It's been a draining weekend. Toward the end of my Christmas shopping day, I got another one of those emergency calls you never want to get.
My dad was on my voice mail. "Call your sister's cell phone. The house is on fire."
He was very calm and matter of fact. I assumed my sister's house was burning. I called her and it was my parents that were having the fire. The whole house was engulfed in flames. My dad had tried to put out the fire, but it quickly grew and he and Mom escaped the house with little more than the clothes on their backs.
I made a mad dash to my hometown and saw the house I grew up in was smoldering with fireman climbing all over it. All the windows were busted out and the roof was chopped. Mom and Dad were on the sidewalk and Dad was worrying about all the important papers.
We all spent the night at my sister's. There was comfort in all of us being close and safe.
The American Red Cross was there immediately to help them. Their family doctor (and mine too) had been home and heard the call come across the scanner. He went directly to my parents' house and checked them over to see if they were ok. He's not just a good doctor, he's a good human being.
Today we went through the house before the fire department boarded it up. My parents had fireproof file cabinets and their important papers were saved. Dad's wallet laid perfectly in the middle of the charred dining room floor without any damage whatsoever. We don't know how it got there. There were some other file boxes upstairs that were also untouched that should have been ash.
My mom had things organized in tubs upstairs and the volunteer firemen, who all know Mom and Dad, were passing them out the windows and down the ladders. Some precious momentos of my brother's life were saved along with my Mom's cherished cedar chest that Dad had specially made for her years ago.
It was a blessing because other things in the house simply melted. The television and computer were just globs of ick. It was odd what burned and what was spared.
I believe that some guardian angels were working overtime last night.
Their insurance agent was on the scene along with many friends and neighbors and, as I mentioned, their doctor.
Truly, I thank God in heaven that my parents got out. It looks like their insurance is going to cover everything. They are unscathed except for Dad being a little singed. They can stay with my sister or me until they have a place of their own. It looks like their insurance will pay for a rental while they are waiting for an adjuster, etc. We already know it's a total loss though.
It could have been such a worse tragedy.
The house I grew up in may have gone up in flames, but my family ties and memories will always remain.