by Connie S. Hall
When disaster strikes many people ask “Why me?” or they blame God for their misfortune. Not my friend Janice, she says, “The important things are here – my husband, myself, and our cats.”
Friday, November 2nd started out a normal workday, until the telephone rang shortly after 8:30 am. It was my friend Karen, “Connie – there’s a fire in the park – it’s Janice’s mobile home.”
After making a few phone calls prior to leaving work, I closed down the computer, but answered one last call. It was Janice, “I’m racing home Connie – my...”
I interrupted, “I know Janice. I’m leaving right now.”
Janice arrived a few minutes before me. Already the television cameras were on the scene. Friends watched as the fire department continued spraying water. Soon they were digging through the ashes. The most heart-breaking scene was when a firefighter came toward Janice holding out a couple of charred giraffes from her collection, which had belonged to her grandmother. All together, they found five blackened giraffes in their search, and three burnt around the edge 11” x 14” pictures of her recently deceased mother. It seemed to take forever for the firefighters to complete their job, then the long wait for the fire inspector to say it was safe to go in. The news people lingered most the day.
The kitchen area where the fire started was a complete loss, but we were able to enter through the rear door and start the cleanup in the bedrooms. At first glance, we were sure the clothes were okay, but as I pulled them from the closet, it looked as though someone had left their iron on the shoulders of each shirt. The scorch marks were obvious. There was none left untouched. After washing them, the brown marks remained, and so did the smell.
There were many miracles that day. Although everything was lost and they had no insurance, all the cats survived. Most of the pictures were left untouched, even the ones retrieved from areas where the fire destroyed other items. There was no rhyme or reason to the direction the fire burned.
To me it was unbelievable the people who drove by the burned out trailer and the offers of kindness extended. Complete strangers offered to bring food, clothing, and anything they might need. There are many good people in this world, and offers of help are still coming in.
As a writer, I want to tell stories showing this sort of kindness because there are many fine and caring people. When I write, I hope to show the type of empathy displayed that day. Too often, writers leave the emotion out of the story.