House Fire

True story from December, 2008:

So, last night I got the following phone call:
Me: “Hello!”
My sister Emily (In tears): “Mom and dad’s house is on fire!!!”
Me: “Oh my God, I’ll be right over.”

As my husband drove us to the scene (my parents live only 15 minutes away) I began racing through many different thoughts.

First, I thought, I bet it was my mother’s fault. Just the other day she was asking my husband if it would be okay to CUT a strand of Christmas lights to fit the exact size of the front of the roof. (She’s a very smart, successful corporate attorney, but the woman does not have a whole lot of common sense when it comes to some household situations.)

My next thought turned to the plasma TV. My parents just purchased a beautiful 52 inch plasma TV that they mounted in the living room a few months ago. It is my father’s new pride and joy. Now that my sister and I are grown up, it is like he has a new passion in life, like the son he never had. I ran through visions of my mother pinned under burning debris while my father yelled, “Hang on, honey!” while trying to detach the TV from the brackets on the wall. It would be a shame to lose that TV.

Next, I wondered if their parakeet would smell like Thanksgiving turkey if it caught on fire. (Yes, I disgust myself.)

My last thought was that maybe if my parents’ house was burned down, I would get a day off of work on Monday.

Then, I realized what a horrible daughter/human being I am.By the time we pulled up, the five fire departments had finished their work and were gone. My parents and sister’s boyfriend were boarding up the side of the house. And there was a distinct stench of melted vinyl siding in the air.

As soon and my husband and I approached the garage, my dad said, “Hey, come on in and have a beer.”

A beer? The side of the house has a hole in it, and my father wants us to come in and have a beer? Well. Ok.

So we went inside and he and my mother proceeded to reenact the whole story in great detail and with much enthusiasm. He and my mom had been inside enjoying the Survivor finale. My dad was hilarious. He described how he had seen that the flames were approaching the shelves full of paint thinner and chemicals in the garage and he had bent over and started blowing the flames to try to put them out before they reached the shelves. He explained that a trash can on the side of the house blew over and knocked out a floodlight in the landscaping, which then sparked the fire. The trash can was part of the new mandatory recycling program in St. Louis County. My parents are not recyclers and I have been trying to convert them for several months now. I finally had succeeded and my mother had planned on putting her recycling in the required container Monday morning for the first time. My dad joked that it was all because of recycling that this happened.

Long story short, five different fire departments and the police came out to douse the flames. It was pretty bad, but it could have been worse.

I am so thankful to God that my parents are okay. I don’t want to imagine what could have happened. Watching my father and mother joke about the whole incident made me realize that I am just like them. Instead of thinking about how horrible it might be, I immediately thought of frivolous, rather humorous scenarios. I guess that is how my family deals with stress. If you can’t laugh about something like this, you might just have to cry.

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