Sparking a Memory


The fires and devistation in Southern California keep sparking a memory. Vividly I remember sitting in our family room four years ago next January laughing and drinking champagne with our youngest daughter and her fiance'. We were tasting different brands trying to decide which one to have at their wedding reception in March. We were have a good time until the phone rang. The phone call changed the mood entirely.

It was my mother calling from Arkansas to tell me their house had burned to the ground. They managed to save themselves, the dog, and the van. My mother had grabbed her purse, but my father's billfold was in his office space and all else was lost. They never did determine what caused the fire. It had been a very windy day and they had a fire going in the wood-burning fireplace. The chimney had been cleaned before winter started, so that should not have created a problem. The only thing the fire chief speculated was the high wind had blown sparks back down the chimney and somehow ignited in the attic space.

In the time it took them to realize there was smoke and get out, the house was engulfed. The all volunteer fire department didn't take very long to get there, but they had no chance against the wind. My parents lived on a 500 acre piece of woodland and the fire fighters spent most of the day and through the night just trying to keep it from starting the woods on fire.

When my mother called it took awhile for it to sink in just what had happened. I thought I'd heard her wrong at first, it seemed the last thing from my mind. My father had just been home a day from the hospital after having his second hip replacement surgery that year, and I was afraid she was calling to tell me something bad had happened with him. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the news to be that.

Time has passed and they've moved back north to the area they'd left when they retired. Their friends are still here and are glad to have them back. Selfishly, I, as an only child, am glad to have them closer… for the inevitable will come some day and it will be easier for me to help. They gradually have rebuilt their lives… and accumulated more things to replace all the things they lost. I was able to give them pictures and even re-produced a cross-stitch I'd made them originally that hung in the old house. Still? I know it took years off their lives. Especially my dad. It took a lot from my dad. He's changed since the fire.

I know there are some of you who are near these fires. I'm sure there will be years of clean up and restoration. I am positive there will be lives changed forever. I hope I didn't sound too callous on my last post, when talking about the animals. My heart does go out to them… to you… whoever you are.