I just found out that one of our MemberPartners and good friend, singer/songwriter Pam Mark Hall, is one of the evacuees of the town of Oroville where she grew up, and has, of late, relocated and is housing and caring for her mother who has dementia. She and her mother are in Chico right now, readying to return home today. She says they have changed the mandatory evacuation to a warning, which means they can return home as long as they are ready to pick up and leave again at a moment’s notice should the situation worsen.
It seems ironic to me that in the age of the refugee and all the controversy about whether to welcome them or not, one of our own would actually be one. Pam writes: “It has definitely made me imagine what it would be like to be a Syrian refugee with no resources to turn to. That first night was really scary because we weren’t sure what to do or where to go. We were heading to the state fairgrounds when we got a phone call from the agency that sends caregivers to help with my mom. They told us to go to this church where we would be assigned to a family. The community of Chico really pulled together and opened up its arms to Oroville. It was a beautiful thing to behold; 188,000 people is a lot to accommodate.”
Turns out the church Pam and her mom were assigned to was Mormon. “It was a stereotype buster,” she writes. “The lady was Mormon and we had sweet fellowship. God is bigger than all our notions.”
After that first night, Pam’s two brothers put them up in a hotel, and then Pam relates a surprise — one of those things that disasters and hardship can dredge up in our lives that take us to new and uncharted areas in our relationships. Pam’s father joined them, and this was significant because Pam and her father had had a falling out last summer. “So this has been great for us to rebuild our relationship. My mom is in her own little world and sleeps a lot. She doesn’t talk much, but we have been able to laugh quite a bit. It has been a sweet time, but we are ready to get home.”
So today, along with thousands of others, they will be on a crowded highway returning home.
“As I think about it, I was a refugee displaced from my home in Nashville for 3.5 years, living with various friends until I was able to move into my own place in Oroville last May. Then my tribe raised the money to bring all my possessions from Nashville to me, and now I have my own cozy Hobbit Hole with my piano, guitar and paints and wild birds on the patio. Leaving on Sunday, knowing there was a possibility my piano might drown, was sad. I’ll be happy to sit and play it tonight.”
Play, sweet Pamela. Play. We love your music.