One of the largest tornadoes in history came through my neighborhood in 1999. I was 14 at the time and I’ll never forget it. The mile-wide monster with 318 mph winds sounded like the end of the world as it passed within a quarter mile of our house. I still have reoccurring dreams about walking through my neighborhood with the sounds of people crying and sirens echoing all around as we tried to find people we could help. It was such a helpless feeling to see the places and friend’s houses I’d spent my entire life playing around completely gone or destroyed. We were fortunate and our house was spared, but our neighborhood and much of our city was in ruins and there was carnage all around us. But as I’ve seen time and time again, out of the darkness can come incredible things. This is a story about what I saw my mom do over the course of the next few months and how the way in which she responded to this tragedy continues to drive who I am and what I do today.
This story starts a short time before the tornado. She’d just found that the job she’d had since before I was born was going to be closing their Oklahoma City office and she would be losing her job. She received a severance and was in the process of trying to figure out what her next career would be. I was just a kid and don’t remember all the details, but having gone through a similar experience as an adult I can certainly attest to the stress of that kind of situation. I remember it being an important moment to her though. Then the tornado happened.
“I just had to do something. I couldn’t sit in my house surrounded by all this destruction without doing something to help”. This is how she would describe why she spent the next 3 months of her life volunteering at the Salvation Army relief center every week day for 8-10 hours. She quickly became one of the leads and spent her days showing love and kindness to those that lost their homes in the tornado. She didn’t receive a dime for anything she did, but I’d never seen her more alive and passionate about her work. It was during this time that I learned the value of helping others and how rewarding it can be.
It’s because of this and many other reasons that I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do something special for her. She just moved into a new house for the first time in her life. I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to give her a garden full of color that she’s always wanted. We’ve been working on transforming the front of her house over the past few weeks and I’m so proud that we were able to build her something she loves.
It’s because of her that I learned how rewarding it is to help other people. “From Seed to Spoon” exists because Carrie and I want to help make the world just a little bit better by helping others grow their own food. I’m thankful that my mom taught me this lesson at such an early age and will forever be grateful to her that. Love you, mom!