Be thankful, it’s never as bad as it seems

When things just don’t seem to fall my way, I often remind myself there is always somebody in a much worse position.

It’s not always easy to convince yourself of that. Last Wednesday was a perfect example. I went house to house across the southern end of Calhoun County visiting with people who had giant trees sticking through their roofs, across their vehicles, atop power lines that were ripped to the ground and blocking dozens and dozens of roads after violent storms passed through the previous night.
All Dock Artberry, of Calhoun City, could do was shrug his shoulders as he looked at the giant oak tree, approximately eight feet in circumference at the trunk, lying across his house. He had no way of getting it off his home. He couldn’t attempt to get it off until insurance adjusters came to look at it.
He just kept telling me how thankful he was no one was hurt.
Among the more than dozen homes I stopped at was Ray James’ home in Derma. The James’ son Tim is an old newspaper friend of mine from Montgomery and Carroll counties. Mr. James told of sitting at the kitchen table when a giant pine tree came crashing down on the house, puncturing the ceiling only a few feet away from where he was sitting.
The worst of the damage was in Vardaman where along Gaines Street, behind the Vardaman baseball field, I counted at least 14 trees down within 100 yards of each other, all on top of houses or across the road. It could have been more. It’s tough to distinguish one tree from another when they are stacked three and four high with limbs reaching in every direction.
Vardaman firemen, local residents and other volunteers were on scene all day and the next cutting away the trees. The sentiments of those working so hard were the same as in Calhoun City and Derma – at least no one was hurt.
At every house I went to I was directed to another that I needed to visit. The destruction seemed endless at times.
But it took a different tone when my wife Lisa and I went to my hometown of Clinton Easter Sunday to visit with my parents, brother and his family.
Calhoun County’s damage was bad, theirs, as a result of a tornado just over a week ago, was devastating.
Similar to the Coast after Katrina, I couldn’t recognize any of the streets in my brother’s neighborhood because not a tree was standing. The debris was piled rooftop high in the front yards. Some houses had no roofs at all, other homes were completely flipped upside down.
My brother’s home had most of the windows knocked out and a fallen tree nearly collapsed the garage, but for the most part he was among the luckiest in his neighborhood.
It will be months to years before that neighborhood gets back to normal.
On our worst days we should genuinely be thankful for whatever we have, no matter the situation. There’s always someone much, much worse off.
You may email Joel McNeece at

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