Sharing Pearlington

A subsidiary Blog of our Main Blog, located at and presenting words and images of Pearlington. Sharing the series: "Focus On..." * "Back Home Again" * "A Volunteer's Tale" and other human interest stories.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Volunteer's Tale: "Canada Jon" White and Marian Rose Killoran

The night before last I wrote what is posted below. Intensely personal, I hesitated to share it publicly, so I read it to my wife Marian over the phone at our usual early calling time yesterday morning.

During the day, I was chatting with Charlie Holmes, of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and he spoke very eloquently and "coincidentally," about his own wife Lois and their abiding love and support of each other.

I returned "home" last night after a jam-packed day and received the second letter - posted below, under mine - from my wife.

I decided to post them both. I hope more of our volunteers’ spouses and partners will do the same:

By Jon White
Wednesday, July 5, 2006

"This is my fifth trip to Pearlington. So far I have spent 71 of the past 315 days since the storm on the ground in Pearlington. I calculate that I have spent the equivalent of an additional 1100 hours (46 days) in my office in Canada, doing what I can do on behalf of Pearlington. I have spent the equivalent of another 336 hours (14 days) creating and posting the blogs. That’s 131 days - more than 41% of my life since Katrina made landfall.

It has been a labor of love for me, but what for my wife Marian? I waited all my life for her and we celebrated our sixth anniversary just before I left on this latest trip. How has it been for her? How is it for all the partners and spouses of those of us who have dedicated this portion of our lives to Pearlington?

Marian is the rock against which this particular crazy Canadian crashes. She loves me unconditionally, inspires and honors me in every way a woman can honor a man. She has never complained, never criticized nor been resentful, even though I, more than anyone, know the price she pays. I can only imagine what she coped with when I called in September and told her I had to stay another few days. She already had been on the phone, rearranging my very busy client schedule. She knows me all too well. Then again in late October, when I came for a week and stayed for a month.

What of Marian, when I cannot sleep; worried about Pearlington, its people and its volunteers? What of my wife, when I am hurt by careless words, crying with frustration or angry with a system that in some ways has failed the very people it swore to protect?

What of Marian and ALL the spouses, partners, parents and children of volunteers who, each in their own way, are also Dancing with Katrina?

Let's ask them.

Ask them to send me their thoughts and feelings. They, too, are making a remarkable contribution to the recovery of Pearlington. Show them this letter and invite them to speak their truth. They deserve to be heard. I will post their words on the blog.

And Marian - my Rosie - thank you for all you do to make this possible for me. I know you believe in me - even on the days I struggle to believe in myself. I miss you and sleep poorly without you by my side. I know you know this is a thing I must do. I know you wouldn’t want it any other way for me. On behalf of the people of Pearlington, Mississippi, thank you for supporting this Dance. Your contribution is no less than my own and I am proud to be your man.

I will fly home to you soon. I promise.

Your husband,
Crazy "Canada Jon"
By Marian Rose Killoran
Thursday, July 6, 2006

"I am the wife of someone whose dedication to Pearlington, Mississippi, some days seems all consuming. During our coffee time each morning, I am often on the listening end of something that is transpiring in Pearlington that needs my husband's help or direction or guidance. I notice his restless nights when storms (of many kinds) are on the horizon of the recovery of this little town in Katrina's wake. I observe the single-mindedness of his work on the computer and the phone to gather resources (human and otherwise) to assist in this recovery. I thank God I am not witness to the thoughts that must be firing constantly in his head around solutions and conversations and fund-raising and applications.

And yet, what if I was to "put my foot down" and insist that it all stop? What if I decided that Jon is needed more at home, more attentive to me and to our life together? What if I counted those volunteer hours and calculated the amount of money he could have been making instead?

I can tell you "what if." A part of Jon would die if he agreed to stop being a part of Pearlington. In fact, I could not stop him from doing this work if I tried! One of Jon's gifts is to see the big picture - to put the puzzle together ahead of others; to see it all working again as it should. Who else but Jon to be helping coordinate the efforts of all the amazing volunteers from several countries?

I watch Jon work tirelessly. I hear about his ideas, his stories, his successes, his challenges. I support him when he is weary when things go wrong, people die, communication fails. I observe his ability to take a break, breathe through it and go back with a new perspective and a solution. All of this is witnessing Jon living. Because without this kind of work, Jon will wither. With it, he expands, grows and lights up. How is that not good for me?

I know that some lost their lives in Pearlington, Mississippi on August 29, 2005.

A week later, Jon White came alive.

Blessings, my love,


  • At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Donata said…

    to all the spouses of the one's who have given of there time so freely we salute you for all the nights apart from your loved ones we thank you frome the bottom of our hearts we could not have made it this far without there help and dedecation to our little town .may God bless you each one and may he fill the voide in the life of your loved one till your safe return home


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