Funny Life Stories

The Journey of the Prodigal Bear

I have to write about this.

I HAVE to.

It’s too crazy and inspiring not to share with the world.

(Trigger warning: Discussion of natural disaster, and use of profanity as part of a direct quote. It is bleeped out. Letting you know this cause all my other posts are family friendly)

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On November 11th & 12th 2020, a devastating flood ransacked our community, killing 6 people. The flooding occurred in the middle of the night. We got 8 inches of rain, which was not expected at all – so it came suddenly while everyone was asleep. I never heard it raining at all. It was crazy. No warning.

This video is of a CREEK. Imagine the RIVERS…

There are stories from that day that are still difficult to even think about.

Homes were taken.

People were taken.

I will admit, ashamedly, that I never understood the true power of a flood until this happened. It’s been a lot to process mentally and I need you as the reader to understand that this was a horrendous event – Because I know now that until it hits where you live, it just doesnt ‘click’.

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My Dad is a Pastor.

He and my Mom had a cabin behind their house that they built 5 years ago.

Before they built the cabin, careful research was done to determine the safest place to build it. It was built many feet above the highest recorded floodline, which took place in 1916. They also know of an old home in the 1700s that used to exist along that part of the river… So basically… only once in 300 years did the river even get minorly close to where they built it.

My parent’s cabin.

It was my Dad’s childhood dream fulfilled. As a boy growing up in Los Angeles, he dreamt in his bed at night of getting away from the city. (He was from NC originally)

It, in many ways, became their escape from the pressures of church leadership. It meant a lot to them. They spent Christmas Eve’s in it when they became empty nesters… It was a special place for their grandkids… It was legit – it had power, a toilet, etc… It was not primitive in any way. They almost spent more time in it than their own actual home. It was filled with items that had sentimental value – My Papaw’s saw (died in 2015), SEVERAL guns, taxidermied animals including several deer, a raccoon, a full-sized black bear lovingly named ‘Baloo’… cabin-esqe decor, special handmade quilts, the table me and my brother grew up eating at, daddy’s first hammered dulcimer he ever bought and played, etc …

Contents of the cabin. Notice ‘Baloo’ on the left – guarding the microwave. Lol

When the flood came on November 12, 2020, several bridges collapsed, making the flash floods WORSE. Water went racing down the river toward my parent’s cabin…

My parent’s watched as their beautiful cabin that took a lifetime of dreaming and roughly $40k to build was LITERALLY swept away by the flood.

And I’m talkin’ WIPED CLEAN from the face of the earth.

The picture below is the last picture they took of it. The water eventually rose over the roof very quickly and you could see nothing.

Their river ended up rising over 50 feet up the embankment. To put this into perspective, that’s just shy of 4 stories high… It was CRAZY.

I’ll never forget calling my mom and hearing her cry. It was awful. I told them both to get away from the river because people were missing and I was worried about what they might see.

Ironically enough, to make it worse, I had a photographer booked to come to their property on NOVEMBER 13TH to take family pictures WITH THE CABIN… and THE DAY before they were to be made, it was erased.

To make things even worse, they had a wireless Arlo camera attached to a post, and when the cabin was washed away, IT KEPT FILMING for a little while and you can see the cabin floating in the water, rolling backwards, and sinking like the flippin’ TITANIC.

It is HORRIFYING.

Screenshot from video. You can hear crashing sounds, water, trees falling, etc.

I know that human lives matter more than material things. People lost their homes and their lives because of this event. Some people may look at this post and think, “In the scheme of things, why does this cabin even matter?” My answer to that is this: In the bigger picture, it doesnt. But if your Dad’s childhood dream were crushed, would it not bother you to see your Dad upset?

I didn’t understand why God allowed their only place of true comfort to be taken away after a lifetime of service to Him. They themselves never spoke this aloud to me, but you could feel it. It devastated them.

I still dont understand the whole natural disaster… its one of those things that make you ask the man upstairs, why?

After my parents realized they were in a state of shock, they knew they had to snap out of it and redirect their thoughts to seeing about their neighbors wellbeing.

They went to a neighbor’s home where my uncle met them. They were trying to convince her to evacuate, when my uncle looked back over his shoulder, did a double-take, and yelled,

They all looked over and saw Baloo cascading over the waterfall like Pocahontas.

His head bobbing above the water like he was swimming – much like he would have had he been alive.

My mom told me that even though there was devastation surrounding them and lives literally falling apart, she had to laugh. She said the sight was just so stupid. Lol


When I say their cabin was GONE… I TRULY MEAN IT WAS GONE.

NOTHING was left on the site except stepping stones now leading uphill to no destination, steps leading to the water, and a shovel ironically enough… Steps that led up to the door of the cabin that were made out of rebar and concrete were missing. The stilts holding the cabin up were gone.

Where cabin used to be

One weird thing that did remain was the monkey grass in perfect form where my mom had planted it.

ODD.


My parents had tried walking down the river to look for items they might could salvage, but for 2 weeks came up empty. And the only thing they DID manage to find was a piece of the deck railing 30 ft high in a tree…

What the debris field looks like along the river. IMPOSSIBLE. Like finding a needle in a haystack!

But then…

2 weeks later…

a miracle.

Daddy’s hammered dulcimer, that costs thousands, was RECOVERED… a few miles away!

It’s severely rusted and FULL of sand and mud. The soundboard is warped, but IT’S PLAYABLE!

“The Lord giveth, and He taketh away.. and sometimes, He even gives back! Lol”

That was the spark of hope my parents needed.

They began looking at maps to identify property owners and asked for permission to recover their possessions. Out of all their missing possessions, Baloo had their heart.

Over the last 3 days, they have nearly killed themselves searching for these sentimental items. They have found entire mobile homes, campers, cars, etc. The damage is horrendous and traumatic.

Part of a flood plain they are also searching.

But their persistence hasn’t been in vain.

Dining room table!
One of 2 guns recovered! (Missing 6)
Cabin wall panel
Doors, swing, benches, etc!
Area rug

A lot of people have probably watched my parents digging through rubble to try to find these items and wondering to themselves, “Is it worth the search?

Some things in life ARE worth a search so extravagant.

Like seeking the Lord for example.

Think about what life would look like if we all sought things in our life just as hard as my parents have searched for their items in this river.

As far as I know, my parents have not seen one other person searching the debri fields to attempt to recover anything. More than likely, people think their items are not worth recovering. Not worth all the effort…


But despite their success, they still wondered where Baloo was. They were greatly saddened by the loss of the bear… He belonged to a taxidermist that was dying and the man wanted to be sure his trophies went to people that would love them as much as he did.

The man would be very happy to know that poor lost Baloo was on their mind for weeks.

They SAW him traveling down the river, so they knew he could float… even with a concrete base!

They were almost sure that looters may have taken him, or that he was under dense brush, or even buried forever.

But then…

Today…

Another miracle.

“I FOUND HIM!!!!!”

Click the link below to see the moment of their discovery. It is PRECIOUS. It is so wholesome. Lol

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4009054685792649&id=100000644721896&sfnsn=mo

The JOY in their voices is contagious.

BALOO WAS FOUND.

UNDER A LOG DEEP IN THE WOODS.

Here he stands resurrected on the 3rd day of their search TRIUMPHANTLY!!!

SURROUNDED BY HIS NATURAL HABITAT ONCE MORE – OVERCOMING EVIL.

RESTORING PEACE TO THE FOREST.

BEHOLD. THE LEGENDARY BALOO.

My mom said she cried. It was like finding your child when you lost them in a store. Lol

Baloo weighs over 100 pounds. But the father was so excited to see his son returning home, that he ran up to him and picked him up LOL
A FAMILY REUNITED. LOL

Baloo did suffer some injuries. He has a big hole in his chest, most likely from a tree; and a broken arm… and he has a ‘dirty butt’ as my mom put it, but he has been recovered!

Baloo traveled 5 miles downstream and survived devastating currents…

Baloo is being treated with TLC right now by ‘his family’ (lol), and since Daddy used to be a taxidermist, Baloo should be back to his old self in no time.

The prodigal has returned,

and what a story he has to tell.

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