’t want to need it.

‘What happens tomorrow, Adam?’ my wife argued with me. ‘What happens the next day? Most of our stuff is gone.’

And with that, I accepted where she was coming from.

‘They have been led to bless us,’ she continued through tears. ‘I’m scared. Remember what I told you about robbing people of a blessing?’

The blessings have continued, and then some.

In one case, an elderly neighbor who speaks no English appeared at our door to help us clean. Others have slipped us checks and gift cards, or meals big enough to feed an army. An old classmate even contacted me and told me that she was coming to bring stuff and that her husband was driving his car here for me to borrow. Of course, there’s also Mario and Linda, and the bleach

We asked for none of this, which makes it all that much more special. And humbling.

People — whether they speak your language, or have never spoken to you at all — are mostly wonderful. In our case, they are our guardian angels with only a desire to help us realize some normalcy again in our lives.

Far be it from me — and I mean that with all sincerity — to rob them of a blessing. Thank you all. We love you.


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  1. Adam~Catherine is so right. We do things like this b/c we want to. We know that in times past or in times to come, we, too, have had or will need those blessings. That’s what friends are for. Believe me, if I lived closer, I’d be dropping carloads of things to y’all. It’s so good to pass on to those that you love treasure that you know they will use and make part of their lives. So enjoy reading your world. Sending hugs and love! ~ally

  2. Brian Donovan says:

    I think we’re of a very similar mold, Adam and when God wants to humble us to His love…..we sometimes even fight that like we do the very idea of asking for help at all. Go with the flow, Brother. God’s mighty provision comes in many forms and fashions. Don’t drown (figuratively) because you missed the lifeboat He sent! Our love and prayers go out to you!

  3. All true. It’s about community no matter how it’s structured. People helping others really also help themselves and we are all better for it.

  4. Situations like that can be very humbling! I’m glad that y’all are getting the help… physical, mental and monetary that you need! Much love, prayers and (((HUGS))) to you all!

  5. “People — whether they speak your language, or have never spoken to you at all — are mostly wonderful.” Beautiful insight to come from all this tragedy. All my best wishes for y’all’s recovery. The city I live in is sending a couple of truck loads down y’all’s way.

  6. You all have been in our prayers since we heard about Harvey heading your way. I am so sorry you have been impacted so hard!
    Take Care!
    Kris Swank

  7. You married a wise woman.
    Wet drywall smell is awful. I’m weeping inside for the photos.
    Where are you sleeping and brushing teeth, and are you trying to deal with this house stuff and go to work? Is there air conditioning anywhere? Cold adult beverages? A hot shower?
    Did your grill survive?
    I’m sure you’ll answer all these nosey questions in due time.
    Cheering you on!

    • adamjholland says:

      Ann – We are sleeping in several different places: a hotel, the neighbors’, here and in the ‘Jimmy Rockford.’ Hot showers are available, and I even shaved yesterday. 😉 I would brush and floss in a desert, if need be, and thankfully bottled water does the trick. The grill is OK, to my knowledge. Thank you for cheering us on. 🙂

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