Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A day of remembering...

This morning I woke up at 3:40. Got in the van and turned off my see SEVEN firetrucks, THREE police patrol cars, ONE ambulance and THREE Huntsville Utilities trucks lining the street--which was the only way to get out of the neighborhood. WHY? Because the house and one, maybe two, cars on a corner a couple streets over were ABLAZE!!! I saw a million blaring lights and thought I was dreaming! This is my second fire to see in as many months...Remember the last one? At least I wasn't the one who found this one. Here's a short article at WAFF...keep this family in your prayers b/c when I drove by this morning it was clear that this home was completely engulfed and most of this family's material possessions are most likely a total loss.
Fires are something that amaze me. At times, I can stare into a fire and be mesmerized. Other times it completely repulses me. It brings back memories. It takes me back to another fire.
I remember the house I grew up in. I remember playing with my brother in our bedrooms. I remember the sandbox next to the garage that my dad had build for us. I remember riding our bikes in the driveway. I remember eating on picnic table in the back yard. I remember laying on my back next to my dad watching tv--we would prop our heads on the single step that led to the kitchen. I remember the day my mom left the laundry room window open while we were gone, and when we came back there was a squirrel going bazonkers and we were terrified about what could be causing that noise behind the door. I remember laying in the floor pretending with my brother that the large spot in the carpet that had been melted by a fallen lamp was our own personal smurf village. I remember having my friends over to play, and being forced to take Sunday nap even though a friend was there. I remember.
15 months old

Age 3, I think

My 4th birthday

I remember that the summer before 3rd grade the house that I had grown up in caught fire and burned.
My childhood home

My mom, brother and I had gone to Tennessee to visit my grandparents. My dad stayed home to work. One morning a neighbor called my Grandpa (the one in MI) to see if he could get in touch with my dad because there were flames coming out of the back of the house. My dad had left for work about 5:00am. The fire started, they think, around 5:30. The fact that he did not oversleep that day and was not home has always been the source of one of my greatest thanksgivings.
My birthday-'87. House burned in June that year.

We lost almost everything. My mom had made her wedding dress. She had saved our baby clothes. All of our clothing and toys that were in the house. For us in TN, we had our suitcase-full. Dad only had his one set of work clothes. One thing I will always be thankful for is that right before we had moved my mom had relocated all of our family pictures to a large wooden chest. This chest was on the opposite end of the house that the fire stated on, so the things inside were only smoke-stained. All of what wasn't actually burned was smoke-stained, and most of that was ruined.

My baby book. It was under another book, so the part sticking out was smoke-stained.

I still remember that smell. Going through our things, trying to find something we could keep. To this day, those pictures still smell like our burned house. Those who have not experienced it may not be able to differentiate--but it's not the same. It's different from a campfire. It's different from a grill. It's engulfing. It's consuming. It's dirty. I will never forget it.

My parents decided not to let my brother and I walk through the burned house when we got back. In a way I'm glad, but in a way, I really wish I could've seen the inside.

We moved into a hotel, on a short-term basis. It was a Knight's Inn--I totally remember it. We got to go to Toys R Us and pick out one toy--any toy we wanted. I picked a Red-Headed Cornsilk Cabbage Patch Kid. I loved that doll. I'm touched today to see my daughter play with something that marks such an important event in my life. I also received a 'replacement bible' that I don't use for my personal study these days, but that bible holds special meaning to me.

My parents decided to rebuild on our same lot. We lived with my grandparents (only a few miles away) while they tore down our burned house, dug a basement, and built the new one. It was about a year. I am grateful that my Grandma and Grandpa opened their home to us, and I still have fond memories of our time with them.

Halloween at Grandma's house, 3rd grade

There are many events that have shaped me and who I am. I am not exactly sure of the effect this has had on me, but I know it's a landmark. It's definitely an experience that not many people have in common. I think as an adult, it still causes me to have reactions to certain possessions. On one hand, I realize that so many of the things I have make my daily life easier and more convenient, but should I lose them it would have little effect on me. The majority of my possessions are held loosely by me, I think. On the other hand, however, I cling to the things that mark the path of me and of my family. I horde my pictures. I love my videos. I keep the things that remind me of high school, and college, and my life with Jon. I love things that remind me of my kids as babies. I realize that these things can be lost, but I also know that of my material possessions, losing these things is what would cause me the most grief and sorrow.

Losing all of your material possessions is also something that helps one realize the value of life and family. I am so grateful that nobody I love was hurt or lost in the fire. I pray protection over my family, because going through such a tragedy can help you realize just how quickly someone can be lost.

It is weird how seeing that house this morning has thrown me into a day of nostalgia. It's sort of haunting to look back through the pictures. In a way, though, I'm grateful for the memories. Remembering...


Sunny said...

I hate that you and your family had to go through that. I can only begin to imagine. My two biggest fears are wrecks and fires.

I loved looking back over your pictures! I'm glad that you have those.


I can't believe you came across another fire. I know that that has to bring back a lot of memories for you. I can't imagine going through that. I could see how it makes you want to hold close to the things that mean so much like pictures and baby clothes. I know you're thankful to still have pictures from when you were little.

Jason said...

I hate that you all had to go through that, too. Glad nobody was hurt, but I hate the feeling of loss you guys still live with.

I gotta say: that big white multi-colored-polka-dot toy from your 15 month old picture would've scared me to death as a kid!

Stacy said...

It was a toybox!!! I loved it!! When I was 3 or 4 my brother was 2 or 3 and peed in it! Bleecccch!!!

Bethany said...

Stacy, I am glad that your family made it through the fire. AND that you have a good perspective on "stuff." My parents house burned in April '07. It was neat for us to go through that together. My whole life my parents stressed the value in PEOPLE not THINGS. And we got to see my parents react in just such a way. They lost some special things that can't be replaced but they (and we) know that we still have each other and THAT'S what counts!

Danaƫ said...

Too remember the last days I enjoyed with my family…. we all went out for a family trip.