Dear, Dear Friends,
If only you could know how many times I’ve written to update the newsletter, then not sent it to my webmaster!
When Katrina hit, we knew many lives would be changed forever – not realizing ours would be among them.So each time I’ve started trying to tell you how it’s been and how it is, I’ve gotten carried away and gone on and on for pages – just too lengthy to send.
My webmaster, Jason, has encouraged me numerous times to write anything to let you know we’re still here so when you’ve not seen an update in so long, know he’s done his part.This whole aftermath of Katrina has been so difficult I just can’t condense it.Today I’ll try to avoid detailing how it really was and not what you saw on the media.I’ll save those detailed reports for another time.
Those of you I’ve met across the years in my speaking – I have not forgotten you.When I see weather and news in your parts of the United States and Canada I still see your faces and remember conversations and our times together.You will never know how much you are in my thoughts.I have met the cream of the crop in you.
When Katrina hit in August of 2005 I was slated as far in advance as March 2009.In all these nearly thirty years as speaker I had never missed or been late for a speaking engagement and we drove over 300 miles to not break that record.
The New Orleans airport was serving as a morgue and hospital and Memphis, TN, was the nearest working airport I could use.Jacklyn Welch Shockley had held revival services in a northwestern Mississippi city the year before and we were invited to stay in that parsonage only 80 miles from Memphis.That was a Godsend not to have to stay in anyone’s home or especially a shelter.A motel for that length of time would have been cost prohibitive but evacuees filled all the motels anyhow for several states around.
Thank Goodness, due to the kindness of this church I can still say I’ve never missed nor been late for an engagement.And I’m still keeping those already made.Airlines were good to recognize all my flights from another city.
Another good thing, for the first time I had left a good-sized space of dates open hoping to get together with my relatives on my father’s side of the family.These cousins lived from New Orleans southward in communities alongside the Mississippi River on that tiny strip of Louisiana that is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico.I say “lived” because all those miles of several parishes (counties) were destroyed and my people lost everything.They are now scattered across Louisiana and other states.But having that time open helped me prepare for the storm and take action.Unlike New Orleans who was providing free transportation out for anyone and everyone, in these smaller towns we are on our own.
We let friends from Kenner, LA, (42 miles from here west of New Orleans where the airport is) stay in our house while we were gone as their house had four feet of water and unlivable as well as no one could get in any of those communities.What I didn’t know was that as hundreds of you called here to ask about us, many of you were being told I’d gone to work for the Red Cross and wasn’t speaking anymore!I’d told them the churches and the Red Cross had been so good to all of us, I was volunteering to help them when I could as they were overwhelmed.Somehow it got mixed up and I didn’t learn until much later why my speaking invitations were drying up!Took me years to get known and built up and how fast word spread to the opposite!
Reminds me of different times I’d be doing retreats sometimes two a week and folks from Health Care groups would be afraid to use me because I “must be religious” and might mention something to that effect while speaking to a state or national convention.On the other hand, how many religious groups saw that I was speaking to health care and other professional or civic groups and figured I must not be what they wanted for their group!Must be secular!
I remember one lady in Florida where she’d heard me speak to Pastors and Spouses – when she moved to Kansas was afraid to use me for Ladies’ because she was afraid I couldn’t identify with ladies! And here I am one! Plus I’d already spoken to that Kansas group long before she got there and was wanted back!
And how many feared all I could do was speak to Seniors because Miz Maudie is older and does things for Seniors!
Another time a much bigger named speaker had cancer and my invitations dropped – for who wants to take a chance booking a speaker that might not be there the next few years!But I got encouraging cards and letters – and phone calls saying they couldn’t believe what a good attitude I had.And I wasn’t even sick!!
Still another many times my calls dropped … because word got around I was charging a minimum of $12,000 a day.Well, they knew it wasn’t my fault – was my agent’s.Trouble was – I never used an agent so I could be selective where I went and keep my fees – suggested at that – at a minimum!Hundreds of people had gotten me mixed up with another speaker and called her agent trying to slate me!
So I’m encouraging you if you’re on a committee, really get the facts directly from the person you’re interested in slating a speaker.
Anyhow, while we were gone we helped evacuees and locals where we were as much as we could.JWS was invited to speak in churches over a good many miles and brought much comfort and encouragement to folks while I was off meeting my engagements in other states.
When we returned here we found that what had looked like no damage when we left was in fact, structural damage.The mighty winds had buffeted the house so hard trying to get a grip on it that it had “ground” the piers or concrete blocks into the soil … thus over a period of time allowing the floors to be roller coaster … doors either didn’t shut as they no longer met… or the openings had moved and doors would no longer fit into them.
Unfortunately by then, so many claims had been made to insurance companies … along with them… many fraudulent claims…that I spent hours a day and days a week working with over six inspectors over many months…. First one a nice fellow.. wrote detailed claim, and knew structures… but forgot to “send” the claim in. Second one talked to me like dirt.Didn’t know a thing about Louisiana.Well, I won’t dwell on all this..What looked like okay roof… when winds came up realized I had panels loose and flapping..Neighbor helped screw down temporarily.Leaks….Another neighbor and I fixed my fence where his tree top from way out at the street had come crashing down on fence and ham radio antenna – the good thing was…. fence and antenna stopped the limb from crushing our entire house front.
Final result…a classmate and I did some temporary jacking until a local ministry stepped in and got us professional temporary help in jacking and leveling the house … would need more later….Insurance never covered any of that so floors are back to leaning again.. doors cattywampus…Roof still as it was.And now … in Louisiana if we cancel an insurance company they will NOT take us back.Most are not writing new policies.
In the meantime, again, thank Goodness, as all the above took months until I gave up…I had left dates open for JWS and me to finish her wonderful novel …good thing… as so much to do we didn’t even get to work on her book until we flew to her daughter’s in North Carolina for two weeks May of 2007.So I began to accept Louisiana and Mississippi calls from those various groups within driving distance who would boost and advertise my coming – great results.
Last June JWS was speaking of feeling weak when she stood and finally almost collapsed leading to four hospital stays ranging from one week to two weeks to two stays of over four weeks each.Lots of mistakes were made and she wound up with same problem – orthostatic hypotension with spikes of high blood pressure.Then to rehab hospital… More mistakes made and back to hospital because of it.
I am so grateful that she still has her brilliant mind but she is so weak.We had home health nurses and therapists who were wonderful.
In early June we were going to do some organizing of our storage room but she came out of her bedroom holding her head and her eye saying she was in excruciating pain and very sick.Her blood thinner had caused her eye to hemorrhage – immediately leaving her totally blind in that eye!She has now been in two hospitals and currently in another rehab hospital where she at least can now turn herself in bed and lift herself to a more comfortable position.She can’t get out of bed without being lifted nor sit up straight – must be reclining…. Cannot stand at all thus far.
So I’ve been Chief Caregiver now a long time.Again another blessing that folks got the wrong message that I wasn’t traveling and speaking anymore!Funny how things work out, isn’t it!
We were both exposed to an upper respiratory illness and both came down with it just after she was admitted to ER for the eye.Emphasis was put on that which developed into pneumonia and the eye received no treatment until the second hospital.Home health nurse came day after discharge and immediately called 911 to go to second hospital.She’s developed a blood clot in her right leg and must have a procedure done for that before we can have surgery on the eye.We learned yesterday the eye cannot be saved so are making plans for its removal.
I guess now you’ll have a little hint of why I’m so far behind in getting news to you from here.Please don’t forget me for as mentioned I have not forgotten the many of you who have shown such faithful friendship to me through the years.
I’ll try to update the rest of the webpage as soon as I can to reflect the changes Katrina has brought about in my work.I am still finishing my slate already scheduled but for now am not adding any new travel speaking.With travel more and more difficult time wise after Katrina I was planning anyhow to cut down and spend more time writing the works you’ve been asking about so long.
Hopefully I can get caught up enough to make the changes on the web and you can recommend the site to others who are interested in my book and DVD’s, now that I won’t be going as much to have on-site sales to uplift and encourage.
Hope to be back soon with a good update!
Love to all,