Jerry’s Journal: April 14, 2012

by Jerry Kasperek

A fire! Oh, no! It might be Lynn and Dennis’ house on fire and somebody might still be in it! The phone call had said as much.

My heart pounded as Ed and I grabbed our coats that bitter cold January day only to quickly realized we couldn’t get anywhere near the raging fire on County Route 85 where they lived because the road would be blocked off.

So we paced the floor and anxiously waited by the phone to hear from somebody — anybody — to let us know what was going on.

It was a few minutes of frayed nerves and several silent prayers later when another call came in to say yes, it was their house, and no, nobody got hurt. Thank God! But how awful! Lynn and Dennis Lyons are my daughter and son-in-law.

My darling daughter Lynn is no longer a child; she is, in fact, a mother of four grown children and a grandmother of five little darlings of her own. Nevertheless, she’s still MY kid and no matter what I still hurt for her whenever she hurts. I also happen to love Dennis a bunch.

The fire started in the garage and migrated to parts of the house. While Lynn lost the home she had put her heart and soul into, Dennis’ loss was no less painful. He had witnessed his big, two-car garage filled with a vast collection of tools, equipment and memorabilia go up in smoke that terrible day.  Yes, everyone got out okay, thank God, you can’t replace a person, as they say. But there’s still a ton of grieving to do when you lose a home you’ve lived in and brought up a family in and enjoyed for almost thirty years.

The house itself did not burn to the ground, however. From the road it doesn’t look too bad at all. Go inside, though, and you get another picture.

Thank goodness for the firefighters who put out the blaze, but the fire hose doused the house good and the water damage inside was everywhere and puddled up in hidden places. Drawers were brimming; sofa cushions had become wet sponges; window curtains wet rags.

The smoke damage was even worse. Gone were the pretty blue walls of the living room. They were now coated with soot, as black as coal, dark and sad looking. It took my breath away — literally, as the smell of smoke a week later still laid heavy in the indoor air.  Soot ran down the walls in all the rooms and what used to be clocks and other assorted decorations had melted on the wall and taken on odd shapes, which made me realize how hot a fire can get and what devastation it can cause.

Wooden furniture and children’s toys were piled up in the middle of the living room, dampened and sootified. A cross stitch I had made for Lynn hung crooked on the wall, its frame all crusty brown like a toasted marshmallow. So many of life’s treasures were headed for the dumpster!

Well, that was almost three months ago and now that the haze of loss and grieve has somewhat cleared there’s the future to look forward to.

I can always make another cross stitch, and Lynn and Dennis will rebuild and everything will be brand new, and new memories will rise from the ashes. Whether or not the fire was a blessing in disguise, who are we are to judge?

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News

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