“Mom, it’s Adam!” I stopped dead in my tracks at the sound of my Blackhawk pilot son’s voice.
“Adam, what’s going on?” I sat down in the front seat of my car as the gas pumped into the tank.
“It’s crazy here, Mom!” I’m flying my butt off and they’re shooting at us! Pray for me, Mom!”
Shooting? Why would anyone be shooting at my kid? He’s done a tour in Afghanistan and Iraq and now is trying to rescue folks from rooftops in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. When he called two days ago to say he’d be deploying to New Orleans, my motherly instinct kicked in. “What out for downed power lines,” I’d warned him knowing it would be tough for them to accurately chart the airways in the midst of such chaos. Silly me, I forgot to warn him about dodging bullets. What bullets? Who’s shooting at my son? A chill worked its way up my spine.
“It’s like another 9/11, Mom. It’s awful. The city’s 80 percent under water! We’re trying to drop water to them, but they’re shooting at us!” his voice wavered, just a little. The drug lords and bullies were shooting at my kid and he was only trying to help.
“It’s okay, Hon,” sensing that he needed reassurance. I’m so proud of you and you’re already in our prayers. Can’t you feel them? This is the most important thing you’ve ever done!”
“Can you call Andrea and let her know I’m okay?” He hadn’t been able to reach his wife. “I love you, Momma,” he reminded me and I choked up right as the line went dead. I called Andrea and filled her in, trying my best not to alarm her.
As always, we continued on with our lives, but I was back in “Iraq mode,” praying for Adam’s safety every time I thought of him. Sometimes I wonder if God gets irritated at me for repeating myself so often. I wonder if He has a “duplicate” file for my repetitiveness.
To make a long story not so long, things calmed down and Adam was able to run his missions safely. My husband, Jeff, and I had decided to drive our motorhome to New Orleans and loan it to an Ecolab family that had lost their home (a coworker of mine).
In God’s always incredible timing, He made way for Adam and Jeff to have a brief reunion in the midst of the chaos. Adam made arrangements to fly some reporters to a nearby regional airfield and met Jeff and the motorhome there. It was a great reunion for this father and son and a true vision of an American company that cares for its own in a time of disaster.
I knew how much the reunion meant to Adam and Jeff, but had no clue the significance for the Ecolab employees that had been hit by the storm. I attended an Ecolab management meeting in New Orleans just four months later and, to my surprise, was honored by my coworkers for the donation of the motorhome.
In true-blue Ecolab fashion, there was an awesome tribute to our coworkers that had weathered such incredible devastation only to pull together and help each other. Pictures filled the huge screens at the front of the meeting room along with the personal stories of loss and camaraderie that is so often lost in a big company. Many of us found ourselves reaching for tissues as unexpected tears fell.
Wars and storms will come and go. Thankfully, we have each other and our faith to get us through scary times and bring us out on the other side to celebrate the good ones.