After her nephew’s devastating accident, woman reflects on ‘unimaginable kindness’ shown to her family by United Methodist and other S.C. ‘angels’
By D. Halvorsen
As we all struggle against the devastating effects of COVID and political divisions in our country, this Thanksgiving our family wants to share a story of unimaginable kindness. A story of the America of legendary hospitality, compassion and selflessness. Of the America that opens its arms to strangers and asks, “How can we help you?”
Before last December, our family had not been familiar with Branchville, Rowesville or even North Charleston, South Carolina. Now we know them as the homes of our family’s “angels.” And more than that, as the American communities we can all aspire to become.
Early last December, as my nephew, Andre Holliday, was driving through South Carolina, he was in a tragic car accident. He spent seven weeks clinging to life in the ICU of a hospital in North Charleston, Trident Medical Center.
But for the kindness of one South Carolina angel after another, my nephew would not be with us today.
The first angel, Clara, came when she saw my nephew’s car veer off a highway, slam into a tree and catch fire. This angel pulled over, ran across an interstate highway and pulled my nephew from his burning car. Both of his legs were broken, and so even when he awoke, he could not move.
Another angel appeared and helped Clara drag my nephew away from the inferno.
LifeFlight arrived and immediately transported him to the nearest trauma center, Trident Medical.
On the way, they contacted his mother in California and his father in Texas and told them to get there as fast as they could. My nephew was in critical condition and had lost a great deal of blood.
The angels at Trident Medical operated on him for hours, putting rods in both legs, metal brackets in his spine and stitching together what was left inside his abdomen. Meanwhile, his first angel called her pastor at New Hope United Methodist Church for support.
Without hesitation, he asked, “What can we do to help?”
In addition to prayers and invaluable spiritual support, the New Hope and Branchville UMC communities provided shelter and a depth of kindness and generosity that answered prayers we had not yet even whispered. A place to stay, food, gas and even a Christmas tree.
More angels came offering help each day—hospital angels who brought expertise, and a Christmas tree to give us hope and cheer in the ICU. A state trooper who was as caring as she was professional. And the constant questions, “How is your nephew? How can we help you?”
My nephew was in the ICU for seven weeks—some good days and many terrifying days. But every day was filled with angels. Incredible people who made it possible for a mother to stay by her son’s side in a strange town for seven weeks. “Strange” because it was far from home and located in an area of South Carolina we had not heard of before. And “uncommon” because the level of compassion, generosity and selflessness we found was one that had seemed to be getting harder and harder to find in America.
To the many incredible people who saved my nephew, please know that our entire family will be forever in your debt. Thank you, Clara, Kevin, Gayle, Ed, Kristen, the Trident Medical staff, the Branchville United Methodist Church and New Hope United Methodist Church communities, and many more.
You helped save not only his life, but our faith in the goodness and generosity of others.
May we always remember to ask each other, “How can I help you?”
If kindness and goodness seem to be missing in your slice of America, go to South Carolina and visit the people of Branchville, Rowesville and North Charleston. There you will find people who will renew your faith in others and whose character will inspire you to ask “How can I help you?”
“Remember ... that you have two hands: One for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”—UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Audrey Hepburn