Friday, August 22, 2008

A Peek Inside; American Pie

I haven't had much time to work on the blog and hopefully that will soon change but I ran across an article...

One was "Day the hope died: Honoring the memory of Crandall Canyon rescuers
Family, friends mark anniversary, recall details of the doomed effort."

God the first thought reading these head lines was has it really been a year. Then showing my age here I thought of "American Pie".

The Crandall Mine catastrophe, what does it bring to mind for me? Miners, Rescuers, Banners, Churches, Tears, Pain, Explosions, Silence, banners, faces in the dark and I could go on and on. The families are still and probably will be; for some time working toward making things better for American miners .

Earlier this month one of the MSHA hearings were held here in Lexington, KY.

I thought since the families were going to be in town I would ask them over for lunch. Usually trips to these sorts are unpaid and many times it is draining to testify. I felt it would be nice for families to be able to relax before a long trip home again and I was in the position to make possible, so needless to say we ate well. I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the families after the hearing.

We had a nice lunch...(and that is not a comp on my own cooking but the members who was able to attend) Paul Ledford (Kentucky Darby Disaster survivor), Tony Oppegard (many of the miner and mining families attorney), Tracy North (daughter of Paris Thomas Jr), Tilda Thomas (wife of Paris Thomas Jr), Kenny Johnson (a former miner and union official), Wes Addington and Steve Sanders (Appalachian Law Center).

It really wasn't enough time to get to know them all, because my home isn't all that big so I had to split them up into two rooms but they were all so inspiring. I was a little misplaced when I met them all because they were so quiet, so opposite of me but they were all genuine and down to earth.

Paul has PTSD and still manages to find the strength to say what he needs to say and no one can understand real life in the mines better than him. A big guy, sweet as he can be and I did see a nervous grin once in a while. I imagine Paul feels to an extent that no one can really relate and men tend to keep pain locked up. Most feel this is because men feel this is a sign of weakness but I personally feel it is more in line with why a rape victim keeps it inside. It is easier to let the scab heel over then brake it and clean it and there is always guilt involved. Not that any is warranted but all the same it is still there.

Tilda and Tracy were great also, we talked bought how big a a pain in the butt our dogs were, but you have to love them. Tilda is a cute little thing that married her high school sweet heart, I forget how long they were married but she out did me and I have been for 24 years. Tracy she is outgoing and had some beautiful toe headed boys. Tracy is still emotional when she speaks about it all and missed her fathers relationship. We spoke a little about it but I feel it has more to do with our make up than anything else, heck I still get emotional and still have times when I am hit in the face with the fact I really did loose my brother, will never see him again and wish he could have went instantly instead of enduring so much pain. It is just a trait of us dreamers.

Kenny was very polite, good at speaking his mind and he is a coffee drinker (my kind of guy). A good strong cup of coffee just makes the day. Kenny has been sick but he seemed to have pretty good spirits. Some of the toughest people I know have endured one tragic event after another in life. I always call these people snake charmers because they build an immunity to life's toxins. That isn't to say it doesn't take a toll but it is a step in dealing with the next bite.

These work places have a clue what they do while creating a dangerously cheap work environment. It angers and hurts, I feel like a mother and instead of comforting I should be protecting. What do you do? I really don't have the answer except for keep doing what I am doing be there when needed and gain awareness.

But I do know it takes a village and this one has a few tough cookies involved besides the families.

Tony, well he just amazes me. An attorney who not only cares but puts his money where his mouth is. It really is a passion with Tony. I have never really seen an attorney work so hard to keep his clients in tune and in touch. He keeps them together and works for the greater good as well as his clients. We need more like him to put me out of business.

Wes seemed awfully young (or maybe I am just getting awfully old) to be doing what he is but he is very knowledgeable and had a few things to say. He dissected the proposed rules and questioned anything that was or could be an issue. I may be wrong but I see him as a perfectionist, he leaves no stone unturned and when he comes up with the answers don't bother questioning it.

Steve, well he is just one of those people you wish you could be more like. Steve's voice carries well, he's so calm and laid back. Steve is the kind of guy you need around for tense situations. Everyone would listen just because his voice hypnotizes and he's collected enough to make sense. I bet Steve and Wes make a great team!

I really have no doubt that things will change and for the better. One day this group will be able to look into The Children of the Mines eyes and enlighten them as to how things used to be, what it took to bring their fathers and grandfathers home, the blood; the tears and the day the music died for a piece of that American pie.

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