My father has always been the one to offer his help wherever he is needed. Most of the time, without being asked. He works two jobs, yet still manages to dedicate time with his family and contribute his efforts to various community service activities. So when our family’s cemetery was demolished due to Hurricane Matthew, he was one of the first ones to extend himself and volunteer to help rebuild it.
Trees had fallen, caskets had unearthed, and hearts had broken. The Talbird Cemetery on Hilton Head Island, along with many other cemeteries located in the Lowcountry, was annihilated during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. When I along with many others saw my family’s cemetery where both my great-grandmother and great-grandfather are buried, I felt a sense of sadness and hurt. And I knew that something needed to be done.
Both of my parents joined a committee to help raise money for the Talbird Cemetery. I attended most of the meetings that the group held. My mother made a website to advertise for the cause and my dad planned to cook to raise money. My grandmother and many of my other relatives were involved in the process as well.
The restoration committee was able to hold two cookouts to help raise funds for the cemetery. People of all ages, races, and denominations came to support the Lowcountry while receiving some delicious food out of the deal — made by my father and many others.
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All day last Saturday at the beautiful Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head Island, people laughed and had a great time. My family was willing to do whatever it took to rebuild the cemetery. Even if it required their hardest mental and physical work. My house was filled with barbecue sauce, meat, and love during the entire process. For days I smelled like ribs.
Now, I can definitely say that there were some ups and downs during the process of rebuilding the cemetery. Understandably so. But, everyone seemed to pull together because that’s what family and friends do.
Hurricane Matthew was devastating but to me in some way, it was really a blessing in disguise. I got to see firsthand that when life gives you a hard task, you must fight even harder to overcome it. And when Mother Nature gives you a hurricane, you must work hard to rebuild.
After the second cookout I remember my father telling me, “I did this because I know that Grandma Belle and Grandaddy are looking down on me and they are happy. This is something that they would do.”
My family spent countless hours to help reconstruct what had been broken. Not because they were receiving an award or even a pat on the back. But, because it was the right thing to do. It was the kind thing to do. And that’s what the world needs just a little more of these days. People willing to do the right thing not for applause, but for the simple fact that it is the right thing to do. And when food, family, and love are involved, there is nothing my family cannot accomplish.
Bella Miller, 13, is a home-schooled eighth grader who is the daughter of Galen and Gina Miller of Bluffton.