|The Night of the Fire|
Mom came out the front door of the house, which was on the south side, and descended to the first step. The light of the burning shed shone in her eyes, whose failing sight had dimmed in one and darkened in the other. The flames were to her left, to the east.
fire roared, punctuated by explosions as it rose skyward. "Oh, my God!
Oh, my God"! Mom exclaimed. She sat down and grasped the iron
railing. She looked up at the ascending fire, then forward, and
thereupon fell backwards, sprawling across the landing with her head toward
the threshold of the house. She would never revive. The spark of
her own life went out that night.
In the aftermath we can wonder about the events that led to what happened and the meaning that night might've had.
Hers was an extraordinary life. She gave birth to eighteen children, two of whom died in infancy. As a younger mother she suffered ill health and the doctor didn't give her much chance. She asked God to let her live until her children were able to take care of themselves. She later had diabetes, her eyesight diminished, and the autumn before, she suffered a series of heart attacks along with hear t failure. She recovered, though weakened
The week before the fire, the last
of her flock moved out. That very day she completed an afghan for her
youngest grandchild, and uncharacteristically, she asked my dad to box it,
instead of leaving it out as she usually did.
We were to learn that Mom never liked that shed, because it cut off her view of the sunrise. The light from it was one of the last things, if not the last thing, she saw on earth.
Whatever was in the mind of God, in permitting the events of that night, hers was not a lingering death. The fire, seen from the distance, was a tower of flames shooting up. In a way, her passing from this world was marked by a torch, illuminating the night.
The shed that burned was connected to another one, and it, in fact, formed part of its north wall. The fire stopped there. Afterwards you could see stored lumber through the chinks in the charred boards.
The fact that there was a light wind from the northeast helped.
That the firemen happened to be meeting at the firehouse at the time,
enabled them to respond quicker. Still, one fireman would tell
my brother Bob that they didn't know how they contained it there. I
would not account it impossible that my mother's dying wish was granted:
that the fire be stopped from spreading further: that she
interceded for her family at the dawn of her new life.
Copyright © 2006 - John Riedell - All