Ten years ago today, I witnessed for the first time the depressing damage Hurricane Ike did to our home.
Gut wrenching, indeed, several of you unfortunately enduring that same feeling, mounds of precious memories sitting in the front yard.
Just happened to be my birthday, too, so not exactly the way I wanted to celebrate.
But my family did their best, daughter, Kelsey, and cousin, Leah, cheering me up with a surprise party and a t-shirt they made: “Starting new at 52!”
Helped also, of course, that afterwards my Cowboys beat up on the Packers, 27-16, on Sunday Night Football at Lambeau Field.
Days later, tennis friends came to our aid with kind and unselfish gestures I will endearly carry to my grave.
First, former Friendswood High School assistant tennis coach Carol Safe — now the head coach at Lake Travis High — and her husband, Steve, drove down two truckloads of donations she and the team had rounded up.
La Porte High School’s players and coaches got in the act, as well, giving me a gold crucifix, a Longhorn cap and a treasured card signed by each Bulldog.
Then, then-Clear Creek high school senior Stephanie Davis did the unthinkable, setting up a garage sale on her own to raise a few dollars for her coaching friend.
Longtime Wildcats coach and dearest of friends Patrick Marrie wanted to make sure I’d be at our apartment so he could drop off “a little something,” and I unknowingly obliged.
“Dad, there’s a whole tennis team downstairs,” Kelsey said. She wasn’t joking.
One by one, Marrie and his players piled into our tiny living room and presented us with a tennis can filled with dollar bills.
Not a dry eye in the room, to say the least.
In fact, to this day, I have 52 ones still rolled up in the same can as a reminder how blessed we were that particular evening.
A few weeks later, Clear Creek students rose to the occasion again, donating several boxes of school supplies for their Galveston colleagues at the Creek-Ball High football game, also carrying onto the field a banner that again drew nothing but appreciative tears: “It takes a Tornado to survive a hurricane!”
Hopefully they meant Buccaneers, too!