Their Hour of Need

Some­times the simplest gifts are the most mean­ing­ful.


On the day I saw my hus­band, Wes, slumped over a lad­der, my heart dropped. He had been clear­ing snow off the roof of the mo­tel we man­aged, and see­ing him like that, I feared the worst. In fact, noth­ing was wrong—he’d been reach­ing for his phone—but the panic I felt caused me to re­think our jobs.

Around the same time, the mo­tel’s own­ers de­cided to re­turn to live and work there full time. They were good peo­ple; I knew they wouldn’t kick us out in win­ter. But I also knew it didn’t make sense for all of us to stick around. I turned in our no­tice on Christ­mas Day. I was 58 years old, Wes was 62, and we were about to be­come home­less.

In­stead, friends of­fered us their camper to live in while we looked for a home to rent. When I woke up the first morn­ing, the tem­per­a­ture in­side the camper was 30 de­grees. Fear­ing a fire, Wes had not kept the heater run­ning through the night.

But I was grate­ful for a place to rest, clear my thoughts and re­group. Be­fore the month ended we had sev­eral leads for jobs, but noth­ing came through. When our friends de­cided to go south for the rest of the win­ter, they gra­ciously asked us to hous­esit un­til April.

We took care of their chick­ens and the house and kept look­ing for work. We stayed busy do­ing odd jobs, and the day be­fore they re­turned home, I found a tem­po­rary po­si­tion at a school—and, at last, a place to rent.

For­tu­nately the rental did not re­quire a de­posit or a year­long lease, be­cause we didn’t have a spare cent or even any guar­an­tee my job would con­tinue past June. Our land­lords gen­er­ously re­im­bursed us for some of the elec­tric be­cause the struc­ture was drafty. Each Mon­day the food pantry pro­vided nu­tri­tion and the fel­low­ship of friends. Month by month we were able to pay our bills.

There are many ways a com­mu­nity can help when one of their own falls upon dif­fi­cult times. Some­one sent me $200; an­other per­son told the gro­cery store to give me $50 worth of any­thing I needed. A kind older cou­ple found work boots for me, and a woman cleaned out her clos­ets and passed down her finest give­aways.

Wes was re­luc­tant at first to take any­thing, but he be­came one of the most val­ued vol­un­teers at the food pantry. He also used his handy­man skills to help oth­ers in need.

I wrote sto­ries for ev­ery­one who had helped, be­cause some­times a story can com­fort and en­cour­age us most. Life is never pre­dictable, but this ex­pe­ri­ence built up my faith.

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