Forty-Six years ago today, my family lost almost all their material items, but we were all okay and that is all that mattered. Everything else was replaceable. Following is an excerpt from Traces of a Hero that tells this story:
My parents always taught us the value of paying things forward, but there were moments in which they had to be the recipients of the generosity of others. One of my first memories as a young child was traumatic. Just a few days before Christmas, when I was three-and-half-years old and Tracy was one-and-a-half-years old, my dad was painting in the basement. He had a can of paint thinner close by and accidentally knocked it over. It caught the pilot light on the water heater and exploded.
Mom and Trace had been out Christmas shopping, but I was upstairs in the living room playing with my dolls when the explosion occurred. Dad ran upstairs yelling my name, but by this time I had hidden behind a chair. The noise from the explosion coupled with my dad’s yelling scared me. Nevertheless, he found me hiding behind the chair, scooped me up, and ran out the door.
My dad volunteered at a fire house just a block away, and he ran straight there with me in his arms. He threw open the garage door to the fire truck bay and set me up in the truck’s seat.
He then began to yell, "My house is on fire!”
The others thought he was kidding at first because he was a big joker, but when the garage door came down, he yelled, "If you don't open that door, I am going right through it! My house is on fire!” By this time, they knew he was serious.
We pulled up to our burning house and flames were engulfing it. Our neighbor took me and held me as we watched my dad and the fireman fight the fire.
When all was said and done, the shell of the house was left, but we lost everything from our baby pictures, Mom’s wedding gown, and all our personal items. We had to move into a rental home for many months while our house was rebuilt.
Only one week after fire destroyed much of our home, my mom had to have major surgery. I witnessed from my earliest memories, my parents struggling with some really tough stuff from which they had to pull from their inner strength and faith to deal with. They taught us great lessons - that when your strength is tested, you give it your all. My Mom would say, "What don't kill you makes you stronger.”
Well, my parents should be able to bench press a house by now with all the strength they’ve been building! As important as it is to help others, sometimes it’s just as important to allow the help of others.
All the best, always!
When I shared with my cousin David about the 1967 fire last year, he put out a call to our family to find any pictures they could of my family before the fire. My cousin Diane found this photo - it was taken just 2 days after the fire on Christmas day with our cousins. I am in the stripped shirt and my dad is holding Tracy in front of the Christmas tree. I am very thankful to my cousins for taking their time to find this photo, something that is now so precious to me.