Call Home

I’m standing at debrief listening to our incident commander urging us to call home.
“Call your loved ones. They are worried.”

Today is day 43 of Harvey relief.
Not sure when the end is.
We’re all exhausted, mentally and physically. Sleep is a luxury that barely happens unless you get the coveted day off. Calling home just to whine/kevetch about your day seems pointless…. “No one wants to hear about this shit. No one wants to hear that all you did today was deal with HR crap. They wanna hear about your war stories! How you single handedly saved an elderly woman and her 87 cats from a house filled with mold! Those are the great stories! Not ‘I had and endless series of difficult conversations and I had to adult today’.”

This is what I was thinking as I was listening to Traci give her daily debrief. Day after day- saying the same thing along with “make good choices.”

Calling home never seemed important.


Day 45 I take a coveted (forced) time off. I fly to Philly to see my (very elderly) grandparents. 96 and 94 years old. Still living in the same house for 65 years. Still married. Still very much in love. But now he has dementia and she has a terminal, inoperable cancer.

They both have colds and are hacking up lungs. Granddad had a mini stroke last night, fainted, fell and cut his arm up pretty bad. They slapped a puppy pad on it (whatever works) and I was redressing it. He’s pretty unresponsive. A shell of a human. All his energy is used to sit up right now as I’m cleaning up oozing blood.

“Hey granddad, does this hurt?”
“Who are you?”

The realization that I’m too late starts setting in.

The whole time I spent out “saving the world”, my two biggest fans were sitting at home wondering how they could help. Wondering how they fit in the whole big picture.

Their role is to listen to me. To hear my adventures. To know that they are part of this world and part of the solution because I call them. They listen. Then they (probably- as grandparents do) brag to their barber and bridge club and waiters and whoever will listen: “my granddaughter is helping all those people in ! She’s doing _______! Isn’t that wonderful?”

The two people who used to be my biggest fans now don’t remember me.
Because I didn’t call home enough.

I slipped out of their memory faster than the news stops paying attention to said disasters I’m helping.

And worse yet- they feel purposeless. They feel disconnected to the world. They are looking down their life and seeing the end come up fast- and not caring about any of that.

The moral of the story: Call home. Share your stories- even though they are stupid and mundane and frustrating and potentially filled with bullshit and politics. Call home. Because your biggest fans want to hear from you.


  • Beautifully written and so true. Having family who doesn’t know you is hard, but I find they love the company no matter who they think you are. Xoxo

  • Very good advice! So glad to hear from you and what you’ve been up to. Heard you were there and helping. Admirable work! So very needed and with so little outside appreciation, I suspect. I also suspect it’s very rewarding. Take care and know that the only person you really have to please is yourself.

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