Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I was born Baxter Springs, Kansas.  My family moved frequently when I was a child, but at the age of twelve, I returned to Baxter Springs with my mother.  It was there I spent my teenage years, and there I developed friendships that would last a lifetime. 

Baxter Springs sits in the southeast corner of the state right at that little intersection of lines on the map where Kansas meets Missouri and Oklahoma.  When I was eighteen, I moved away from my parents and went to the closest “city” which was Joplin, Missouri.  Joplin had been my “stomping ground” for most of my teenage years, so it was pretty easy to make it my home.  I met my first husband in Joplin, went to Nursing school, went to college, bought my first (and second) house there and had both of my sons at the hospital.  I lived in Joplin until I was thirty and thought at the time I would be there forever.  But as we all know, things don’t always happen as planned. 

The devastation to the city caused by the tornado that ripped through Joplin on Sunday is difficult for many of us to imagine.  My family members that live in the area are all accounted for, but I have friends that haven’t been as lucky.  Some have lost parents, children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends.  Some have lost their homes.  We all have lost reference points for many, many memories. 

But watching the news footage from a thousand miles away and talking with friends in Joplin, I realize one thing they haven’t lost: their sense of community.  Thousands, tens of thousands from the area, coming together to provide assistance to those directly affected: giving of their homes, their money, and their selves unselfishly.  This is not considered a wealthy area of the country, mind you, so the gifts that some of these people give are significant to them.  But it doesn’t matter.  They give.  That’s just the way they are. 

It is that sense of community that makes so many of us call the area home.  No matter where our lives take us, that little spot where Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas meet will always be home.    

It is that sense of community that will get them through this.  The coming together of friends, family, neighbors and strangers to support, assist and protect each other during this time. 

It is that sense of community that even and F5 tornado can’t destroy, no matter how hard it may try.

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