Recovering from a broken heart from the death of your husband and youngest son is difficult. With her own disabling injuries and those of your surviving son thrown in, Angie Hutchison wondered what she was going to do.
But a strong inner resolve and some amazing help from her friends and family have kept her and her son, Jacob, 14, going.
Angie and her late husband, Scott, had spent a lot of time helping others and now the others were going to pay them back.
It started with friends rallying around the family after the auto accident March 1 which killed Scott and their son, Zachary Hutchison, 9.
Angie suffered a shattered ankle and Jacob a broken leg in the accident making it difficult for them to live in their home and business, The Framery, in the 7600 block of West Main Street in Belleville.
Their business neighbors and friends jumped in to help.
"When we heard about the accident, we knew we had to do something," said Scott Loeffler of McDermott Remodeling Contractors. "I saw Tim (Padgett of Padgett Building & Remodeling) and he said we had to do something."
"Zachary was one of my son's close friends and a classmate. My wife is good friends with Angie. I knew Scott real well."
Together with Casey Bivens of McDermott, they started figuring out what to do, talking to people and arranging for donations and work.
They installed a chair lift on the front porch of the house, reworked some concrete and built up part of the porch deck to make it even and handicapped accessible.
Inside, they installed a high lift toilet in the bathroom with grab bars and other handicap accessible items. Contributors included Belleville Supply Co., Liese Lumber Co., Bob Hatton of Hatton Masonry, A & E Concrete, Upchurch Concrete and Cynergy Electric. The city of Belleville donated the building permit.
"You do what you can to help," Loeffler said. "Just to keep busy over there felt good."
Angie nearly choked up with tears talking about the long list of people who have helped.
"It's amazing to me," she said. "Somebody would say, 'If there's something you need, we're just going to do it.'"
Friends organized a meals list with people signing up to cook food for the pair.
"We were well fed," Angie said.
She said she hesitantly mentioned to friends she would like a pegleg, a strap-on piece that works like the bottom of a leg to save her ankle and let her get downstairs to work on frames.
"The next day they said they had bought it for me," she said. "I have all kinds of people giving me rides to make sure I can get where I need to be."
Local Boy Scout and Cub Scout groups put together the memorial for her husband and son. Scott and Angie had been active leaders for the organizations. Emge Junior High School provided a place for the memorial service. Printmaster donated the printed cards, she said.
Other groups are planning fund raisers to help her with some of the financial burden and her brother-in-law set up a memorial account at Scott Credit Union, she said.
"People say 'You did so much for everyone else," Angie said. "I honestly don't know how anyone would get through anything like this without the community.
"Every time I felt lost or didn't know what to do, someone was there to offer help or advice.
"We felt like the entire community got together around Jacob and I and said 'We're going to give you a big hug.'"
And no one is letting go.
Have a column idea? Call Wally at 239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: email@example.com