I finally mustered the courage to call Sissy Worley Monday afternoon.
I had heard and been sent photos of her Port St. Joe home after it burned Saturday afternoon, but I have always shied from being perceived as some sort of ambulance chaser.
Not much into placing a pen and pad in front of somebody experiencing life’s tragedies.
Never was me, even on the police beat.
And, how much did I have to offer other than clogging her time trying to figure out the logistical nightmare that surely accompanies your home being lost, nearly total, in a fire.
So, I waited until after my Monday lunchtime sandwich and gave her a ring.
“I know I was supposed to call you with the stats,” was how Sissy Worley answered the phone.
Behind her desk at the Gulf District School offices.
While readying to leave to round up Senior Night decorations.
Yes, Sissy Worley, Port St. Joe High School statistician, that is when not driving a bus or crafting budgets, seemed more concerned with the kids, those names in the newsprint, than some pesky house fire.
“That’s just how I am, you know that,” she said, with a laugh, providing not an indication that anything more than a hangnail had interrupted life.
“If I have a job to do I am going to do it,” Sissy added. “Of course, it is hard. I am most worried about finding a place to live.
“The community has been so supportive. I would rather be on the other end, but I had a friend say this is a blessing. Being on the other end is a blessing for those (providing support).”
Could be, totally conjecture here, that Sissy was just completing a job she had started earlier in the week.
After all, as she noted and any who know her would attest, Sissy does not leave tasks unfinished.
And for the first time she could remember, in years at least, she had recently burned herself cooking in the kitchen.
Now, of course, this particular health issue only arose because Sissy was late getting some baseball stats into the paper by deadline.
The lone reason she even mentioned it.
In any case, she had done something “I never do” and managed to sustain second- and third-degree burns to most of her right, and writing, hand.
Apparently, however, that was insufficient damage; the fire followed Saturday afternoon.
“I never do anything little, I go the whole way,” she chuckled.
She did ponder at some point those baseball stats from Blountstown that remained behind in the fire and were lost, an appropriate ending, Sissy offered of a 9-5 defeat.
Naturally, Sissy was letting none of that disable her Monday afternoon since it was Senior Night for the Tiger Shark baseball team and there were flowers and decorations to pick-up and deliver among other tasks.
Let’s recap: 1) home in ashes; 2) hand in Ace bandage; 3) but nonetheless ensuring Senior Night goes smoothly for the baseball team.
That, bless her, is Sissy Worley, as her friends repeatedly noted Monday.
It seems almost appropriate to consider the house fire began in a garage light ballast: Sissy has helped provide ballast to an awful lot of lives, within and beyond the school district.
The circumstances of the fire lend themselves to the concept the maybe somebody, something, is actually keeping score.
Sissy was originally supposed to be traveling with the baseball team to Wakulla, but after already keeping the book for three games, Ace bandage and all, she was given the day off by Coach Josh Dailey.
So, Sissy and her husband Chuck decided to have lunch in Panama City.
Fortunately, they took their dog, Max.
“The dog was fine,” Sissy said. “That would have been hard, if I had lost Chuck or Max.”
They were enjoying a nice outing when they received the call about 2:30 p.m. ET that their house was on fire.
By the time they got back, the flames were gone and so were so many items collected, purchased, given, over more than three decades.
Many would say they lost plenty, but to Sissy, not much.
“We were in disbelief, but we’ll be fine,” she said Monday. “It was just things. We’ll be fine.
“I do covet everybody’s prayers, though.”
Somehow, it seems not a tough prediction to estimate that by this Thursday morning as the paper arrives those prayers number well into the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.
But just in case…