Tracking Storms

Dearest Hayley,

Sorry it has been a while, but we’ve been all over the map. Seriously. But we are settling into our new town of New Orleans pretty well. And we should be in our new home within a week or two.

I just finished reading Dave Egger’s book, “Zeitoun,”” and I strongly recommend it to you—and everyone. It’s about a man of Syrian origin who made his home in New Orleans. He earned a good living with the help of his Southern wife, who converted to Islam before she met him. He was well respected and helped many people.

Then, Hurricane Katrina came. He stayed behind while his family fled. He tried to help his clients in their absence, and tried to save his own home. He also canoed around helping people in deep trouble.

But suddenly, in the midst of saving lives, he was taken into custody by FEMA and put in prison. None of his rights were respected. No one in his family knew where he was. They assumed the storm killed him. The truth was that FEMA imprisoned Mr. Zeitoun because he looked like a Muslim terrorist. He was caught in the crosshairs of 9/11 and a natural disaster.

Finally, after a trial and great tribulations, he was released. His family moved back to New Orleans and started all over again. Yet somehow, Mr. Zeitoun wasn’t bitter. He went back to work and re-built his business and home. The experience might have turned me into an angry, bitter, America-basher. But not him. He believed the experience was a lesson from God. How many Christians would feel likewise?

I’m now thinking about Zeitoun in terms of Alzheimer’s. I spend a lot of time being angry and bitter about my father’s condition. Why us? How could this happen? We are good people! It isn’t fair! For God’s sake, he was a neurologist! But when I stop feeling sorry for us, I can see and hear my father all around me. He taught me how to see things coming…even hurricanes…and to learn from them.

When I was a little girl, Beau bought a hurricane tracking map. When a storm was on the horizon, we’d chart its coordinates nightly. We could see how the hurricane was progressing. We talked about its pattern. We talked about our evacuation plan. We talked.

Now that I am grown, I think that Beau was silently wishing he could track Alzheimer’s course, too. Toward him. Toward his patients. Alas, it was un-trackable then and remains so. But he and I were tracking life and death on those evenings. Just as Zeitoun was in his canoe in the days following Katrina.

And now the Alzheimer’s storm is on my shores. Will I grow bitter, or will I be braver?

I will do what Beau and Zeitoun taught me. Live and love now. Help others. It’s the best and only course.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Monica says:

    Yes, fair, unfair–it doesn’t really matter. It’s how you live it. Beautiful post, Nancy.

  2. Hayley says:

    I agree 100% with Monica. Beautiful post, Nancy. I asked my Dad once, “why you?” His reply? “Why not?” As sad as that is to hear because I wish I could change it, he’s right. Blessings friend.


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